Reportedly, the film's cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond once said that the key personnel who worked on the picture had thought prior to release that they had made a good film. Zsgimond has said he was depressed for about a year due to the film's massive drubbing by critics and enormous failure at the box-office.
Despite the film's critical and commercial failure, French critics compared director Michael Cimino to auteurs Orson Welles and Erich von Stroheim, one French critic calling Cimino "the Tolstoy of the camera".
Misuse of an oil-based stain during construction of some sets caused nearby Two Medicine Lake to be covered with an oily sheen for the duration of production.
Some of John Hurt's scripted scenes had to be re-written or canceled as he had to leave the production to start shooting on The Elephant Man (1980).
The shot of Kris Kristofferson waking from a drunken sleep and cracking a whip at the group of men that wake was shot in 52 takes and required a full day of filming. The single shot lasts less than a second in the final film.
To build the various large sets for the film, notable for their intricate detail, the production utilized the skills of around 150 carpenters. The picture was Oscar nominated for one Academy Award - for Best Art Direction. |