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A few words about...™ Heaven's Gate -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#21 of 322 OFFLINE   Powell&Pressburger

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Posted November 22 2012 - 04:36 PM

I watched Heaven's Gate for the first time ever today on the Criterion BLU edition. To think that this cut would be thought of as bad at all, maybe the film was just ahead of its time. I don't think the audiences were ready. I hate to bring up another work when discussing another work. I really don't want to compare them at all they should be judged on their own. However if you have seen Deadwood than it owes a lot to Heaven's Gate. Pacing, rawness and letting a storyline flow I see comparisons. Yes, Brad Dourif is in both Deadwood and H.G.   Heaven's Gate is just as fresh now as it could have been in 1980. Only that one shot 
on the boat blue screened at the end of the film
   hurts the film at all. The film IMO is never boring and to be honest is a much better film than most films released in the last decade. The cinematography itself is a wonder to look at. Isabelle Huppert is a revelation in the role of Ella, I've seen her in films before but this role is a great one and she owns it.    Michael Cimino should be very proud of this release, to see his film finally released in a caring manner. 

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#22 of 322 OFFLINE   Jim*Tod

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Posted November 22 2012 - 09:08 PM

Thanks Peter Neski for the info. I know flashing of the negative was popular with cinematographers in the 70's and something Zsigmond used in several films. This was the first time I had heard though of flashing the prints. Still would be interested to hear what Zsigmond thinks of this new restoration and blu ray.

#23 of 322 OFFLINE   rsmithjr

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Posted November 22 2012 - 10:44 PM

I would greatly have preferred to see a fuller examination of the process of the making of the film, but it is clear that Cimino would not brook this concept.  I hope that at some point, another company does put out a DVD with the Final Cut documentary, or perhaps with a new one.  There are lessons here that we do need to remember, regardless of whether Cimino wishes to sweep them away.
I see your point but I take a different view. It is time to view "what is on the screen" itself and evaluate that without whatever baggage it carries, however interesting or otherwise important that baggage is.

#24 of 322 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted November 23 2012 - 12:26 AM

I'm certainly one who has been calling for a better rounded presentation on this disc. Criterions have the tendency to be archival and to ignore such relevant controversy seems like a sop to Cimino. I understand it and accept it, but I'm not happy about it. I was able to get through about a half hour of the film and it indeed looked VASTLY improved to what I'd seen before. Dialogue seemed a bit more clear but I did have to turn on my subtitles with Richard Masur by the train. The score is truly lovely and I've listened to the CD of it many more times than I've seen the film. Perhaps I've been "ruined" on the film by reading Final Cut 4 times, but I've certainly found the film (and it's making) interesting and now more than ever beautiful, just not particularly entertaining.
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#25 of 322 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted November 23 2012 - 12:29 AM

I see your point but I take a different view. It is time to view "what is on the screen" itself and evaluate that without whatever baggage it carries, however interesting or otherwise important that baggage is.
If there were bonus materials present on the disc - would these prevent someone from only watching the film? Do people feel that the disc would have been authored in such a way that this material would be force-played before the film could screen?
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#26 of 322 OFFLINE   rsmithjr

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Posted November 23 2012 - 07:45 AM

If there were bonus materials present on the disc - would these prevent someone from only watching the film? Do people feel that the disc would have been authored in such a way that this material would be force-played before the film could screen?
While I would not necessarily have been adverse to the inclusion of other materials, the real deal here is the movie. I looked at the bonus materials that are available with the film. All concerned the film itself rather than its reception. For example, I enjoyed David Mansfield's discussion of his film score. What a sad thing to write such a wonderful score, and be seen on screen playing it (very effectively!), and to get such a cold shoulder of a response. But he doesn't even talk about that, he focuses on his music. I read Final Cut when it came out. It is still available. I have seen the documentary, read numerous scathing reviews, etc. These materials are all available elsewhere. At this point, I simply think it is time to start looking at the film itself, now available for the first time with reasonable color timing, rather that continue to deal with its reception and history.

#27 of 322 OFFLINE   bosque

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Posted November 23 2012 - 08:05 AM

Heaven's Gate is an excellent movie and to watch it now on Blu-Ray is so good I would be in tears if I were the sort of person to shed tears about movie transfers. Unless I'm starting to lose my hearing I thought the soundtrack remained a problem, although I notice now that is usually whenever Kris Kristofferson speaks that I have difficulty catching quite what it is he has said. It's been suggested that Cimino made the mistake of having his actors speak against a barrage of background noise, but even without that Kristofferson doesn't - to my ears - come across as speaking with crystal clarity.

#28 of 322 OFFLINE   Vincent_P

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Posted November 23 2012 - 12:40 PM

Thanks Peter Neski for the info. I know flashing of the negative was popular with cinematographers in the 70's and something Zsigmond used in several films. This was the first time I had heard though of flashing the prints. Still would be interested to hear what Zsigmond thinks of this new restoration and blu ray.
The HD version streaming on Netflix is based on John Kirk's earlier photochemical restoration and was made with Zsigmond's involvement. It has the original pastel/sepia toned look and is well worth checking out, even though I prefer this "new", lush look (which is actually pretty close to the look of the European DVD release of the short cut). Vincent

#29 of 322 OFFLINE   Jim*Tod

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Posted November 23 2012 - 02:05 PM

I had also seen the version shown on MGM HD, which looks more like the Netflix streaming version but with a stronger image quality and somewhat better sound.

