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Heaven's Gate is a dark, grim western set in the 1890s in the U.S. state of Wyoming. It was directed by Michael Cimino. The film was released in 1981. The film stars Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, and John Hurt. It is about the Johnson County War, a real-life event that occurred in late 19th century Wyoming. Heaven's Gate depicts this war as a battle between poor recently arrived European immigrants and established cattle ranchers. Kristofferson stars as Jim Averill, a marshall who becomes involved in the battle. He enters into a romance with Ella Watson, the local madam of a group of prostitutes. Their love affair is threatened by the violent turmoil in the area. Walken portrays Jim Champion, a stockman enforcer. Mickey O Rourke plays Nick Ray, Champion's friend. Jeff Bridges portrays John L. Bridges, a local businessman who builds a skating rink called "Heaven's Gate." John Hurt plays Billy Irvine, a Harvard classmate and college buddy of Averill's. Ultimately, the characters learn that there is a heavy price to pay for their actions during the war.

Heaven's Gate was a very expensive film for its time, costing approximately 44 million dollars to produce. The film was also noted for its length. Several different versions have been released. The original theatrical version ran over three and a half hours. Cimino was accused of being self-indulgent and pretentious for creating such a long and costly film.

Heaven's Gate received scathing views from critics when it was first released and was a box office flop. However, the passage of time has been kind to the film. Modern critics have often been more favorable, praising the film's acting and production values. No matter what is thought of its quality, Heaven's Gate is a historically significant film.

| 1981 | 2 hr 29 min | 6.8/10 | 57/100
Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Sam Waterston
Michael Cimino
Produced By
Joann Carelli

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