Heaven's Gate

Director: Michael Cimino
Year Released: 1980
Rating: 3.0

I've read countless reviews and essays about this being one of the great clunkers of the 80's (if not all-time) - prompting me to see it, naturally - and was surprised to find it the most substantially empty and yet profoundly gorgeous film ever made. When you walk into a nearly four-hour movie you expect a glut of characters and plot developments to fill time and hold your attention, but Cimino and his crew are actually making a full-blown art project where the people are not nearly as important as the scenery, so the scenes are not shot around motivation or symbolism, but which way the clouds and mountains look best (think Malick without the voice-over). Debating whether or not it's Marxist is irrelevant: the movie isn't about man or his politics, but about how humans should be grateful they're a part of all this overwhelming nature - if the purpose is to be political, or raise serious questions about these individuals, it fails in a big way, since the information conveyed about these individuals in such a great period of time is so miniscule. For sheer experimental audaciousness, and for its 'loopy grandeur' (a Pauline Kael phrase), it deserves some kind of respect.