Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate
Find myself in the film mode these days. I watched this fascinating documentary on the making of Heaven's Gate and the demise of United Artists. People have different opinions about the movie, but I thought it was one of the best Westerns ever done, and Cimino's attention to detail was unparalleled, such as this great roller skating scene.
The movie as Cimino originally cut it was over 5 hours, but after much pressure he shaved it down to less than 3 hours, losing much of the scope of the film, including the long Harvard graduation introduction, giving it a choppy feeling that was hard to understand, and turning away viewers especially after all the bad press it received. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times stood virtually alone in praising the film for its cinematic brilliance and audacity.
The story itself was based on the Johnson County War of the late 19th century, with many of the persons involved referred to directly or indirectly. Cimino must have had Slavic connections, because he also focused on a Slavic community in Pennsylvania in his movie The Deer Hunter.