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U.S., 1980
Directed by Michael Cimino
Cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond
Starring Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif,
Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges
Approx. 219 min. DCP.

When the fatcats of the Wyoming Cattleman’s Association send a horde of hired guns, including Walken, to drive immigrant squatters off their land, federal marshal Kristofferson does his best to avert the seemingly inevitable massacre — both men taking time out for visits with Isabelle Huppert’s frontier sex worker. Following his DEER HUNTER Oscar triumph, wunderkind  Michael Cimino was handed both a lucrative contract for his next project — his own heavily fictionalized screenplay on the historical Johnson County Wars —  and the coveted “final cut,” a clause the studio would later regret when the picture went 400% over budget. In Europe, far from anti-Cimino hysteria, critics praised the longer version as a masterpiece and made it a cause célèbre.


“Like an opium vision of American bloodshed, re-creating and ballooning the Johnson County Wars into a self-mythologizing prophecy of corporate mercilessness. Vilmos Zsigmond’s mistily gorgeous cinematography is virtually an act of mourning in and of itself.”
–  Michal Atkinson, Village Voice

“HEAVEN’S GATE arrived during an era of particularly vicious American westerns… While ugliness defined and revived the genre in the 1970s, HEAVEN’S GATE represented a slight return to classicism — to larger-than-life Panavision spectacle and crane shot-managed majesty.”
– Joseph Jon Lanthier, Slant

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