The period steam train engine used in the film had to be shipped to the production location from Denver, Colorado on flatbed railroad cars across several US states. The locomotive's journey was somewhat a convoluted serpentine trip because it was too large to fit through many of the modern railway tunnels
The picture was completely shot on location with no filming done on any studio sound stages. Most of the movie was shot in the American state of Montana.
Actor Jeff Bridges played a character with the same last name as his own. His role as saloon keeper John H. Bridges was expanded during the course of principal photography, the part being originally much smaller in the film's shooting script. Michael Cimino liked Bridges' performance so much that he continually increased his scenes during filming thus requiring re-writes to the script.
Some of the street scenes in the movie utilized eighty horse teams which had been harnessed and trained by retired horsemen, some had not worked in motion pictures since they worked on the chariot race in Ben-Hur (1959) twenty-one years earlier.
According to Steven Bach's book "Final Cut", after principal photography had ended, Michael Cimino was granted $3 million dollars to film the prologue and epilogue. The prologue scene that takes place at Harvard University, but which was shot in Oxford, England after Harvard had refused to let them shoot on the campus. He was given that money with an ultimatum which was to have the prologue done in the specific amount of time ordered by the studio with no more money to be spent on wasted film. However, Cimino asked for $5.2 million but the studio refused. Instead Cimino agreed to the $3 million. The studio would have completely scrapped the entire prologue and epilogue, if Cimino had not followed orders. |