Vintage Cannes: 1980 - Knockin' on Heaven's Gate

by Ana Maria Bahiana May 24, 2017
Director Michael Cimino and actors Kris Kristofferson and Isabelle Huppert in Cannes 1980

cannes archives

By the time Heaven's Gate landed on the Croisette, a trail of rumors, allegations and serious problems was following it like a hound from hell. Hot from the success of 1978's The Deer Hunter - which received six Golden Globe nominations, with Michael Cimino winning as Best Director -  Cimino stirred a bidding war for his next project, the period drama, Heaven's Gate. United Artists won, although "winning" is a word that does not adequately describe what happened next, namely: a never-ending stream of production problems and delays; bad press; out of control budgets. In the end, the red ink brought about by Heaven's Gate would be the fatal blow that finished the most storied,important and prolific independent studio Holywood ever had. Cannes, however, was the first to see it, and welcomed it with open arms. Cimino took two of the movie stars - Isabelle Huppert and Kris Kristofferson - to the festival, and in the end the movie would be nominated for the Palme d'Or - before coming home to be utterly dismembered by reviewers and become a cautionary tale for producers big and small.