Customer Review

99 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic where I come from., 22 Dec 2002
This review is from: Heaven's Gate [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Michael Cimino's film would be held up as the archetypal Hollywood film that went vastly over-budget & failed to recoup the costs. Deemed a failure, jounalists gathered like vultures and books like The Final Cut (Stephen Bach) appeared- this would spell the end of New Hollywood- an era that had been ushered in with Bonnie & Clyde and Easy Rider would come to a close with this film- and Beatty's Reds (and perhaps Schrader's Lucas/Coppola produced Mishima). Art cinema would be off the menu- Bogdanovich & Coppola would have money problems, Scorsese would become a director for hire & Cimino would never recover. The High Concept would dominate the 80's- movies like Top Gun, Flashdance & Rambo would replace the possibilities offered up by auteurs like Cimino and Coppola. Our loss.
Heaven's Gate has dated wonderfully, this full-length 3hours 28 minutes version is much more satisfying than the edited take previously released (the 1980's would see many works cut to bits- such as Dune and Once Upon a Time in America). This is a far more satisfying Western than many that have followed it, such as Pale Rider, Dances with Wolves, Wyatt Earp, Tombstone & Ride with the Devil (but not Unforgiven or Dead Man). Cimino's epic ambition is all evident on-screen (photographer Vilmos Zsigmond captures a stunning world). As with Reds, you can see where the money went- a stunning recreation of an era in terms of art direction, design & costume.
This easily ranks next to Thunderbolt & Lightfoot and The Deer Hunter (whose epic vision was leading towards this epic-epic) and can a film with a cast including Kris Kristofferson, Isabelle Huppert, John Hurt, Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterson, Joseph Cotton & Brad Dourif be anything less than wonderful?
As Peter Biskind notes in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls- it could have been any of the late films of New Hollywood that broke the studio- Raging Bull, Reds, the projected 1983 version of Last Temptation of Christ, One from the Heart etc. Heaven's Gate has an appalling reputation, but in time I believe people will watch it and see that Cimino's vision is one of the great works of late 20th century American cinema.
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