Director Michael Cimino did not work for five years after this film's critical and commercial failure, his next movie being Year of the Dragon (1985) in 1985, ironically, also an epic of sorts.
Publicity for this picture at the time of the film's release declared that the movie was the biggest budget western of all time.
The amount of film stock that was used amounted to approximately 1.5 million feet of film. Over a million feet of this was processed in the film labs.
The skating rink featured in the film is called "Heaven's Gate". That is the only connection this film appears to have to its title.
Fog machines and 20,000 tones of Fullers Earth fine dust were used by DOP Vilmos Zsigmond and director Michael Cimino to give the film a smoky and dusty atmospheric look atypical of 19th century period photographs. The Fullers Earth was sprayed into the air using gigantic fans.
Despite this western film's notorious financial and critical failure, the Hollywood films industry within about five years bizarrely revived the oater movie genre during the mid-80s producing a mini-cycle of Western movies. In 1985, the dream factory churned out such Western oaters as Silverado (1985), Rustlers' Rhapsody (1985), Pale Rider (1985) and Lust in the Dust (1985).
The picture was nominated for Worst Picture at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society's 4th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards in 1981.
The final battle sequence featured in the original cut film that Michael Cimino had screened for United Artists executives is rumored to have been the length of a full length motion picture. |