View Full Version : Heavens Gate: Masterpiece or Crap?
01-28-2003, 06:40 AM
Michael Ciminos "Heavens Gate" (1980)
A much maligned film or as a revised view " a post modern western masterpiece" ?.
The film went way over budget effectively bringing down "United Artists" as a studio and is one of the all time box office flops (budget $40 mil gros $3 mil).
It started many film careers -: Micky Rourke,Willem Dafoe and
and in reality ended the promising film career of Michael Cimino from a major studio perspective.
I have seen the DVD recently (not the original over 3 and half hour version) and the jury is out on this.Uneven performances :some great some not
.Some scenes of sheer scope and genius juxtaposed with banlity that just drags on and on (like an opening forty minute prologue)
It is probably the pinnacle of the anti-western.
Will this be revised as one of the all time greats?
I am interested to hear your views?
01-28-2003, 10:20 AM
Originally posted by peterbliss
Will this be revised as one of the all time greats?
i highly doubt it. its flawed, as you said, and i dont think anything can fix that.
01-28-2003, 01:14 PM
HEAVEN'S GATE is neither masterpiece nor crap, but it falls closer to the latter. I've labored through this plodder three times, always hoping that I'll finally see something cohesive and brilliant, but it never turns out that way. There really isn't much to like about HEAVEN'S GATE. Not only is the plot wholly muddled but, as far as I'm concerned, there isn't a single scene throughout that is great or memorable. It's often nice to look at--especially on the big screen--and most of the performances are adequate (though rarely better), but that's about it. Not much chance that future generations will ever rate this one a classic, but who knows what critical standards will be in the year 2525.
As things stand now, I would rate THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT as Cimino's masterpiece, since it's the only film that is consistently good (significant and entertaining).
01-28-2003, 01:56 PM
01-28-2003, 02:00 PM
Gotta dig Christopher Walken's Death scene though!!!
01-28-2003, 03:55 PM
Have to admit I've always regarded Cimino's HEAVENS GATE as a masterpiece, long before I was fortunate enough to catch a rare screening at London's National Film Theatre some six years ago. For me, the running time simply races by, though I do understand the viewpoints of those who have little or no time for it. I appreciate that Cimino's film was responsible for the demise of UA (which obviously turned many people against it), but feel many of the film critics had it in for Cimino and had virtually decided to maul his film, even before they had clapped eyes on it.
I've always enjoyed the wonderful sets, Zsigmond's magical photography, the great performances (Huppert, Kristofferson, Walken, Bridges, Sam Waterston's thoroughly evil Frank Canton and, of course, John Hurt who is, perhaps, the pick of the bunch). Even those who dislike this film seem to rave about David Mansfield's gorgeous score; yes, it is worth raving about but on many occasions, the dialogue is every bit as moving as the music. So many scenes stand out, but I'll just mention:
William Irvine's Harvard speech.
The dance scene in the college grounds.
James' reunion with Ella.
That wonderful dance at the skating rink.
The bloody shoot-out near the end.
The shattering climax on Jim's boat.
Not sure whether critical opinion has been drastically altered over the years and maybe I'm equally unsure whether it really matters a jot. HEAVENS GATE, for better or worse, is there if you need it. It's been more than 2 years since I last saw it, and this thread has reminded me it's time to take another look.
Like the poster declares, 'What one loves most in life are the things that fade.'
01-28-2003, 04:47 PM
A heaping pile of excremate. It was 3 hours of my life that I'll never get back again.
01-28-2003, 06:40 PM
I haven't seen Heaven's Gate. I started reading the thread because I was thinking of Errol Morris' Gates of Heaven, which is a movie I really love and would recommend with the caveat that it is rather heart-wrenching.
01-28-2003, 06:58 PM
Colossal bore. It just goes on forever and then rewards its audience with one of the most depressing finales of all time. I think Cimino became a little too full of himself after scoring such a terrific bull's eye with THE DEER HUNTER. YEAR OF THE DRAGON was even worse.
01-29-2003, 04:38 AM
I like "Year of the Dragon" a lot more than "Heavens Gate".
It is a tighter piece of work and the acting is more even.
Micky Rourkes performance as the pitch black anti-hero makes this compelling viewing along with the vibrant cinematography and precise editing.This was Ciminos stylised tribute to 40's crime film updated to the 80's.
Unfortunately the bad taste in the mouth from Heavens Gate left the critics unimpressed and the film bit the dust.
The less you can say about Ciminos "The Sicilian" and "The Desperate Hours" the better.
I think Heavens Gate may be the sums of its parts greater the whole.A lot of great scenes but a coherent line not one.
01-29-2003, 05:12 PM
I must admit, I have a prejudice against Mickey Rourke. But even at that, I found DRAGON way too offensive, especially in its stereotyping of Asians.
02-27-2005, 06:44 PM
This is now restored my MGM. But, there are some problems again..
Damn, I just hate when these people on these big studios play around with these issues.. Annoying.
02-28-2005, 05:51 PM
It's a crap masterpiece (a crapsterpiece? :D ). Not a good movie by any stretch but it has a lot of good stuff in it. Endless and endlessly fascinating. Every time I watch it I swear it's going to be the last time but I always end up watching it again after a year or so. Who knows?
Wonder if it'll ever get a proper DVD release? I'm not holding my breath.
03-01-2005, 01:19 AM
Late last year I saw the restored directors cut of "Heaven Gate" (3 hrs 30 mins) and have reassessed my opinion to that of an interesting failure.A flawed almost masterpiece.
Again it confirmed a lot of the sublime things that i first identified ...the greatish performances of Kris Kristophenson (career best), Christopher Walken and Isabel Huppert...the great visual sequences (the dance of the peasants, the war between the settlers and the army)...the surreal beauty of the cinematography but it also confirmed the negatives......
that John Hurt was horribly miscast and hammy (the oldest Yale student ever in the opening sequence), some of the scenes are overlong and paced poorly (example: again the opening sequence at graduation being too obscure to establish character exposition and develop the story) and perhaps the length of the movie is too long.
I agree it is a movie I am drawn to every couple of years...on a fascination basis...of an interesting failure or a guilty pleasure.
03-02-2005, 07:52 PM
I think it's neither- and that's the problem. It has some beautiful scenes in its nearly 4 hours but overall it's an average film. I much prefer Cimino's YEAR OF THE DRAGON- his best film IMO.
03-05-2005, 07:32 AM
Flawed in many ways, but a must-see.
Scott W. Davis
03-07-2005, 07:22 AM
As I just mentioned in another thread (before I even noticed this one), I thought HEAVEN'S GATE was brilliant. I would definitely call it a masterpiece. It is gaining respect, but people pay so much attention to the way it was made and the way it failed at the box office. It will probably never be fully embraced in the United States but should become known as a work of genius elsewhere.
Just a footnote, Scorsese claimed in an interview once that it was one of the greatest films of the 1980s.
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