48 comments

  • By J. A. Czepyha
    December 13, 2012
    02:29 PM

    1-Terrible film, 2-Terrible film, 3-Terrible film. Worst Criterion ever!
    Reply
    • By Daniel T. P.
      December 13, 2012
      02:41 PM

      That was really clever, J. A.
    • By Daniel W.
      December 13, 2012
      10:18 PM

      I agree. This movie sucks.
    • By thevoid99
      December 14, 2012
      01:27 AM

      No, the worst Criterion is Armageddon.
    • By Daniel W.
      December 14, 2012
      12:31 PM

      I agree that Armageddon is a bad criterion, but I consider that movie a guilty pleasure. Heaven's Gate was built up as the next Gone with the Wind or Lawrence of Arabia. So I consider Heaven's Gate worse.
  • By Cinemark
    December 14, 2012
    08:46 AM

    The problem with the film is that despite the beautiful imagery (and it IS beautiful!), there's just not enough storytelling to warrant all of this fuss Cimino went through. If he had put as much focus on the script as he did with the production, that masterful epic he wanted would have materialized. Instead, he ended up ruining his reputation and bankrupting United Artists. A real sad waste of a great production.
    Reply
  • By aaron
    December 14, 2012
    05:52 PM

    Ultimately we are speaking in opinions, but I tend to appreciate an opinion when it is nuanced. "this movie sucks" never really cut it for me. I think it is all too easy to suggest that a spare narrative is "thin" or "insufficient." But there is another kind of narrative happening all around the central drama of johnson county and the love triangle. That narrative is the narrative of place, and space, and familiarizing so completely with environments that they are inseparable from the events that take place with them. To the contrary of boring, narratives that hinge on such seamlessly constructed realities, and that have patience in their unfolding, are all the more engaging because of one's ability to enter into them. For me, every frame of Heaven's Gate is vital and full (even with those wide open spaces). As I said in another thread, it never seems as though "nothing is happening" because I feel the volume of each space, the density of the smoke, the grit of the dirt, the gusts of wind, the flurry of languages. Vilmos Zsigmond was able to both capture and dramatize every scene, no matter what was happening, with movements sweeping and subtle. In fact, the more I watch it the richer the characterizations feel, the more complex the fabric of faces and places appears, the more interesting the existential aspects, and the graver the stakes of the town, townspeople, and the principal cast seem. Not to mention the editing of the final battle sequence is kind of a marvel. Personally, im pretty thankful Cimino went through all the fuss of perfectionism and craft, because the result is a highly transportive film. Heaven's Gate possesses material, environmental, and emotional authenticity that refuses the "ends justifies the means" amnesia about american expansionism.
    Reply
    • By Dave
      December 20, 2012
      02:38 PM

      Exactly: "what he said".
    • By birdturd94
      March 16, 2013
      09:59 AM

      I couldn't agree more, although the story lacks it makes up in art and detail.
  • By Martin
    December 20, 2012
    03:17 PM

    Great Films, oft-cited criteria: 1) Rewards repeated viewings, 2) no other film like it, and 3) involuntary immersion of the viewer. Roger Ebert STILL has a review posted in which he ridicules as silly several elements of the film, which incidents are in fact a part of the historical record. People STILL talk about the incoherent initial theatrical cut. People STILL talk about how excess was rampant in its making, and how it affected a major studio. If you missed on #1, that's your fault. If you dispute #2, I'd love to hear about a similar film. What's most troubling is that those who don't experience #3 seem to be viewing the film through a haze of irrelevant crap. I guess some automobile chase scenes/crashes might help with that, at least if the automobiles were operated by cartoon characters. That way nothing is asked of the viewer. Of course, The Rules of The Game and a lot of other great films will need to be shelved.
    Reply
    • By Daniel W.
      February 24, 2013
      12:10 PM

      Yeah. I will agree it is unfair to ridicule this film based on the 149 minute cut. It would be like continuing to hate One Upon a Time in America based on the crappy 2 1/2 hour US cut (you know, the version that put all the events in the film in chronological order. at least I think that was what happened to it. Holy crap that was bad.) This, like all films, has to be viewed on what it ultimately tries to do in the long run. There are several films (like Apocalypse Now or The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) that had difficult productions and that hasn't ruined the movie for me. Heaven's Gate is a film that hasn't worked for me at all and I have seen the 216 minute cut 3 times. Still, if this movie is loved by others besides myself, I suppose that is a good thing. By the way, Roger Ebert is a bit overrated anyway. I seldom agree with him.
  • By Dana W.
    December 25, 2012
    11:23 PM

