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Ignacio Aguilar

Heaven's Gate (1980)

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I have just seen "Heaven's Gate" for the first time in its full-lenght cut, which runs for more than three and a half hours. I can't believe how it got so negative reviews by critics. It may be self indulgent, too long... but not bad by any means.


Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography deserves very high praises. He chose to emulate the look he delivered to "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and going further: he flashed both the negative and the prints, pushed the film one stop in development, used low-resolution and low-con lenses such as anamorphic zooms, double fog filters to create halos around light sources, plus lots of smoke and dust to diffuse the images even more. The end results are almost like watching old sepia-toned photographs and translates the viewer to the past as only other film may have done that good: the scenes featuring the young Vito Corleone in "Godfather, Part II", shot by Gordon Willis, ASC. I also enjoyed very much his lighting, mostly by hard sources coming through the windows during the day scenes, and motivated by candles and fires for night scenes. The whole thing doesn't look 100% realistic or natural, but it's so dreamy, soft and fuzzy that looks properly aged. Zsigmond classic operating with zoom lenses and cranes is marvelous as well.


Try to check it out, neither the film itself and even less its cinematography should dissapoint you.







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I saw it on the big screen a couple of years ago the "4h" cut, and it's absolutely gorgeous the photo the music it stays with you, moves you.


Sure the pacing may not be what we call "normal" but just when you are on your way out, it pulls you right back in.


I would not call it a masterpiece but at least it tries, and who knows with all the footage shot, maybe it's hiding in there somewhere, if Cimino ever went back to it.


As it stands now it's still a towering piece of cinema. And great show piece of production design and cinematography.


Thank you Stephen for the link it was great to see.


Now if he only could make a come back...

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