With McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Vilmos Zsigmond placed the photographing of Westerns on new foundations, but in Michael Cimino's next film he surpassed even this. The story of Heaven's Gate begins in 1870, while its truly epic chapter unfolds in 1890. It presents a world and a time when one and a half million immigrants came to America from Europe, immigrants who were not welcomed with open arms. These were poor Europeans, who fled destitution to a country in which the local balance of power ha...d already been established. The cattle barons of Wyoming did not tolerate starving settlers stealing their herds. And a death list was drawn up…
This, however, is merely the relatively straightforward plot. The visuals are what define the film, as a big epic is unimaginable without spectacular, sweeping long shots. And the long shots are filled not only with landscapes, but sometimes with multitudes of people. This is where Zsigmond's attraction as a cinematographer really lies. One of his great strengths, already evident in earlier films, is to capture people and objects in motion. Here he photographs people moving around vast spaces - dancing or roller-skating - in such a way that the viewer feels part of the experience of movement. A film with huge production costs, Heaven's Gate never recouped its budget. Nevertheless, perhaps precisely because of its extraordinary visual power, it remains a special piece of movie history to this day. For this reason, the film was digitally restored in 2012 and presented in the Venice Classics section of the Venice Film Festival. In this way, we now have the chance to make a renewed attempt to understand the work and creative efforts of an outstanding cinematographer.
The series is made possible with the support of the Hungarian National Film Fund.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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