Director Michael Cimino Loved Wyoming
On the news of the death of Michael Cimino at 77, we're reminded that after he directed "The Deer Hunter," as quick as he became a huge success, he was almost forgotten. That was thanks to "Heave's Gate."
Cimino directed it after he wrote the story he based on The Johnson County War. It's part of our history, from when immigrants battled cattle barons in the earliest years of Wyoming statehood. President Benjaman Harrison had to send the U.S. Cavalry.
"Heaven's Gate" was expensive in part because of an all-star cast, which seems only more stunning today. Also Michael insisted on taking advantage of the western ski's beauty with many scenes shot at twilight, so work lasted only a few minutes on many days. United Artists studio was almost sunk by little return on a $44 million investment, and that was 1980.
Ironically over the years, many merits of "Heaven's Gate" became more lauded. It is reviewed as a great epic at film festivals.
Michael directed other movies that were mild hits, but none a financial success. Hollywood never again gambled big on him. He's remembered now for hills and valleys, himself having said, "Its about how we handle the valleys."