b. 3 February 1939 in New York City, New York, USA
d. 2 July 2016 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Michael Cimino is a name that unfortunately says little to many people now, even if they love cinema. In fact, more than 40 years have passed since his career ran aground until he disappeared in the mists of memories and regrets for what could have been and instead was not. It all took place in just two years and around two films: one, The Deer Hunter (1978), his highest point, topped off by five Oscars, makes him one of the most important directors of the Hollywood Renaissance, like Scorsese, Coppola, De Palma and Spielberg. The other, Heavens’ Gate (1980), could have been  Cimino’s magnum opus among the immortals of the history of cinema and instead it was the title that transformed ambition into a nightmare, conditioning the rest of the director’s artistic life, effectively blocking it in a future full of frustrated hopes. Just as the rise had been lightning-fast (only two screenplays, Silent Running, 1972, and Magnum Force, 1973, and a popular debut, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, 1974, for Eastwood’s Malpaso), so was the fall, so ruinous it prevented all attempts at recovery. If after The Deer Hunter he was the film-maker of immense  that everyone wanted a piece of, after Heaven’s Gate the consideration of him collapses and for everyone he is a utopian, sterile and fruitless nuisance, always in conflict with the productions. 

Perhaps, however, after a long time, it would be appropriate to try to place Cimino in the right artistic dimension, looking in perspective at what his career was and what it could really have been, if the fierce controversies that accompanied (and often anticipated) the Heaven’s Gate’s release did not emerge. All the credit gained with the two previous films vanished. 

Cimino was never an avid cinephile and never had a cinematographic background like the other Movie Brats of the time, having taken courses in art and architecture at university. He has no experience in television series, he has never been an assistant on set for any director. His cinematographic references come from the admiration for John Ford, Akira Kurosawa and Luchino Visconti1, filtered by a passion for the classicism of the staging. His favourite story has always been the one told by King Vidor in The Fountainhead (1949), based on Rand’s novel: for the visionary Howard Roark, an architect like him, for refusing to become a hero at his work. Cimino is a son of a distant time that does not go well with the modernist politics of American cinema of the seventies, even if this knowledge seems to enhance the natural scenario that is the main background to many of his stories. Furthermore, Cimino has a particular vision of America, which originates from a nation’s identity problem, as underlined by many of the American films of the seventies, but the identity problem he proposes is fixed on a nostalgic person who has the taste of paradise irremediably lost. On this basis, Cimino plans his debut, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, in 1974, after having written a screenplay that he proposes to Clint Eastwood. 

The first step: Thunderbolt & Lightfoot 

Eastwood, surprised by Cimino’s resourcefulness, allows him to make his debut behind the scenes and immediately a dilemma arises in the director on how to reconcile the love for the classic form of Hollywood cinema with a historical and aesthetic period that aspires to a radical renewal. For Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, Cimino uses motifs, themes and structures of the contemporary cinema of his time, immersing them in the depth of an author’s gaze that constantly looks at the fullness of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Although Cimino deeply hates the term “Road Movie”2, the film takes place in the same open spaces that have characterized the new American cinema from Easy Rider onwards. And in the representation of space, which from that moment becomes an essential character of his cinema, Cimino, recalling the lesson of John Ford and Anthony Mann, knows how to grasp the real nature of the landscape, its essence in confrontation with the characters , obtaining from Eastwood an authentic investiture («boy, you have the sense of immensity»). Apparently, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot is a film immersed in the Montana landscape that actually hides a series of individual and general themes that enrich its substance and make it a particularly representative debut, an anticipation of what Cimino will achieve (or will try to achieve) afterwards . Telling the story of a robbery carried out by aged characters who have long lost the opportunity of their life, Cimino outlines an epic of individual defeat and reflects with nostalgia on the progressive disappearance of an America of the origins, an image of a certain innocence now lost, an America of fathers that is fading with the arrival of ruthless and indifferent progress. The same loot, hidden years earlier by the band of disillusioned and embittered old robbers led by Clint Eastwood and George Kennedy has now disappeared because the school in which it was placed has also disappeared; it becomes the symbol of an old world in transformation that displaces and loses the protagonists of the past, totally unsuitable to connect with the present. Cimino represents the conflict between old and new through the two opposite characters played by George Kennedy and Jeff Bridges, one violent and intolerant, the other young, ironic and irreverent. The message is clear: with the killing of the character played by Bridges (Lightfoot) by the old criminal portrayed by Kennedy, it is the hope of a new America that vanishes due to the responsibilities of the older generation. 

