Heaven's Gate
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A notorious artistic and financial failure, Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate was blamed for critically wounding the movie Western and definitively ushering out the 1970s Hollywood New Wave of young, brash, independent filmmakers. Taking a revisionist, post-Vietnam view of American imperialism, Cimino used the historical Johnson County War incident in Wyoming to create an impressionistic tapestry of Western conflict between poor immigrant settlers and rich cattle barons led by Canton (Sam Waterston) and his hired gun Nate Champion (Christopher Walken). Attempting to mediate is idealistic… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"On a purely sensory level, Heaven's Gate is overpowering."
‑ Dana Stevens, Slate
"It really is a stinker."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Enormous, but also gorgeous in its enormity."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"It is a demanding film, without a doubt - but a passionate one."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"Its status as a true wonder-work of American cinema is now surely beyond doubt."
‑ Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph
"If anything, Michael Cimino's inert disaster of a Western has gotten worse over the years ..."
‑ Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"The balance of director Michael Cimino's film is so confusing, so overlong at three-and-a-half hours and so ponderous that it fails to work at almost every level."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"The first critics to lay eyes on it mistook the emphasis on the personal and painterly for self-indulgence - static naval gazing. This confuses incident with the incidental."
‑ Ed Whitfield, The Ooh Tray
"Cimino endows the visuals with a Zola-esque texture and realism. But the characterisation and dramatic reach go beyond even that."
‑ Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
"The set-pieces are majestic and its disenchanted view of the american frontier myth still rings ominously true."
‑ Philip Kemp, Total Film
"The longer version is impressive as long as the characters and settings remain in long shot; only when the camera gets closer do the problems start."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"For all the abuse heaped on it, this is -- in its complete version, at least -- a majestic and lovingly detailed Western which simultaneously celebrates and undermines the myth of the American frontier."
‑ Tom Milne, Time Out
"I will leave others to pick nits off this epic panorama."
‑ Philip French, Observer [UK]
"Emotionally stings like few other westerns."
‑ Glenn Heath Jr., Little White Lies
"Michael Cimino's film represented a slight return to classicism--to larger-than-life Panavision spectacle and crane shot-managed majesty, however contradicted by narrative bleakness."
‑ Joseph Jon Lanthier, Slant Magazine
More reviews for Heaven's Gate on Rotten Tomatoes