Chronicling the making of Cimino's misunderstood masterpiece
An absorbing chronicle of the fabled history of the landmark film, HEAVEN'S GATE. The production is fairly well researched and clever in its technique (particularly the imaginative use of the extensive production stills taken - and most never seen or used before.) The interviews with two of the film's stars (Kristofferson and Bridges) are great in that they are still on good terms with and champion Michael Cimino. Interviews with cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond and Penelope Shaw are also wonderful and give you a taste of what it must have been like to work alongside Cimino. Even the interviews with former UA executives, Bach & Field - who hired and later rued the day they hired Cimino are fascinating and surprisingly balanced. One major disappointment is that of the hundreds of hours of film that was shot - and which is talked about and discussed extensively - no actual rushes or outtakes are shown (I assume the filmmakers tried to get access to such footage and met with some sort of roadblock - financial, contractual or otherwise.) Also - it's maddening for a fan of this film to hear Steven Bach speak of the 5+ hour cut that Cimino originally showed him - and that this version is unavailable for screening or study (if it still even exists.) Interestingly, the second cut of the film, released in 1981 is not just shorter but markedly different in many places (placement of scenes - different takes, etc.) and is now very hard to see or get access to (a little known DVD of this version is available in Europe and is well worth tracking down -- the transfer has a very different look and a much clearer dialog mix.)
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