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Heaven's Gate, June 18

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction

Sunday, June 18, 2006
3:00 p.m. Heaven's Gate
Michael Cimino (U.S., 1980)

The restored director's cut of Michael Cimino's monumental Western returns to the PFA screen. Notorious for its disastrous budget overruns, released in the United States in a brutally truncated version, Heaven's Gate was reviled by American critics in 1980, but many Europeans who saw the complete version a few years later hailed it as a masterpiece. No one ever disputed that the cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond was spectacular, the locations magnificent, the period detail painstaking. Set in 1890, the film tells of Wyoming's Johnson County Wars, in which cattle barons banded together against destitute immigrant farmers. It stars Kris Kristofferson as an idealistic marshal, Christopher Walken as the cattlemen's henchman, and Huppert as a prostitute involved with both; "her dance with Kristofferson reveals Cimino and Zsigmond at their icon-making best" (James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario).

• Written by Cimino. Photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond. With Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges. (219 mins plus intermission, Color, 35mm, From Sony Pictures Releasing)