Cimino’s work on some elements that will then be constant in his subsequent films is already evident. The friendship between Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges takes shape as an exchange, as it will be for Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter and Walken and Kris Kristoffersson in Heaven’s Gate. In particular, as Bridges brings a new vitality to Eastwood’s suspended life in the past, Eastwood confronts his youngest friend as if he were a father ready to protect him and to keep him from constantly falling into trouble. But failing immediately after the robbery, when his absence allows George Kennedy’s character to beat Bridges so hard that his injuries kill him. For Cimino the characters are the engine of the story and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot shows the attention with which they are defined. Their development is inserted into an interlocking narrative structure, which follows the various characters in their actions and various behaviours before the robbery, explaining the action but illustrating the personality of each one. Situations alternate but they all arrive at the same decisive point immediately after the robbery to resolve the plot. It is a crosscutting technique that is not yet the characteristic block illustration of The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate, but which demonstrates how Cimino’s Cinema also wants to act on the timing of the narrative. 

The pinnacle: The Deer Hunter 

Critical and public appreciation for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot opens up new possibilities for Cimino. Some of the projects on which he begins to work are interrupted: among these, Pearl, a musical biography of Janis Joplin which will then be made in 1979 by Mark Rydell. Cimino will not even be mentioned in the titles, despite the fact that he had written the script. The record company EMI, eager to diversify its products, calls him to propose a film that Cimino is not interested in. As a reaction, he proposes the subject of The Deer Hunter. Vietnam, a few years after the withdrawal of American troops, is still a hot topic, few films have been made (the reactionary The Green Berets, 1968, by John Wayne and Ray Kellogg, the metareflexive Greetings, 1968, by De Palma, the youthful The Strawberry Statement, 1970, by Stuart Hagmann, Elia Kazan’s independent The Visitors, 1972). The release of The Deer Hunter, in 1978, opened a trail, quickly followed by films like Sidney J. Furie’s The Boys in Company C, Ted Post’s Go Tell to Spartans, Who’ll Stop the Rain by Karel Reisz, Big Wednesday by John Milius and Hair by Milos Forman, before Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was released in 1979. 

The Deer Hunter tells how the trauma of war disrupts the lives of a small community of second generation immigrants, or, more subtly, how the idea of ​​Vietnam, as an experience, symbol and state of mind, paradoxically invades the United States as much as it does3. The US invaded Vietnam militarily. But beyond the extreme crudeness with which the Vietnam conflict is portrayed, Cimino accurately describes the consequences on his characters, confirming them as the fundamental centre of his narrative. Within the group of friends from the industrial town of Clairton, Pennsylvania, emerge Robert DeNiro’s Michael and Nick, played by Christopher Walken, both members of a community originally from Eastern Europe. In practice, Michael and Nick are a two-headed character, two perfect protagonists created by Cimino, because the characteristics of one, apparently opposite, merge into those of the other to operate an exchange that feeds on the fascination of the double. Their exchange is highlighted through the character of Linda, played by Meryl Streep, Nick’s girlfriend but almost naturally falls into Michael’s arms when Nick disappears in Southeast Asia. And the reciprocity between the two protagonists, more than in the poignant final confrontation at the Russian roulette table, in which Nick finally shows that he recognizes his friend Michael while still pressing the trigger aimed at his temple. This is marked by Cimino with a whole series of particular shots in which Michael is shown in his dual nature, reflected in a pool of water or, even, on the lid of his friend’s coffin. In Michael, and in all the veterans, says Cimino, all the souls of those who have fallen in Vietnam are concentrated. 

Cimino and Robert DeNiro on the set of The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter revolves around the metaphor of the One shot, to which the otherwise enigmatic title is also linked. The only shot to be fired at the deer during the hunt to avoid having any advantages is an ethic that expresses an inflexible philosophy of life that for Michael will collide with the trauma of war and the loss of his best friend. In a world structured at distinct levels like that of The Deer Hunter (from the infernal ones, the foundry and the cages immersed in the water of the river, to the higher ones, such as the hunting mountains), the One Shot is an attempt at purity in a world that, after the experience of war, is not pure. A contradictory idea by definition, because violence deludes itself into being a challenge, while it is only oppression. The One Shot, however, is also the starting point of a journey of knowledge made by Michael, who will understand the error of his fundamentalism. This frustrated pursuit of purity, after Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, for Cimino is another chapter on the crisis of an America that has lost its original identity, those same values ​​of that frontier that made Michael’s character assimilate to a new Natty. Bumppo by James Fenimore Cooper, a man who wants to maintain his integrity by approaching death in the sacredness of nature4

