James Averill, a Harvard graduate, is the sheriff of prosperous Jackson County, Wyo., when a battle erupts between the area's poverty- stricken immigrants and its wealthy cattle farmers. The politically connected ranch owners fight the immigrants with the help of Nathan Champion, a mercenary competing with Averill for the love of a local madam. Averill and Champion begin to question their decisions as the struggle escalates.
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Heaven's Gate is a 1980 American epic Western film written and directed by Michael Cimino, and starring Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif, Joseph Cotten, Geoffrey Lewis, David Mansfield, Richard Masur, Terry O'Quinn, Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe and Nicholas Woodeson, the last two in their first film roles. Loosely based on the Johnson County War, it portrays a fictional dispute between land barons and European immigrants in Wyoming in the 1890s.Cimino's follow-up to his critically acclaimed film The Deer Hunter (1978), Heaven's Gate was shot on location in Montana and Idaho. The production faced numerous setbacks, including cost overruns, significant retakes, bad press (including allegations of animal abuse on set) and rumors about Cimino's allegedly authoritarian directorial style. Cimino had an expensive and ambitious vision for the film, pushing the film nearly four times over its planned budget.After its premiere in November 1980, the film received significant critical backlash, prompting United Artists to pull it from theaters. In April 1981, a truncated re-cut version of the film was released, though it remained a financial failure, earning only $3.5 million against its $44 million budget, and was subsequently condemned as one of the worst films ever made. The film's failure at the box office became associated with United Artists' end as an independent major studio. According to some film historians, such as Peter Biskind, the film's financial failure resulted in the demise of director-driven film production in the American film industry, steering back toward greater studio control of films.In the decades since the release, however, general assessment of Heaven's Gate has become more favorable. The 1980 re-edit has been characterized as "one of the greatest injustices of cinematic history," while later re-edits have received critical acclaim. The BBC ranked Heaven's Gate 98th on its list of the 100 greatest American films of all time.
Pinewood Studios, United Kingdom
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