Video: Heaven’s Gate trailer

The new trailer for the rerelease of Michael Cimino’s western, long recognised as a magnificent achievement of rare ambition.

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Though widely released in a mutilated short version and reviled for its extravagant budget, Michael Cimino’s western – here complete and meticulously restored – has long been recognised as a magnificent achievement of rare ambition.

Following the superbly staged opening scene of an 1870 Harvard graduation ceremony, the film flashes forward to 1882, when two former students, marshal James Averill (Kris Kristofferson) and his friend Billy Irvine (John Hurt), are caught up in the Johnson County Wars. Among the mercenary gunmen hired by Wyoming’s ruthless cattle barons to rid the region of its impoverished immigrant farmers is Nate Champion (Christopher Walken), who just happens to love Ella (Isabelle Huppert), a brothel madam who is also involved, with cruel irony, with Averill… Chronicling a few fateful days in a bloody conflict that had little to do with the professed ideals of the American dream, the film is remarkable for its sweep and scale, for its painstakingly detailed period accuracy, for Vilmos Zsigmond’s superb ’Scope camerawork, and for a cast that also includes Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif and Joseph Cotten.

Geoff Andrew

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