Heaven’s Gate - Recommended by Ralph Mellon
If you’ve a quick four hours, it’s worth revisiting this catastrophic Western epic from 1980, just remastered for the cinema. The film which sunk United Artists (budget $7.5m, eventual cost nearly $40m), Michael (‘The Deer Hunter’) Cimino’s would-be magnum opus is strangely worthy of a place on that list of ‘films you should see’. It’s set in the Johnson County War of 1890s Wyoming, with wealthy Government-backed cattle barons drawing up a death list of 125 immigrant settlers they believed were looting their herds. Photography and period detail are quite splendid but, among all the striving for perfection, Cimino forgot to craft a story that could sustain 220 minutes, and the result is ponderous and often incoherent. It’s anti-American too; possibly why so many critics reviled it. The always terrible Kris Kristofferson stars, with John Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Sam Waterston, Jeff Bridges and Christopher Walken. Not good enough to be a flawed masterpiece but worth watching for its murky history.