Michael Cimino …

2 Jul


Heaven’s Gate Soundtrack / Slow Water

“If you don’t get it right, what’s the point?”

Michael Cimino

Michael Cinimo
(February 3, 1939 – July 2, 2016)

The Story of Michael Cimino and Heaven’s Gate

Just about everything that surrounded Michael Cimino was either amazing, bizarre, or crazy. So much so that if the recorded events hadn’t actually happened, nobody would believe it. And we still might not.

Heaven's Gate Michael Cimino and Kris Kristofferson 2

Cimino and Kristofferson on set of Heaven’s Gate

Heaven's Gate IMDB review

Heaven's Gate Rotten Tomatoes review

Heaven’s Gate – from Wikipedia

On the basis of his track record, Cimino was given free rein by United Artists for his next film, Heaven’s Gate (1980). The film came in several times over budget. After its release, it proved to be a financial disaster that nearly bankrupted the studio. Heaven’s Gate became the lightning rod for the industry perception of the loosely controlled situation in Hollywood at that time. The film’s failure marked the end of the New Hollywood era. Transamerica Corporation sold United Artists, having lost confidence in the company and its management.

Heaven’s Gate was such a devastating critical and commercial bomb that public perception of Cimino’s work was tainted in its wake; the majority of his subsequent films achieved neither popular nor critical success. Many critics who had originally praised The Deer Hunter became far more reserved about the picture and about Cimino after Heaven’s Gate. The story of the making of the movie, and UA’s subsequent downfall, was documented in Steven Bach’s book Final Cut. Cimino’s film was somewhat rehabilitated by an unlikely source: the Z Channel, a cable pay TVchannel that at its peak in the mid-1980s served 100,000 of Los Angeles’s most influential film professionals. After the unsuccessful release of the re-edited and shortened Heaven’s Gate, Jerry Harvey, the channel’s programmer, decided to play Cimino’s original 219 minute cut on Christmas Eve 1982. The re-assembled movie received admiring reviews. The full length, director approved version, was reissued on CD by the prestigious Criterion Collection.

Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven’s Gate”. (available on YouTube in 8 parts).

Heaven’s Gate cost $44 million
Box office              $3,484,331

Due to constant revisions/edits there were/are? now at least 5 versions of Heaven’s Gate:

  1. Workprint for studio executives, early 1980 was 325-minutes long. (325 minutes is 5 hours and 41 minutes. Some mini-series aren’t this long) The average movie of this era was about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  2. Initial “Premiere” Release: 219-minutes (This is still over 3 hours long)
    • Cinema release, November 1980, aborted after 1 week
    • Shown on Z Channel cable, 1982, as “The Directors cut
    • Released on VHS and LaserDisc by MGM as “The Legendary Uncut Version
  3. Director’s Second edit: 149-minutes (About 2 hours and 5 minutes long)
    • Wide cinema release, April 1981
    • Released on DVD in France and the Netherlands
  4. Radical Cut: 219-minute[46]
    • 2005 special screening in Paris and New York
      • Reassembled by MGM with available high quality footage (using alternative footage where required)
  5. Digitally restored Directors Cut: 216 minutes
    • Restored in 2012 for the 69th Venice Film Festival, followed by a BD & DVD release.
      • Based on the initial release with the intermission removed, and slightly shortened.

Heaven's Gate poster

Heaven's Gate poster 2

Heaven's Gate poster 3

Heaven's Gate poster 4

Heaven's Gate poster 5

Unrealized Cimino projects

The Fountainhead
Crime and Punishment
Perfect Strangers
Untitled Porgy & Bess Project
The Life and Dreams of Frank Costello
Pearl
Conquering Horse
Footloose
The Pope of Greenwich Village
Legs Diamond Biopic
Born on the Fourth of July
Hand-Carved Coffins
The Yellow Jersey
Michael Collins

Collaborations with Raymond Carver

Full Circle
Santa Ana Wind
Paradise Junction
The Dreaming Place
Man’s Fate

The kicker? Heaven’s Gate is now considered to be a pretty good movie. Some regard it as a Classic.

2 Responses to “Michael Cimino …”

  1. Don Ostertag July 3, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    I enjoy watching it. The other day Kris and Willie peformed close by. I didn’t go but I was so glad to see Kristofferson back performing. They said he had early Alzhiemers but they found out it was Lymes disease.

    • jcalberta July 3, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

      Wow !! Lymes disease is bad too. But I guess I’d chose it over Alzhiemers. Glad to hear he’s OK.
      Here’s another interesting thing: I was working on a post for a recent Western called Traded which Kris is in – and I was putting together a little sidebar of Kris’s Westerns filmography – which includes Heaven’s Gate. I was doing this on the day Cimino died. Coincidence? Synchronicity? Called it what you want – it’s something???

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