6.8/10
13,265
231 user 136 critic

Heaven's Gate (1980)

Trailer
1:23 | Trailer
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
Reviews
Popularity
3,914 ( 754)
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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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the most egregious examples of Michael Cimino's abuse of the budget was the construction of an irrigation system under the battlefield to assure the grass would be vividly green before it was turned red by the blood of the ensuing carnage. See more »

Goofs

As Jim and Ella stand over Nate's body, reading his final letter to them, look closely and you can see Nate still breathing. See more »

Quotes

Wolcott: They're an ignorant, degraded gang of paupers. Their only stock in trade consists of having large numbers of ragged kids.
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Alternate Versions

All UK versions are cut by 1 min 14 secs to remove all scenes of cockfighting as well as editing footage of cruel horse-falls. See more »


Soundtracks

The Battle Hymn of the Republic
(uncredited)
Music by William Steffe
Played by the marching band
See more »

User Reviews

 
Unfairly Maligned
2 May 2005 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" is certainly not without its problems, but it's hard to believe, now that the historical context in which the film was released is long past, that it received such a rough drubbing when it came out 25 years ago. It's quite an interesting film and even a very well made one. It bears many similarities to Cimino's earlier success, "The Deer Hunter": a focus on male solidarity and conflict, man returning to a more primitive state, a narrative structure that has the protagonist moving from civilization to a barbaric world and then back to a civilization that will be changed forever by preceding events. Like "The Deer Hunter," this films deals in images more than words. Unlike "The Deer Hunter," however, and this film's biggest failing, is the lack of a cast of the same strength that graced Cimino's earlier film. "The Deer Hunter" had Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken. "Heaven's Gate" gets Christopher Walken, but in a role for which he is ill suited, and instead of De Niro and Streep we get Kris Kristofferson and Isabelle Huppert. I don't know what possessed Cimino to think Kristofferson could carry a film of this magnitude, but it's a dire miscalculation on his part. Kristofferson isn't necessarily a horrible actor, but he's certainly not strong enough to retain an audience's interest over the course of a 219 minute film. Isabelle Huppert is bland as well. The result is long scenes with little or no dialogue, in which feelings are supposedly being expressed in the faces of the actors; but since the actors aren't very strong, nothing is getting expressed. That's what makes "Heaven's Gate" much longer than it needs to be. There's really only a wisp of a story, so if we're not fully engaged in the characters, what exactly are we supposed to be engaged in? However, the weak cast and writing aside, "Heaven's Gate" is still a remarkable achievement in its own way, and a much better film than a new generation of movie lovers has been led to believe. Cimino may stumble with actors, but he's got a iron-clad grasp of visuals, and puts some stunning and memorable images on the screen. The film feels much more like a 70's film than it does an 80's film. At various times, it reminded me of "Little Big Man," "McCabe and Mrs. Miller," and "The Wild Bunch." If that esteemed company doesn't serve as an endorsement of this film, I don't know what does.

Grade: B


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

24 April 1981 (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)

Gross USA:

$3,484,331

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,484,523
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Company Credits

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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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