The Deer Hunter shows its originality in a rather unusual structure even for American cinema of the seventies. Divided into three large blocks according to the place where the story is set (Clairton, Vietnam, again Clairton), it has in the section dedicated to the war (forty-two minutes) the shortest chapter (the initial and the final are, respectively , sixty-eight and seventy minutes), confirming his desire for it to be an in-depth reflection on the consequences of the conflict rather than a War Movie. Cimino tackles the three blocks differentiating them in style (in the first block the long takes prevail, in the second the editing becomes more fragmented and claustrophobic, in the third the rhythm is relaxed again) and using the narrative time in an eccentric way, dilating the situation without worrying about the principles of narrative economics (for example in the long and stupendous opening sequence of the wedding). Cimino’s aim is to repeat the elements of the various blocks in different contexts to compare them, giving rise to an irremediable sense of loss between one block and another. 

The film is the subject of fierce controversy. Cimino is accused of being a fascist for adopting an exclusively American perspective. The famous Russian roulette scene, used by Cimino to render the fatalism of war allegorical, is criticized for its historical improbability. The same scene is the pretext for a series of accusations by psychologists and educators because it is considered a source of inspiration for a long chain of suicides. It is one of the first controversies of which Cimino will be the victim, who in his Conversations en miroir complained that he was considered a homophobe for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, a fascist for The Deer Hunter, a revolutionary Marxist for the Heaven’s Gate, a racist for the Year of the Dragon, a revisionist for The Sicilian, a supporter of domestic violence for Desperate Hours and a supporter of new age culture for Sunchaser5. Nevertheless, The Deer Hunter is a huge success: it cost 15 million dollars, collected 50 and won 5 Oscars (best film, direction, supporting actor to Christopher Walken, editing and sound). And nobody cares about the controversy. 

The fall: Heaven’s Gate 

Cimino is very much in demand, Universal and United Artists contend for him. United Artists offers him 7.5 million to make a film. Cimino dreams of transposing, once again, after King Vidor, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, but his project is too ambitious and the conversation is interrupted immediately. Cimino then recovers a project from 1972, The Country Johnson War, on a dramatic and forgotten episode in the history of the United States: a sort of civil war between rich owners and immigrants from Eastern Europe for the control of a territory destined for cattle breeding in Wyoming. An episode in stark contrast to the epic of the conquest of the West handed down by official American culture. From the seven and a half million budget allocated, it immediately goes to ten and the entire production becomes an ordeal, between delays and legends amplified by the isolation of the entire crew, confined for filming in the remote town of Kalispell, Montana. What originates is an obscene mythology which due to its almost daily setbacks will far exceed the value of the film itself6. After The Deer Hunter, Cimino wants to confirm the consideration that Hollywood has given him and his effort to create a masterpiece becomes a paranoid obsession in search of absolute perfection. This results in a serious delay with respect to the production plan and absurd demands, such as taking down the entire set of the city of Casper to reconstruct it with different proportions or transporting an original locomotive of the time from a museum in Colorado to film the only moment of the entrance to the station. The mythology on the pages of the newspapers becomes a scandal, the film risks not being finished: United Artists sends a team of executives to save the film, after thinking of stopping shooting. And the shooting finally ends, 4 months later. Cimino has 220 hours of footage which first becomes a montage of 5 hours and 25 minutes. Then, with a further effort, the film is ready for the duration of 3 hour and 39 minute version, but the preview is a resounding fiasco. Cimino tries to correct the film, shortening it by one hour and 10 minutes, but the situation definitely worsens. It’s a total fiasco: Heaven’s Gate only grossed $ 1.3 million, but it cost $ 44 million. It’s a stillborn movie. 

