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Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision

Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision

by Charles Elton
Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision

Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision

by Charles Elton


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The first biography of critically acclaimed then critically derided filmmaker Michael Cimino—and a reevaluation of the infamous film that destroyed his career

The director Michael Cimino (1939–2016) is famous for two films: the intense, powerful, and enduring Vietnam movie The Deer Hunter, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1979 and also won Cimino Best Director, and Heaven’s Gate, the most notorious bomb of all time. Originally budgeted at $11 million, Cimino’s sprawling western went off the rails in Montana. The picture grew longer and longer, and the budget ballooned to over $40 million. When it was finally released, Heaven’s Gate failed so completely with reviewers and at the box office that it put legendary studio United Artists out of business and marked the end of Hollywood's auteur era.

Or so the conventional wisdom goes. Charles Elton delves deeply into the making and aftermath of the movie and presents a surprisingly different view to that of Steven Bach, one of the executives responsible for Heaven’s Gate, who wrote a scathing book about the film and solidified the widely held view that Cimino wounded the movie industry beyond repair. Elton’s Cimino is a richly detailed biography that offers a revisionist history of a lightning rod filmmaker. Based on extensive interviews with Cimino’s peers and collaborators and enemies and friends, most of whom have never spoken before, it unravels the enigmas and falsehoods, many perpetrated by the director himself, which surround his life, and sheds new light on his extraordinary career. This is a story of the making of art, the business of Hollywood, and the costs of ambition, both financial and personal.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419747113
Publisher: Abrams Press
Publication date: 03/29/2022
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 433,307
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Charles Elton was a director of the Curtis Brown agency, representing film directors and screenwriters in London and Los Angeles. He was an independent TV producer before becoming an executive producer of drama at ITV in England, where he has been responsible for many award-winning shows. He is the author of two novels.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I 1939-1976

Chapter 1 The Tarnished Coast 9

Chapter 2 Coffee Moment in Malibu 19

Chapter 3 The Secret World 31

Chapter 4 Thunderbolt in Hollywood 37

Part II 1976-1981

Chapter 5 Stalking the Deer Hunter 59

Chapter 6 The Body Count 93

Chapter 7 Opening the Gate 115

Chapter 8 The Circus Comes to Town 131

Chapter 9 Kurtz in Kalispell 139

Chapter 10 The Retreat from Moscow 165

Chapter 11 The Violinist on Roller Skates 175

Chapter 12 The Gates of Hell 181

Part III 1981-1996

Chapter 13 Footloose in Hollywood 207

Chapter 14 Chasing the Sun 223

Part IV 1996-2016

Chapter 15 Shadow Conversations 249

Chapter 16 The Woman from Torrance 265

Chapter 17 Phoenix 275

Chapter 18 June 30, 2016 293

Chapter 19 Wizard 299

Epilogue 311

Acknowledgments 315

Notes and Sources 319

Bibliography 335

Index 340

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