    I have to agree with Aaron's analysis. i loved this movie even in its most butchered form. For a long while I thought i was the only one that loved it. The internet finally cured me of that mistake. I have always had a fascination for the past and old things, old ways and I suppose heaven's gate fits right into that. As Aaron said, it's nearly as much about place texture as story or character. Even the intentionally grainy photography looks like a moving Autochrome, though this process came along in 1903. But there is another trait that will never allow it to be enjoyed by many a modern moviegoer. That is it has a very odd, slow rhythm that can only be entered by surrendering your expectations of even 1950's pacing. Life in the 19th century was slower than life is now on the whole, and i feel Cimino really wanted to make a film that truly felt like the 1890's. Just think, still photographs were a novelty for working people, that's why the immigrants are getting a large group photo to split the cost. No films or electronics of any kind, instead People read anything they could get their hands on, If they could read. They had time to think, when they were't working six days a week, twelve to sixteen hours a day. Read Moby Dick today and often the modern mind screams "come on, will you, pick up the pace already", but that pace was how people experienced life back then. Most of the serious criticisms of Heavens Gate stem from this i believe. I May just be strange in that I wish some passages of Heaven's Gate were longer than they are, especially the Casper sequence. It takes time to become immersed in another world and If you cannot enjoy this process you will never like Heaven's Gate.
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  • By Tim Hulsey
    January 23, 2013
    12:42 PM

    Now if we could only get a widescreen director's cut of THE SICILIAN ...
    Reply
  • By aaron
    January 31, 2013
    01:32 PM

    You heard the man, Criterion. Get on it!
    Reply
  • By Gilles Antoine Duchaine
    February 05, 2013
    10:12 AM

    Yesterday, I presented Heaven's Gate at my school cineclub. There was almost 30 persons in the audience. I expected a controversal debate after the screening. But the main question was: "How can you hate or dislike this film? Just how?" I mean, you dont havé to love it to death, but calling it a bad movie? Nobody understood it last night. More than half of the audience, mainly film scholars, cailles it a perfect picture, a unquestionnable masterpiece.
    Reply
  • By Robert Perschmann, Minnesota
    March 12, 2013
    08:02 AM

    March 2013 Just saw it a few days ago. -Heaven's Gate is the best film that I have ever seen. I have been seeing them for a long time, old guy talking. My first accidental film viewing as a teenager that shifted me into serious mode was Bergman's the Magician. There was a celebration in my viewing room for that blu-ray. Criterion is the most important "thing" in my film viewing practice. "I am Cuba" was my first knock-out LD. Heaven's Gate is the Great Heaven's Gate. As we live through 2000 through 2013 we experience the truth of the ages that is Heaven's Gate. All of it is here in our world and our country. The movie is so painfully honest that it must be confronted with tears. Thankfully the beauty of life... and the joy are also plentiful. Mainly the movie is art. I am an art lover. I got married in the Marin County Civic Center in California because of a love for a masterpiece of architecture. At the time I lived in a stone cabin in the nearby redwood forest. Sitting in and near great buildings is a favorite pursuit. I love the work of Eero Saarinen... like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It means so much to me. I love the movies of Fellini because every frame of film is worthy of a fine picture frame. Heaven's Gate is an experience that fits into my life of loving art and... and being a citizen anti-fascist activist. Heaven's Gate is also masterpiece of nature. All my life I have felt different when a mountain was in my view. I suppose that we all love the sky, the clouds, the grass. A rare film quality is Great timing. Right, a movie that makes you truly feel in the moment requires an acute sense of timing. Clear your calendar for Heaven's Gate. Blu-ray and your best sound devices are in order. Thanks to Criterion I have access to a gift for the best humans that I know.
    Reply
  • By birdturd94
    March 16, 2013
    09:56 AM

    Daniel i have to agree There will be blood,Days of Heaven and Lawrence of Arabia are better with imagery and story telling and Heaven's Gate i kind of watched built up like everyone else and although no terrible it isn't great in story like those three movies which will go on for decades and decades as true movie classics!
    Reply
  • By Richard Peres
    March 18, 2013
    11:55 AM

    The longueurs ruin it for me, interminable periods of time when characters do and say nothing - an inordinate amount of "dead air." There must be at least 30 minutes of it that do not in today's faster-paced films add anything dramatically to the film.
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  • By Ev7
    March 26, 2013
    07:08 PM

    1. Stunning cinematography 2. The American Dream 3. The anti-western.
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  • By DCSnyder
    April 08, 2013
    12:05 PM

