Yet another slagging off of MICHAEL CIMINO’s film HEAVENS GATE by Joe Queenan….all the usual ‘it bankrupted United Artists’ stuff. In fact Heavens Gate is a FUCKING GREAT FILM – a class struggle western depicting the Johnson County wars in Wyoming betwwen cattle barons and immigrants and ‘anarchists’. This is my all time favourite film – though I concede you either love it or hate it – just pipping ‘The Battle of Algiers’ and ‘Rita,Sue and Bob Too'(straight up!) and ‘Dog Day afternoon’.
Heavens Gate has some great lines. ‘I have legal authority in this County – Fuck You’ ‘I am representing the President of the Uited States – Fuck him too’. In the love triangle between Huppert,Walken and Kristofferson Huppert asks ‘Cant a woman love more than one man?’ to which Kristofferson replies ‘Yep… but it sure as hell is inconvenient’.
The film runs to 219 minutes but there is a directors cut out there somewhere running to 5 hours and 20 minutes which I’d fucking love to see. I’ll spare you the ‘elegiac’ cliches but the film is beatifully shot and the music is haunting. Then there’s the roller skating sequence. The immigrants are facing extinction by a mercenary army on the way to kill them when Cimino switches to five minutes of exhilarating defiance of dancing on roller skates by hundreds of immigrants! You can see it on You Tube. After I saw the film first…I asked where they got the skates from. Now I leave that to the cynics. I’d love to see Heavens Gate on the big screen again so if anyone spots a screening let me know. I will travel.