About once a decade Hollywood decides to get revisionist. This year the historical phenomenon the industry has decided to reassess is director Michael Cimino‘s 1980 film “Heaven’s Gate” — a pic that makes all three “Lord of the Rings” films together feel like a 30-second spot. Or, as the late New York Times critic Vincent Camby remarked, a four-hour walk around your living room seem interesting.
Content aside, the movie famously bled United Artists and forced the studio to close its doors.
But in Hollywood nothing is unforgivable, so it’s only appropriate that cable net Trio is revisiting the crime scene to see how bad the crime really was.
Next month the net is airing “Final Cut: The Making of ‘Heaven’s Gate’ and the Unmaking of a Studio,” a doc by Michael Epstein that’s based on Stephen Bach‘s book.
The film doesn’t give Cimino (who declined to participate in the project) angel’s wings, but it does make a case that obsessive behavior — waiting days for the right clouds, roller-waltzing classes for the cast — can also be called brilliance, or, at the very least, “vision.”
MGM is also getting over its schadenfreude. The studio is restoring “Heaven’s Gate” to Cimino’s original 219-minute version and cleaning up the print’s color and sound for a domestic TV sale.
In October the restored film will be shown in select theaters in New York, Paris and Melbourne.