R.I.P. Director Michael Cimino

Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Cimino has died at the age of 77.

Michael Cimino was one of the filmmakers of the ‘New Hollywood’ wave in the 1970s which pushed directors as the driving creative force behind filmmaking. He broke onto the scene with the 1974 heist film “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges.

It was his second film, 1978’s post-Vietnam war drama “The Deer Hunter,” which became a bonafide cinematic classic and Best Picture Winner. A scathing look at the war’s fallout on the lives of people from small town Pennsylvania, it remains a major milestone in the careers of its stars like Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Savage.

Cimino’s third film became famous, albeit for other reasons. The 1980 western “Heaven’s Gate” earned a reputation for being one of the worst films ever made, and one of the biggest cinematic bombs of all time, after it made less than one-tenth of its budget back in domestic box-office. The film was also a major contributor in the collapse and subsequent selling off of United Artists to MGM. Irreparably destroying the reputation of Cimino, “Heaven’s Gate” remains cited as a reason that films now come under more studio control than they did in the 1970s. The director no longer has absolute control.

As time has passed, “Heaven’s Gate” has been reassessed in the wake of the 216 minute director’s cut. Released by Criterion on Blu-ray and DVD in 2012, it adds 60+ minutes back into the film and is called “the complete version Michael Cimino intended to make.”

He went on to direct four further films including the Mickey Rourke-led “Year of the Dragon,” the Christopher Lambert political drama “The Sicilian,” the Woody Harrelson kidnap drama “The Sunchaser,” and probably the best known of the four – the Anthony Hopkins and Mimi Rogers-led “Desperate Hours”.

The news of Michael Cimino’s passing was made public by Theirry Fremaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival. Fremaux tweeted that he “died peacefully, surrounded by his family and the two women who loved him.”

Source: BBC News