Heaven's Gate Reviews
Wyoming but the basic story of the two guys in love with the same girl is
Paint Your Wagon without the gold or the songs! And that triangle took up
too much time.
If this confrontation between immigrants and "stockgrowers" really
happened, then I'm grateful that this movie brings that history to light.
(Later, I found out the events didn't happen. The movie is apparently fictional!)
Cannot make out John Hurt's rôle. Also, Sam Waterson is lost for a great chunk of the movie.
The story (for it hardly has a plot) is too slight for such a lengthy movie.
Notorious epic from Michael Cimino was responsible for nearly bankrupting Hollywood. What we have here is a movie with magnificent looks but no story. It's sort of about a gang of settlers on the lookout for immigrants to murder. The character motivations are glaringly (and fatally) inconsistent, along with its distracting musical score-which is also all over the place. Photography, sets, and grand scope all help immensely...but not nearly enough to confiscate it's biggest flaws. Vilmos Zsigmond did the striking photography.
But again, with that said, it is indeed worth a watch. The sets are truly spectacular, the directing, is actually, really good, and while the film was close to 4 hours long, as was not uncommon with these directorial projects...I rarely looked at the clock. There are several scenes of characters dancing in waltz, with the camera circling around the action, swirling us in to the moment. Cimino pulled me in to these stories and characters, in that way, pure camera work and cinema artistry. So, if you've got 4 hours to burn, there are worse things you could watch.
Actually, my primary complaint with Heavens' Gate, is that with all of the effort put in to recreating this Wyoming town, and te horrible land baron vs. immigrant war reality...Unfortunately, very little of these events took place in history. The stories are very loosely based on fact, but fall short. Why put all that money, and all those resources and time and talent, into telling a story, that appears geniuine, but is in fact, total fiction and completely artificial? That's not to say that I dislike a good fiction, but the movie is disingenous in this regard. The production and recreation was again, very impressive. Too bad it wasn't used to provide us with an actual historical context of Wyoming, circa 1890s.
The editing is near atrocious with cuts coming too soon or too late, the film lacks rhythm and becomes frustrating.
Huppert seems uncomfortable and her line readings lack emotion. The film is not the catastrophe it was said to be, but needed a surer hand in the director's chair and in the editing room.
The finely-restored Criterion edition helps, seeing the beautiful cinematography with the correct color timing, so I added one star to my rating.