#30 of 322 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted November 23 2012 - 02:21 PM

Wish I could get my hands on MGM HD but it's impossible here. I'd really like to study that version supervised by Vilmos Zsigmond.

#31 of 322 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted November 23 2012 - 02:26 PM

It isn't a steal for me. I saw this movie when it first came out and I was privileged - I didn't realise it at the time - to see the full version. I didn't think much of it and that was before Heaven's Gate became widely regarded as garbage. I've never seen it again. If this BRD was at a normal price, I might buy it just to see the film once more, but I'm not paying Criterion prices for a BRD I'll watch only once.
Take another look-see, Robin9. The film still has the same dramatic problems, but there is much to engage a viewer and much to appreciate. The older I get the more I like it. I recommend it.

#32 of 322 OFFLINE   Vincent_P

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Posted November 23 2012 - 06:13 PM

Wish I could get my hands on MGM HD but it's impossible here. I'd really like to study that version supervised by Vilmos Zsigmond.
The "before" clips shown in the restoration demonstration on the Criterion Blu-ray appear to have been taken from the John Kirk/Vilmos Zsigmond-supervised HD master made from Kirk's earlier photochemical restoration, so that should give you an idea what it looks like. Incidentally, I have to wonder, where the heck did the outtakes that are shown during the Cimino/Carelli "Illustrated Interview" supplement come from? I thought all the trims from HEAVEN'S GATE had been junked in the early 1990s? Vincent

#33 of 322 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted November 23 2012 - 07:45 PM

When was this photochemical restoration done? In the 1990s? I want to see that. The whole thing. Not just the clips. Criterion should have pressed that on Blu-ray as well.

#34 of 322 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted November 23 2012 - 09:32 PM

The Netflix HD streaming version should show you what you're after Richard
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#35 of 322 OFFLINE   Robin9

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Posted November 24 2012 - 02:17 AM

Take another look-see, Robin9. The film still has the same dramatic problems, but there is much to engage a viewer and much to appreciate. The older I get the more I like it. I recommend it.
Richard, I trust your judgement and I'll follow your recommendation. I've placed my order with Barnes & Noble and via their various discounts I'm paying $17.49 plus shipping. Can't complain about that. Like you, I absolutely love Westerns.

#36 of 322 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted November 24 2012 - 04:05 AM

When was this photochemical restoration done? In the 1990s? I want to see that. The whole thing. Not just the clips. Criterion should have pressed that on Blu-ray as well.

It was 2003/4; there's a piece here from 2005 - Heaven can wait:

"...Now Heaven's Gate is facing a drubbing all over again. Bingham Ray, the studio executive who commissioned the restoration, was ousted from MGM/UA not long after he gave the green light to Kirk. The original idea was that the newly minted Heaven's Gate would be released in tandem with Epstein's documentary and that both would be issued on a special edition DVD. Post-Ray, MGM's enthusiasm for the project rapidly cooled and Kirk's budget shrank. When MGM re-released the film in the US it was with the minimum of fanfare. Predictably, it did minimal business..."

There's a little from Kirk on his restoration on various sites; Google 'John Kirk Heaven's Gate' - BTW, he seemed to think the outtakes were junked too, but adds, 'unless Cimino has them'...
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#37 of 322 OFFLINE   Peter Neski

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Posted November 24 2012 - 12:00 PM

I remember when I first saw it,I was very happy with it ,very much like this new version,but has browner image,the most important thing next to the sharpness of these new versions is the image being clear of spots and marks,The new version is really super ,and that's 2k not 4k

#38 of 322 OFFLINE   Peter Neski

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Posted November 24 2012 - 12:08 PM

"The "before" clips shown in the restoration demonstration on the Criterion Blu-ray appear to have been taken from the John Kirk/Vilmos Zsigmond-supervised HD master made from Kirk's earlier photochemical restoration, so that should give you an idea what it looks like." your right,I didn't think it was, But I checked ,while most of the streaming version looks very much the same some of the shots have a lot more color while I don't remember where I saw it ,Vilmos said something about a extra layer(of something like it) of brown being added to the prints(or negative I don't remember) so when they did the short version they skipped this step,and maybe the flashing of the prints, The Blue Ray doesn't have that extra brown or the extra flashing (I Think)

#39 of 322 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted November 26 2012 - 01:03 AM

The Netflix HD streaming version should show you what you're after Richard
I can't stream and so I'm not a netflix customer. Will just have to go without it, I'm afraid un less it gets released somehow.
Richard, I trust your judgement and I'll follow your recommendation. I've placed my order with Barnes & Noble and via their various discounts I'm paying $17.49 plus shipping. Can't complain about that. Like you, I absolutely love Westerns.
Heaven's Gate has many virtues and Criterion has done justice by it. But if you still don't like it you can always sell it to me for a backup copy.

#40 of 322 OFFLINE   theonemacduff

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Posted November 28 2012 - 12:16 AM

People can correct me if I'm wrong, but flashing the negative means, I think, flashing the stock before you actually load it and shoot the scenes, so it's not something you can retroactively "fix," or rather, not something you could easily fix; the process takes out some of the density before even a foot of film is exposed. The additional exposure is built into the shots, and is what gives the film it's pastel-ish look. I can only speculate that the flashing of the stock was relatively minor, to allow for additional flashing on the prints, if and where it was thought to be necessary.





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