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Ellis on Cimino

from UnHerd

How Hollywood destroyed Michael Cimino

Talent alone couldn’t keep the lights on


Of all the downfalls in Hollywood history, Michael Cimino’s haunts me the most, destroyed by his artistic ambitions in a corporate town whose rules he didn’t want to play by. Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich may come close, but they never ruined an entire movement or destroyed a film studio. In a single stroke of hubris and artistic obsession, Cimino burnt down the New Hollywood that created him with just one movie: Heaven’s Gate (1980).

Filmmakers had made massive bombs before Heaven’s Gate and they have made massive bombs since. Three or four were released last year, including Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, which is by far the best film Del Toro has created. Both of these films are nominated for Best Picture Oscars this year and have probably lost far more money for their studios than Heaven’s Gate. How is it that Cimino became so famous and was able to create two towering works of art in the space of three years? And then become a pariah?

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Posted on March 19, 2022 by Editor

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