Cimino Never Got Over “Heaven’s Gate”

French actress Isabelle Huppert, still scoring raves for her work in Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle,” has been on the scene for decades. One of her most famous roles was playing one of the leads in the 1980s Michael Cimino western drama “Heaven’s Gate”.

The film remains famous for being one of the most famed movie flops of all time – going massively over budget, fizzling at the box-office, faring poorly with critics and almost effectively destroying United Artists. Cimino’s career, coming off the critical and box-office success of “The Deer Hunter,” never quite recovered from that blow.

Huppert stayed in touch with him over the years and saw him a few months before he died back in July. Speaking at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and TV earlier this month (via THR), she said Cimino himself never really got over the film’s failure:

“I loved him, of course. He was extraordinary, probably one of the greatest living American filmmakers… Basically he never really, deep inside, he never really got over it. But it was completely inspired. I went there for two months, and then we ended up being there, in Montana, for seven months.”

Huppert last saw the picture at a film festival in France after Cimino re-mastered the print with all new colors:

“It was a bit weird for me, I have to say, because the colors were very different. You know, the colors of the original film were very [muted]. It was Vilmos Zsigmond, the great cameraman who passed away too, recently. And Michael and Vilmos didn’t get along so well. After the movie, Michael always thought that it was not the color he wanted. It was a bit sepia-like. And then Michael was very happy with the new [version].

When I first saw it, the green was so green, and the red was so red. It was very, very different from what I saw in the first place. But he was happy that he did it. I think he was happy, because also he was completely immersed in the film again by doing this, because it took him many weeks to do that version.”

You can hear her talking about Cimino below: