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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
4,697 ( 399)
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 L. 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 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 grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What one loves about life are the things that fade. 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) | (original cut) | (2012 director's recut) | (rough cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby (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

Second of two films that Jeff Bridges made with Michael Cimino. The first was Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). See more »

Goofs

When Canton shoots the immigrant point-blank in the back of the head, there is no blood, bone or hair shown coming off the head. In fact, after the immigrant's head is lifted to show his face then dropped down again, there is no sign on the back of his head that he's been shot at all. See more »

Quotes

James Averill: You're not my class, Canton, and you never will be. You'd have to die first and be born again.
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Connections

Referenced in Dark Ride (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

An der schönen, blauen Donau (On the Beautiful Blue Danube), Op. 314
(as "The Blue Danube Waltz")
Music by Johann Strauss
Performed by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic (as The New York Philharmonic Orchestra)
Waltz danced on the lawn and heard as a theme
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A flawed masterpiece
8 October 2000 | by gts-3See all my reviews

"Heaven´s Gate" is by far not the disaster its contemporary critics condemned it to be. And its by far not the pristine achievement its defenders want us to believe. As a movie, it has too many sequences that drag, to many "lyrical" moments that are great to watch but a major violation of the film´s momentum and too many actors evidently not knowing where they are (leading players Kris Kristofferson and John Hurt pitifully among them). But it features Isabelle Hupperts still best performance in a non-french-language movie, one of Jeff Bridges finest performances and a storyline that is willfully political, anti-establishment and anti-Reagan. In fact Cimino seems at times more concerned with the contemporary overtones of his film than with the historic tragedy itself. Coming from a director who just two years before that had made the most conservative and pro-american film about the Vietnam experience (not about the war!), who ran away with the major Academy Awards for doing so, and who had - not to forget - co-written the Dirty-Harry-sequel "Magnum Force" together with John Milius of all people, "Heaven´s Gate" must have come as a surprise with some impact. Being released in the launching stages of what was to become the Reagan-era, both Cimino and the film were dutifully punished for their conduct unbecoming. "Heaven´s Gate" was resurrected as the flawed masterpiece it is at the Cannes film festival four years later. Michael Cimino still hasn´t recovered from the massive blows his career had to take.


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