I have never seen Ishtar. I have not seen Gigli or Hudson Hawk either. I haven't even seen Battlefield Earth. I have stayed away from many of the great flops successfully. But above all those, and the many other classic failures that have come before and since, I have never seen Heaven's Gate. I should state that at the beginning.
Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate should stand alongside The Birth of a Nation, Bonnie & Clyde, Pulp Fiction and a short list of other films that have changed the way cinema operates. Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate is a bombastic, cutting, and thorough look at the long evolution and quick death of a film that murdered a motion picture studio.
It is understandable, yet disappointing, that Cimino would not discuss the film that ruined him. Instead, the filmmakers employ the help of assorted actors and crew members to discuss the plight. But most interesting is the inclusion of two United Artists executives, both of whom were inexperienced at film-making at the time of shooting Heaven's Gate. They discuss their faults as well as the director's honestly and often humorously.
The audience for documentaries are often small, but this one is different. Even for those of you who do not care much for film or film history; even for those of you who have never seen Heaven's Gate and never want to; the film is about failure, personal and financial, on a grand scale. Though seeing someone flounder miserably is not often fun, shaking your head in hindsight can be. ***.5 out of ****
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