'Heaven's Gate' - High-Def Digest Review - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:53 PM
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Default 'Heaven's Gate' - High-Def Digest Review

Josh has reviewed 'Heaven's Gate.' He says this is an ambitious, fascinating, and often frustrating epic. Unfortunately, it never completely comes together. The Director's Cut
presents Michael Cimino's film as he always wanted it to be seen. This merits a qualified recommendation. Here's why...

Full review here:
http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/7586/heavens_gate.html
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:41 PM
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Excellent review, Josh.

I've seen a handful of out-of-context scenes via MGM-HD, and know it mostly by reputation, so I need to watch this in full someday.

When 'Heaven's Gate' was originally announced, Criterion promised a supplement titled: "'The Johnson County War': a video interview with historian Bill O'Neal about the real-life conflict that inspired the film, and its resonance in popular culture." and yet it looks like that piece has been dropped? I wonder why?

----

Also, because I'm from San Diego...
Spoiler
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:07 PM
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I really wished this release came out on April 1st. Just for that extra pinch of humor.

I do find this film unwatchable. At least...I've never been able to make it through without falling asleep. It's Postman bad. The only thing I ever truly got out of the film was the behind the scenes stuff. Which, is incredible at showing you exactly what it's like working on a bad film.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:04 PM
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Nice review and very fair.

I also agree that the colors don't seem "right" to me either. I always loved the original color design and I'm a little surprised that Zsigmond was not even consulted on this restoration. As for the film itself, I saw the shortened version about 3 times at the time of its release, and I've seen the full-length version about a half dozen times. The more I watch, the more I dislike it. As much as one wants to call it a masterpiece, it has so many frustrating flaws that it is far from the "forgotten masterpiece" that seems to be its current label.

Regardless, I'm glad that Criterion took the time and effort to add it to its catalogue. It's too bad that Cimino had such a control over this release, however, as it would have been nice to also have the shortened version on disc. Although your review states that UA pulled it from release, that was at the insistence of Cimino himself (he put an ad in Variety requesting it) and this shortened version is still, technically, a director's cut. Therefore it probably should have bee part of this release. Because of the overt lack of even discussing the film's history, it seems Criterion bent to the wishes of Cimino rather than to provide a release that does justice to the film and it's historical significance.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:55 AM
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I've only seen this once (on TV) but, from what I remember, I'm sure I enjoyed it more than my recent re-visit to The Deer Hunter - an overlong film if ever there was one, in my opinion.
Personally, I see little difference in the reviewer's comments on the graduation scene in Heaven's Gate and the wedding scene in The Deer Hunter. The wedding scene takes up the whole first hour of the film and, to be perfectly honest, I was bored to tears throughout.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:51 AM
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If they had a no-holds barred hour plus long doc of the making of this movie included, then I would consider it. I haven't seen the movie, but I am curious to see the sets and the extravagance shown it them. As it is, it sounds like the history surrounding the making, release and fallout from it would make a much more interesting viewing than the movie itself. So I'll take a pass on a mediocre film packaged with a modest assortment of censored supplements.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Super-VHS View Post
When 'Heaven's Gate' was originally announced, Criterion promised a supplement titled: "'The Johnson County War': a video interview with historian Bill O'Neal about the real-life conflict that inspired the film, and its resonance in popular culture." and yet it looks like that piece has been dropped? I wonder why?
If I had to guess, it's probably because the piece pointed out how far the movie strayed from the actual history, and Cimino didn't want to acknowledge that.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruceames View Post
If they had a no-holds barred hour plus long doc of the making of this movie included, then I would consider it. I haven't seen the movie, but I am curious to see the sets and the extravagance shown it them. As it is, it sounds like the history surrounding the making, release and fallout from it would make a much more interesting viewing than the movie itself. So I'll take a pass on a mediocre film packaged with a modest assortment of censored supplements.
There's a documentary that I saw - it might be on this release - when I was in college. I think it was about film production. It featured a lot of different bits from different films being made. There was a 10 or so minute segment on Heaven's Gate. It basically looked like one of the worst gigs you'll ever get stuck working on. Which, now being out of college and having worked quite a bit...I can tell you that not even a documentary can sum up what the experience is like when working on a really bad production. Everyone hates everyone and every day is 16+ hours.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:21 PM
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The book Final Cut is the general go-to account of the making of this movie. It was written by a studio exec who saw the whole thing go down in flames.

Defenders of the film claim that the author holds a grudge against Cimino and unfairly exaggerates many of the stories.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twonunpackmule View Post
I really wished this release came out on April 1st. Just for that extra pinch of humor.

I do find this film unwatchable. At least...I've never been able to make it through without falling asleep. It's Postman bad. The only thing I ever truly got out of the film was the behind the scenes stuff. Which, is incredible at showing you exactly what it's like working on a bad film.
If you think this is bad, you should see Dwight Yoakam's 'South of Heaven, West of Hell.'
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