Heaven’s Gate

Yet Heaven’s Gate, going beyond prejudice, seen in the 3 hours and 39 minutes version that will begin to circulate at the beginning of the new millennium in festivals, reviews and tributes, is a film of blinding aesthetic beauty. Thanks also to the collaboration of Vilmos Zsigmond as director of photography, “the sense of immensity” that Eastwood had recognised in Thunderbolt & Lightfoot in Heaven’s Gate finds its exaltation, the landscape takes on artistic quality, the influences are not only cinematographic (David Lean, the most evident), but also pictorial because they exploit the great culture of the director and his ability to integrate influences from Albert Bierstadt, Jan Vermeer, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir into the images. Cimino’s problem is to be like his protagonist, James Averill, totally out of time: Heaven’s Gate is a sublime blockbuster that would have been appreciated forty years earlier. It is a western that comes at a time (the Eighties) in which the western no longer attracts the public and criticism of an America of wealth and power collides with the beginning of the Reagan era (Reagan becomes President of the United States almost simultaneously with the preview of the film). The accusation for Cimino at the release of the film will be that he transformed from fascist to Marxist, because most critics read Heaven’s Gate as an American version of the class struggle: in its dichotomous simplification, the wealthy ranchers, defended by the government and by the army, they represent evil, and are opposed to the good, represented by the colonists and their legitimate hope for a better future. 

Cimino went beyond The Deer Hunter, while remaining faithful to his author’s obsessions. The usual autonomous narrative blocks appear even more extreme and detached from any cause and effect relationship. Because what interests Cimino is not the consequentiality of the situations but the comparison, like the chapters released in time and space of a single great novel. The ellipses between one block and another are evident (twenty between the first and second, thirteen between the second and third) and what happened in the past can only be assumed without being certain. 

Once again, the centrality of the narrative is represented by the characters and their relationships. On the one hand, James (Kris Kristofferson), on the other, Nathan (Christopher Walken). James is haunted by the elusive flow of a time he never actually lived. Despite his incessant action, he is the symbol of powerlessness: he acts but his efforts never come to fruition. Nathan, on the other hand, while living in James’s shadow, is the one who takes the path of greater awareness throughout the entire story. As always in Cimino’s cinema, the individual characters complement each other and Nathan replaces James by replicating his presence and functions, especially with Ella (Isabelle Huppert). Ella, a young prostitute, is the enigmatic vertex of the triangle that sees her contended between the love for James and the stability of the marriage proposed by Nathan. With the presence of Ella, the relationship between the characters in Cimino’s cinema becomes even more complicated, because now the exchange takes place between three figures, understood as faces of the same ideal love seen in its various possibilities. 

Some of the most ferocious criticisms are aimed at the expansion of narrative times into moments considered superfluous in terms of the story. In particular, the long dance sequences that Cimino has scattered throughout the film are targeted, following the example of John Ford’s cinema. In fact, the spectacular waltz scenes and folk dance (written by Dave Mansfield) are totally functional on a symbolic level, because they replicate the obsessive presence of the circle, authentic stylistic and allegorical code of the whole film. The circle, in fact, is not only the form repeatedly evoked by the sets and the movement of the many characters within the space, but it is a figure that also influences the structure of the entire film and the articulation of the individual scenes, which begin and end up in the same way, with the same plan or repetition of the same situation, with the aim of showing a declared comparison between the initial and final situations. A complex and meticulous construction that is neither understood by critics nor by the public, causing Cimino a great deal of frustration. Furthermore, Hollywood blames him for the bankruptcy of United Artists and this accusation causes him to be banned from large productions. The failure was total and now Cimino, only two years after winning five Oscars, is seen as an unreliable director. 

The attempt to redeem himself: Year of the Dragon

It is not his talent that is questioned, but his megalomania. And Hollywood pretends to forgive but actually controls. The few offers that reach Cimino are second-rate, no one believes he is capable of real success. He doesn’t make Footloose (Herbert Ross will) because he intends to rewrite the script within days of shooting; he will not make The Pope of Greenwich Village (Stuart Rosenberg will) despite having started work on the script; he won’t shoot the story he has in mind about Michael Collins (Neil Jordan will do it in 1996). A 220-page project with Raymond Carver on Dostoevsky’s life will be wrecked by his redundancy. Only Dino De Laurentiis, fresh from Dune’s flop, gives him confidence to write again, providing him with guidelines to follow a novel (by Robert Daley)7  and a prominent personality to collaborate on the screenplay, Oliver Stone. Five years have passed since Heaven’s Gate

