The Harvard scenes were shot at Oxford after Harvard denied permission to film on their grounds. They were the last scenes to be filmed, and Cimino was warned that he wouldn't be allowed to complete them unless he stayed on time and on budget every day of shooting.
The film's original title was "The Johnson County War" and the first versions of its screenplay under this working title went back as far as almost a decade prior to when the film was actually made.
Harvard Class orations and poems recited were from Charles Edward Grinnell (1862), Frank Sumner Wheeler (1872), James Holden Young (1872) and Andrew Peabody (1874).
The picture, first known as "The Johnson County War", was turned down by all the major studios until United Artists green-lighted the project after director Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978) won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Also as part of its "second coming', the restored version of the movie was also screened at both the prestigious Venice and New York film festivals in 2012.
Had Heaven's Gate (1980) been a hit instead of a flop, Michael Cimino intended to follow it up with another epic which he had already scripted: "Conquering Horse." Based on Frederick Manfred's novel, the screenplay was a generational saga, tracing the history of the Sioux Indians in America. Cimino planned for the entire movie to be told in authentic Sioux dialogue, with English subtitles. The picture has never been filmed.|