Heaven's Gate

1980, Western/History, 3h 38m

46 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Heaven's Gate contains too many ideas and striking spectacle to be a disaster, but this western buckles under the weight of its own sprawl. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Harvard graduate James Averill (Kris Kristofferson) is the sheriff of prosperous Jackson County, Wyo., when a battle erupts between the area's poverty-stricken immigrants and its wealthy cattle farmers. The politically connected ranch owners fight the immigrants with the help of Nathan Champion (Christopher Walken), a mercenary competing with Averill for the love of local madam Ella Watson (Isabelle Huppert). As the struggle escalates, Averill and Champion begin to question their decisions.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Heaven's Gate

Audience Reviews for Heaven's Gate

  • Jan 03, 2022
    I fall mostly on the side of the positive reassement of the movie. Perhaps not a "masterpiece" but still a fascinating spectacle that continually defies expectations. If you still don't get the appeal of that, well ok, but save your vitriol for something lazier.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 19, 2014
    Michael Cimino's disgustingly ambitious epic: - Has Kris Kristofferson. - Has Christopher Walken - Has John Hurt - Has Jeff Bridges - Has Brad Dourif - Has Mickey Rourke - Has Isabelle Huppert in all her female glory... for the hundredth time - Runs for 219 minutes - Has an intermission - Is notorious for being an infamous financial disaster - Costed $36,000,000.00 in 1980's terms - Initially left United Artists financially crippled - Got criticized by critics under terms of "self-indulgence" - Was nominated for only one Academy Award - Recently got a Criterion Collection release - Has a 6.7 rating in IMDB, and therefore... - ...is underrated Michael Cimino constructs a fully committed essay about American imperialism disguised as a plot of European immigrants seeking for a better life in the American frontier. The real-life setting of 1890's Wyoming and the consequent War of Johnson County were perfect excuses for everything that the film contains... and did. Repeatedly, and pretty much intentionally, the movie lingers in several sequences as in attempts to contemplate its own impressionistic visual grandiosity. Normally, I would codemn such cinematic ego, but truth to be told, the scope is so massive that the expansion of certain sequences is completely justified just for the sake of escapism and appreciation. In essence, the size of the experience provided mimics Sergio Leone's <i>Once Upon a Time in America</i> (1984) in many aspects, most of them emotional (as in the nostalghia evoked) and technical, mostly regarding the impressionistic cinematography. Both projects feel like a master's farewell; ironically enough, this was barely Cimino's third feature. With a development of events that guarantees entertainment throughout its epic running time, <i>Heaven's Gate</i> is a worthy restoration of the classic days of epic moviemaking of classic Hollywood with anti-Hollywood, somewhat European tints, deserving of more reputation than the one it has received. I must accept that the story could have been shortened at least one full hour, but why do that when the directorial vision is properly applied and the stars' alignment was exact for using such a tremendous budget? 86/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2014
    Lives up to its reputation of being a bomb. There aren't too many redeeming qualities to take from this wreckage.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 05, 2013
    worth watching but much of the criticism is well founded imo. every scene goes on too long. period detail is exquisite and it's one of the most beautiful films i've seen but everything here is just too big. the story needed more focus. maybe a great two hour film in here somewhere
    Stella D Super Reviewer

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