: Heaven’s Gate
Interesting Western from 1982 that I had never seen. This was the four hour extended version in high definition and I’m glad I saw it. It apparently bankrupted the studio it was so overbudget as the director was such a perfectionist. It’s easy to see why: it’s epic in scale and lush photography with huge scenes with hundreds of extras. The story is set in the 1870s in Wyoming as several college buddies end up on different sides of a dispute. Some work for the cattle barons who are upset at the stolen cattle being eaten by local immigrants who are starving. A death list is producing with 125 people on it: they are to be shot on sight. The sherrif is against this and fights the barons, and we basically end up with a war: hundreds of immigrants against hundreds of hired guns. It’s chaos, bloody, and horrible. Another plot line deals with the sherrif and another man both involved with the same woman, a prostitute who can’t decide which man she loves more. The two are at odds initially, but end up on the same side when her name shows up on the death list (she has accepted stolen cattle meat as payment for her services). Overall, I found the plot not that profound, though it was fascinating and educational. What really impressed me was the direction and photography, which is amazing. My favorite scene is near the beginning when an immigrant is gutting a cow behind a sheet curtain. We see the silhouette of a cowboy loom up on the white sheet, then the barrel of a rifle. Then there’s an explosion and the immigrant is lying bloody next to his cow, and we see the cowboy ride off on his horse as we watch through the large hole in the sheet. Stunning.