    Love the new transfer and restoration, but I miss the Intermission. The new cut loses one of my favorite shots in the film: John Hurt disappearing in the smoke. The Intermission also gives a natural break in time so that when Cully is woken up by the assassin on his way to Johnson County, it feels like a new day and not like he stopped to take a nap.
    Reply
    • By Duncan Watson
      March 26, 2014
      06:49 PM

      Absolutely right. Why Cimino did this is absolutely mystifying. Its as if Lean had cut the shot of Lawrence blowing out the match in "Lawrence of Arabia". Which means that, despite its shortcomings in terms of transfer quality, I'll still be hanging on to my old MGM DVD of "Heaven's Gate"--at least it retains the intermission footage--at any rate until such time as Cimino comes to his senses and brings back what he has so bafflingly banished.
  • By Ben Armington
    April 08, 2013
    03:38 PM

    Just received and watched my copy of this the other day, and it looks excellent (and I own the not blu ray version) and the film itself gets richer with each viewing. With it's well-intentioned but strangely ineffectual hero and it's overall aura of downbeatedness, I really feel that it follows Wild Bunch and McCabe and Ms Miller and points the way to Unforgiven in the lineage of truly awesome westerns. That said, the extras on the disc feel like a missed opportunity; all the interviews are strictly complementary and even repeat information, and the essay, by Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, is nice, but short on critical insight and plays as defending the film more than exploring it. It would have been cool to have Robin Wood's lucid analysis of the film, along with Steven (Final Cut) Bach's gossipy and ridiculously enjoyable account of the making, or even some of the bloodthirsty reviews from when the film was released for context.
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  • By WOLFF BOY
    October 29, 2013
    09:27 PM

    MOVIES THAT DESERVE THE CRITERION COLLECTION TREATMENT: The Squid and the Whale (2005), Requiem for a Dream (2000), The Fountain (2006), Black Swan (2010), After Hours (1985), Magnolia(1999) , Boogie Nights (1997), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), The Right Stuff (1983), Halloween (1978), Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), Delicatessen (1991), Dark City (1998), The Hours (2002)
    Reply
  • By Steve Harris
    April 06, 2014
    10:43 AM

    I just watched "Heaven's Gate" yesterday, and I'm really glad I got it. I remember sort of liking it when it first came out, but had real trouble hearing what the characters were saying. The soundtrack was muddy. That's all cleared up now. As far as the story line goes, as Westerns go, it's a fairly standard one. Character motivation, again not hard to follow. My one problem area was John Hurt's meaningless speech to open the movie. But given his character -- and his fate, that seemed appropriate. Thank you Critereon for taking a chance with this one. It's a great movie (certainly one of the most beautiful), and one of the most unfairly maligned films ever made.
    Reply
  • By Daniel W.
    April 26, 2014
    12:44 AM

    Looking back on Heaven's Gate now that some time has passed since Criterion released this title, I still don't like this movie...but it is no longer as terrible as I or maybe some others were making it out to be. I get what the film was trying to do and while I still don't think it was successful, I should at least applaud the effort that went into making it. I guess I was just at a point where I gave in to hyperbole. It is still not a good movie, but it's not terrible anymore (at least not to me).
    Reply
    • By Daniel W.
      April 26, 2014
      12:51 AM

      Also, I suppose it's a good thing that people love this movie.
  • By letrbuck
    May 28, 2014
    01:16 AM

    After several years of trying to sort through the garbage our expensive Satellite TV provides for movie watching, again seeing the film clips of Heavens Gate & awesome music. on this webpage I'm reminded; what a beautiful movie Cimino & his crew created. Even though we worked on this film, I did not realize for years after, the cute young man playing the fiddle in the Roller Rink, had actually written all the music. After all these years, the music still gets played in our house. We love our Criterion version of Heavens Gate & we know all the many long hours of extremely hard work the entire crew put into making this beautiful film.
    Reply
  • By Vince C.
    July 26, 2014
    03:39 AM

    This page is the first place I've ever read positive comments about Heaven's Gate. Too bad the film spelled the end of a studio and a career -- I'd like to have seen what else Cimino had up his sleeve. (Armageddon is part of the Criterion collection? Heresy!)
    Reply
    • By Daniel W.
      July 26, 2014
      11:12 AM

      I don't know. I Armageddon being in the collection amusing. To me it's a guilty pleasure.
  • By Daniel W.
    July 26, 2014
    11:13 AM

    Sorry. I meant to say "I find Armageddon being in the collection amusing. To me it is a guilty pleasure."
    Reply