Sunday, July 03, 2016
Tribute: Michael Cimino (1939-2016)
The press reported yesterday the passing of Hollywood legend and Academy-award winning director Michael Cimino (1939-2016).
Cimino -- a dazzling visualist -- directed eight feature films in his career.
Among these are the Oscar-winner The Deer Hunter (1978), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), Year of the Dragon (1985) and The Sicilian (1987).
But Cimino is remembered, primarily, for one of the most notorious box office bombs in movie history: Heaven's Gate (1980).
That film bankrupted United Artists, and transformed a promising directorial career into, essentially, a meme regarding catastrophic failure.
To this day, deeply troubled productions are referred to as a new Heaven's Gate.
Cimino was a controversial creative figure to both critics and co-workers, and yet it seems patently unfair to paint the man's career with just one brush: expensive failure.
To this day, Cimino's films -- even Heaven's Gate -- remain challenging, and visually remarkable. They often gazed at the angst surrounding the American psyche, and tread into uncomfortable territory.
I hope that the filmmaker's death will prove an opportunity to focus the attention of film scholars and film lovers on Cimino's work -- and an honest evaluation of his art -- rather than simply rehashing stories about lost money, or the man's singular personality.
Rest in peace, Michael Cimino.