Saturday, July 2, 2016

Michael Cimino, journey to the end of a myth –

Michael Cimino died on 2 July. It seems he was 77 years old, although conflicting reports on his date of birth as well as many other aspects of his personality. Its very visible change in appearance was even fueled rumors about a possible sex change.

Michael Cimino will remain as embodying the character to the extreme the rise and fall , the ‘rise and fall of the so-called New Hollywood, with two successive films, the triumph of the Deer Hunter (1978) and the failure of La Porte paradise (1980).

Robert de Niro in the Deer Hunter

the first stands out as an achievement by its lyrical power, it offers the consecration -or confirme- to a generation of actors (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Savage), and open confrontation with the US defeat in Vietnam by a film for the general public.

a year before the other great work inspired by the same conflict, Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola, Cimino instilled an epic energy, human emotion and a very contemporary electricity to this story yet extremely dark. And as companies Majors had refused to produce, Universal found itself very well to have finally chosen to distribute the film being a huge international success heightened with four Oscars, including best picture and best director.

another studio, United Artists, then hastens to accompany Cimino on an even more ambitious project, the western fresco dimensions, with a premium cast (including Isabelle Huppert, alongside Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Brad Dourif, Joseph Cotten, Mickey Rourke …). The film explodes budgets, and is proposed by the director in a period of more than 5 hours, reduced first by the Studio in a little less than 4 hours, and after a disastrous home at 2:30 in 1981.

Kris Kristofferson in the Gates of paradise

This is a critical failure (the United States) and scathing commercial, which will lead to absorption by MGM in the hands of the finance shark Kirk Kerkorian of United artists – Studio formerly founded by Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, David Griffith and Mary Pickford to offer more creative freedom to artists

“delusions” of Cimino were not worse than Friedkin, Coppola, Spielberg or Beatty

Peter Biskind

What has happened? This is a system that has reached its limits, one that is set up in the 70s seeking -and often trouvant- the conflict but dynamic coexistence between copyright looks of affirmation and demand great show.

As written by columnist Peter Biskind, which adopts the point of view of producers, in the New Hollywood (Le Cherche-midi):

heaven’s Gate was the victim of a system that could as well have been fatal to Convoy of fear to Apocalypse Now to 1941 or Reds . The “delusions” of Cimino were not worse than Friedkin, Coppola, Spielberg or Beatty. “

What is at stake at this time is in any case a violent taken over by the Studios, whose leaders almost all change at that time, and that stifle creative autonomy ambitions, with such violence that one wonders to what extent they have not guided the failure.

the film, already in its version operated in 1981, and of course more with the director’s cut that will restore Cimino in 2012 after the existence of several other avatars, has indeed nothing to provoke such a rejection, in terms of its visual qualities and its narrative breath. Without necessarily deserve cursed masterpiece label given to a little mechanically in counterpoint to the hatred he aroused and its status as scapegoat of the industry, this is a movie to the original topic, formally ambitious, which features magnificent moments, and struggling to find its overall shape.

Cimino’s wars

But the “coup” in form Coppola, bosses Majors, brutal return to order the law of the market, adds perhaps another element, which echoes what the film says, again with an effect of radical reversal from the previous one.

the Deer Hunter was, yes, a masterpiece-a masterpiece of its time, but has not aged. It was also not a film about Vietnam, but a film about America, what unifies her children despite their diversity (the characters are of Ukrainian origin), the harshness of existence (they work in blast furnaces) and ordeals (to war).

the Gate of Heaven is dedicated to domestic civil war between the rich and the poor, the rich owners and penniless immigrants. This is a film about a country from a ruthless class struggle, a film that tears the supposed democratic founding narrative of the United States -what all Hollywood movies have always tried to hide, even when done by taking note of the fact that the mother of modern democracy America was born of genocide and initially prospered from slavery.

as in the scenario of the Gate paradise , it ends with a massacre, for the film and its director -it is significant that the neighbor who advise telling a similar story, 20 years later, Martin Scorsese with Gangs of New York , will see his film undergo a similar fate, although he will know to avoid the worst impacts on his career.

beyond the myth

His film career did not, however, limited to two large become legendary gestures

Designated as guilty of all the evils of the media and the industry, Cimino, he did not really recover. His filmmaking career however not limited to the two large become legendary gestures that are his second and his third feature film. Before that, noticed as a writer, he had started realizing the delightful and very tonic Lightfoot , which we prefer to remember under its original title, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot , 1974. Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges there were the heroes of a cocktail of comedy, action and provincial chronic, revisiting genres with a nonchalance quite graceful.

Michey Rourke in the Year of the dragon

four feature films signed by Cimino after heaven’s Gate , the most successful is certainly the first, the year of the dragon where Mickey Rourke in perhaps his best role plays a lonely cop and mouthed the war as a ruthless Chinese mafia that one can also see as a metaphor for the Studios system.

This dimension “second degree” is left with the surprising and unjustly despised next film, the Sicilian . perfectly legendary invention around the bandit Salvatore Giuliano, the film is betting – lost, but touching and impressive – a visual lyricism, a kind of opera of colors and movements, where there are echoes of 1900 Bernardo Bertolucci.

This new failure leads to a dietary remake, but not dishonorable, the Desperate in 1990 (after the movie William Wyler in 1955). Increasingly marginalized Cimino launches into Sunchaser (1996) attempts to find a solution about as desperate as the mystical quest of the young Indian character seeking healing his cancer.

Since Cimino longer appeared that at long at festivals, he had agreed to supervise the long and digitized version of paradise Doors , and contributed in 2007 to the collective film to each his own cinema celebrating 60 years of the Cannes film Festival with a devilish short and self-ironic, No Translation Needed .


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