6.8/10
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Heaven's Gate (1980)

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A dramatization of the real-life Johnson County War in 1890 Wyoming, in which a Sheriff born into wealth, attempts to protect immigrant farmers from rich cattle interests.

Director:

Michael Cimino

Writer:

Michael Cimino
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Popularity
4,119 ( 123)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kris Kristofferson ... James Averill
Christopher Walken ... Nathan D. Champion (as Chris Walken)
John Hurt ... William C. Irvine
Sam Waterston ... Frank Canton
Brad Dourif ... Mr. Eggleston
Isabelle Huppert ... Ella Watson
Joseph Cotten ... The Reverend Doctor
Jeff Bridges ... John H. Bridges
Ronnie Hawkins ... Maj. Wolcott
Paul Koslo ... Mayor Charlie Lezak
Geoffrey Lewis ... Trapper Fred
Richard Masur ... Cully
Rosie Vela Rosie Vela ... Beautiful Girl (as Roseanne Vela)
Mary Catherine Wright Mary Catherine Wright ... Nell (as Mary C. Wright)
Nicholas Woodeson ... Small Man
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Storyline

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 the U.S. 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 grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The only thing greater than their passion for America...was their passion for each other. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian | French | Polish | German

Release Date:

19 November 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate See more »

Filming Locations:

Butte, Montana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$44,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,032, 19 November 1980, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,484,331, 31 December 1981
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Partisan Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1981 re-cut) | (2012 director's recut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Heavy snowfall made exteriors impossible to shoot when the production arrived at Kalispell, Montana, in May 1979. Cover shoots of interiors had to be scheduled to overcome this problem, but the sets had not yet been built, so construction crews had to work around the clock to get them ready. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Nathan D. Champion: Why don't you come in for a while? You haven't been here for a long time. I fixed the place up inside.
Ella Watson: What have you done to it?
Nathan D. Champion: [whispers] Wallpaper.
See more »

Alternate Versions

After its disastrous premiere engagement, the film was heavily edited to 149 minutes for wide release in 1981. Full-length version (228 minutes) later restored for home video and syndicated television. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Second Glance (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

"Mamou Two-Step'
Written by Doug Kershaw
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A film not that dreadful, but understandably ripped
11 February 1999 | by FLKFREKSee all my reviews

I'm only one of a very few people who has actually seen BOTH versions of "Heaven's Gate". A frequently asked question is "Why was it ripped apart so badly?" The answer lies in this story here:

In 1984 I rented "Heaven's Gate" in order to show a friend of mine who had wanted to know if the film was as bad as he had heard. About 50 or so minutes into the film, Averill walks into Casper, Wyoming, which at the time this scene takes place is 1890. The town is filled with many meticulously dressed pedestrians, and the streets are filled with horses and buggies. My friend starts laughing uncontrollably. I asked, "Did I miss something?" He pulls himself together and says, "You gotta be kidding. There ain't even that many people in Casper, Wyoming NOW."

That in a nutshell can easily describe what went wrong. The film reeks of a director desperately trying to convince us that this movie is very important and cries for us to think he's an absolute genius. Actors take long breaths between sentences as though they were going to choke on what they are saying (man, just wait till you get to the scene where the deathlist is read out - you truly believe he'll read all 125 names), while every shot is filled with either smoke or dust in order to give us the feeling that this is ART. Camino's intentions were honorable as I truly believed that he believed he was making a masterpiece. This is what happens when you go out to make a masterpiece. I had only wished he tried to go out and make a good western. Then this film might have worked.


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