Wyoming, 1890. James Averill is the Sherriff of Johnson County, a county largely inhabited by foreign immigrants. The wealthy cattle owners view the immigrant farmers as a nuisance and hindrance to them enlarging their own land. The cattlemen's association, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, effectively declares war on the immigrant farmers, and gets the state government's blessing. They assemble an army of guns-for-hire, and, backed by US cavalry, set out to rid the state of the immigrants. James Averill's heart is with the immigrants but he is not sure they have a chance of winning the inevitable war.Written by
Nearly 220 hours of total footage was shot, and the original final cut was 3 hours and 39 minutes, making the shooting ratio roughly 60 to 1. See more »
The period steam engine is a coal fired engine, with black smoke. In the West, steam engines had wide, open smokestacks for burning cheap, plentiful wood, producing white smoke and live cinders. In fact, piles of logs are stacked on the accompanying tender. See more »
I seriously don´t know why this movie got such a hostile reception when it was first released. Sure, it´s overlong and somewhat gratuitous in its depictions of sexuality and violence but so are lots of well regarded movies. I seriously don´t think that the people who hated "Heaven´s Gate" really understood it. "Heaven´s Gate" in its uncut form, much like "The Deer Hunter" shows the gross differences of living an insecure and dangerous life (like the immigrants and Averil in Wyoming) and living in comfort and privilege (like the settled "Americans" in Wyoming and Averil in the prologue and epilogue). Living a hard life is painful but it can also be invigorating as opposed to the dull life Averil leads in the epilogue. Also, as Michael Cimino took great pains to make the picture historically accurate , it is fascinating as a document of (and maybe indictment of) American life in Old West Wyoming. The dialogue is often genuinely clever and emotional. Combined with great music and cinematography, the movie works like a truly poetic work of art. Granted, "Heaven´s Gate", with its refusal to patronize the viewer, is not for all tastes. However, Hollywood turns out so much commercial dreck each year which is so much easier to dismiss as mindless eye candy (even when an example of it becomes a blockbuster) that "Gate" and Cimino really do deserve more respect. All people should see the uncut version at least once and then they should make up their own mind.
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