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Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate (2004)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 13 June 2004 (USA)
An inside look at the hectic production of Heaven's Gate (1980), the media circus that turned it into a synonym for movie flop and how it added to the tectonic change that occurred in Hollywood film studios after it infamously flopped.


Michael Epstein


Steven Bach (book), Michael Epstein


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Credited cast:
Steven Bach Steven Bach ... Himself (as Stephen Bach)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hal Ashby ... Himself (archive footage)
Sandy Berke Jordan Sandy Berke Jordan ... Herself (as Sandra Jordan)
Jeff Bridges ... Himself
Richard Burton ... Mark Anthony (archive footage)
Joann Carelli Joann Carelli ... Herself (archive footage)
Kathleen Carroll Kathleen Carroll ... Herself (archive footage)
Charles Chaplin ... Himself (archive footage)
Michael Cimino ... Himself (archive footage)
Francis Ford Coppola ... Himself (archive footage)
Willem Dafoe ... Narrator (voice)
Dick Deats Dick Deats ... Himself (as Dicky Deats)
Brad Dourif ... Himself
Douglas Fairbanks ... Himself (archive footage)
David Field David Field ... Himself


An inside look at the hectic production of Heaven's Gate (1980), the media circus that turned it into a synonym for movie flop and how it added to the tectonic change that occurred in Hollywood film studios after it infamously flopped.

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Not Rated






Release Date:

13 June 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Final Cut: The Making of 'Heaven's Gate' and the Unmaking of a Studio See more »

Company Credits

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Did You Know?


Willem Dafoe: [voiceover] There would be appeals, threats, even prayers for cost-cutting, all to no avail, for Michael Cimino knew that the executives at UA were weak. That was evident from the beginning.
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Alternate Versions

The DVD and blu-ray release of HEAVEN'S GATE in the UK by the label, Second Sight, contains a "DVD version" of the documentary which has been reworked, edited and shortened from it's original TV broadcast length, to 55 minutes. See more »


Features Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Chronicling the making of Cimino's misunderstood masterpiece
23 June 2006 | by VagabearSee all my reviews

An absorbing chronicle of the fabled history of the landmark film, HEAVEN'S GATE. The documentary is fairly well researched and clever in its technique (particularly the imaginative use of the extensive production stills taken - most never seen before.) The interviews with two of the film's stars (Kristofferson and Bridges) are great in that they are still on good terms with and champion Michael Cimino. Interviews with cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond and Penelope Shaw are also wonderful and give you a taste of what it must have been like to work alongside Cimino. Even the interviews with former UA executives, Bach & Field - who hired and later rued the day they engaged Cimino are fascinating and surprisingly balanced. One major disappointment is that of the hundreds of hours of film that was shot - and which is talked about and discussed extensively - no actual rushes or outtakes are shown (The terrible rumor is that they were scrapped at some later point.) Also - it's maddening for a fan of this film to hear Steven Bach speak of the 5+ hour rough cut that Cimino originally showed him - and that this version is unavailable for screening or study (if it even still exists.) Interestingly, the second cut of the film, released in 1981 is not just shorter but markedly different in many places (placement of scenes - different takes, etc.) and is now very hard to see or get access to (a little known DVD of this version is available in Europe and is well worth tracking down -- the transfer has a very different look and a much clearer dialog mix.)

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