Final Cut - The Making & Unmaking of Heaven's Gate

Heaven's Gate is a 1980 film directed by Michael Cimino and released by United Artists. The film suffered through a troubled production process in which the director was nearly fired after delivering a 325-minute workprint, which studio executives deemed too long. He then delivered a 219-minute version (considered the "original" director's cut) under time pressure for its theatrical premiere in the United States on November 19, 1980. After poor early critical reception, United Artists forced Cimino to cut it down again to 149 minutes for a worldwide release on April 24, 1981. The film only recouped a fraction of its $44 million budget and became one of the biggest box office bombs of all time.

MGM (the parent company of United Artists) commissioned a digital restoration of the film. The work was personally supervised by Cimino and Joann Carelli, the original producer. The "restored" director cut ran slightly shorter at around 217 minutes, largely due to the omission of the intermission, an older cinematic feature of films with longer running times. The restored version theatrically premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. Produced without the pressure of the previous releases, Cimino considers this as his definitive version. The restored director's cut was released on Blu-Ray Disc by The Criterion Collection. However, scenes involving violence to animals were censored in UK releases.[1]


UK censorship[]

In the 2012 restored director's cut, scenes involving cockfighting and horse injuries were considered offensive by the BBFC and were censored. As a result, the BBFC 15 Blu-ray release in the United Kingdom has a running time that is about 47 seconds shorter than the uncensored version.[2]

Where to find it uncensored[]

The original 219-minute director's cut can be found on older LaserDisc and DVD home video releases. The uncensored 2012 restoration can be found on Blu-ray releases outside of the United Kingdom, such as Germany.[2]


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