Year of the Dragon proves to be an anomalous thriller in which there is no canonical construction of tension but sudden explosions of violence and action scenes that aim to generate chaos plastically. It is the first time, after three films, that Cimino has shot in the studio. His Chinatown is carefully reconstructed in the studios but appears, in fact, hyper-realistic, because it is set up in an even more colourful and noisier way than the original New York quarter. Again, as in The Deer Hunter, he organizes his universe into layers, from the slums, where the goriest crimes take place, to the attics, like the one between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, where investigators isolate themselves to conduct their investigations. Although no longer free, Cimino still tries to make a personal film, which includes the reference themes of his poetics. The global significance of the film reflects, once again, on the American identity and its lost innocence. We observe the time that is inexorably fleeing, while the main characters, despite being on opposite sides of the law, complement each other, renewing the politics of exchange so dear to him. The discourse on American identity this time illustrates the crisis of a melting pot in which the concept of tradition masks a whole series of activities, both lawful and illegal. The ghost of a lack of elaboration towards the other-than-self hovers throughout the film. The self is a distorted Americanism that looks at the other, the Oriental, with the frustrated hatred of who has cradled hopes that ended tragically, especially in relation to Vietnam (and in this perspective, the protagonist, Stanley White, played by Mickey Rourke, at the centre of a Cimino film after a small part in Heaven’s Gate, is a worthy relative of the Michael of The Deer Hunter). 

Year of the Dragon

Year of the Dragon is also, indirectly, a reflection on time, as always in Cimino’s cinema. A time that originates from history and that in the film is divided according to two complementary lines: time on the run, which in Heaven’s Gate had found its maximum expression, and time as regret and instinct for conservation. The two conceptions are dialectically connected to each other and together generate the existential failure of the characters. The one, Stanley, a noir detective screened in New York in the Eighties, because it is now out of history; the other, Joey (John Lone) for having accelerated the times of the millennial Chinese tradition too much. Furthermore, the two protagonists, opposed in conduct, aspirations and attitudes, each seem to exist in function of the other: their relationship is absolutely complementary. If the dark suit of one and the white of the other fit into elementary notations, the proxemics of the bodies, the exchange of position within the scenes, the remote repetition of the same acts or the identity of the same shots (for example in the final clash between the two) are Cimino’s way of emphasizing this aspect. At the release of the film, the critics are discordant, some praise him, others crush him again. Certainly, Year of the Dragon is not the success that Cimino hoped would relaunch his career: the film collects only 18 of the 24 million dollars spent. It is an interlocutory moment that will soon begin its definitive descending parable. 

The descent: The Sicilian and Desperate Hours 

The Sicilian and Desperate Hours confirm the unstoppable descent of Cimino’s career. The first, based on a novel by Mario Puzo, the author of The Godfather, is yet another moment of frustration for the director. Cimino goes beyond the romantic representation, turning the bandit Salvatore Giuliano into a messianic figure. Giuliano was active in Sicily between the end of the Second World War and 1950 and responsible for the Portella della Ginestra massacre, in which eleven peasants died during a political demonstration. This attracts the umpteenth criticism of his career, despite the film boasting the collaboration on the screenplay by Gore Vidal (however uncredited) and having appreciable lyrical moments, such as the expressive use of depth of field to create a marked otherness compared to the city, showing a Sicily totally different from the harsh and arid landscape portrayed by Francesco Rosi in Salvatore Giuliano (1962). The Sicilian is released in many countries in a shortened version of 31 minutes, a different story even in the structure, which the author disowns. 

It doesn’t get any better three years later with Desperate Hours, a remake of Wyler’s 1955 movie, also based on Joseph Hayes’s 1954 play. Cimino’s freedom is now a distant memory, now he has turned into a performer of other people’s scripts or even remakes. The aim is to stay afloat waiting for a better future. However, the director strives to pursue a personal path, as far as possible. Creating the usual convergence between superimposable characters, even if they are opposites (here the criminal, Mickey Rourke, and the head of the family, Anthony Hopkins) and shooting in the large interiors of the house where the story takes place, consciously moving the camera to create symbolic effects and a precise dialectic with the external. Precisely in function of the exteriors, Cimino turns it into a western by subtraction: “if we eliminate the helicopters, cars and motorbikes, and replace them with horses, the film becomes a western”8. But the attempt is daring and too constrained by a script that offers little room for work. And the film becomes yet another failure; criticism cuts him off or, worse, ignores him. Cimino’s career has come to a standstill. 

The Sunchaser

The illusion: Sunchaser 

Six years later, when even hopes have faded, Cimino receives an offer from Regency producer Arnon Milchan and total control of a project, despite the script already being written (by newcomer Charles Leavitt). Cimino distorts the screenplay and makes it a product consistent with his entire cinematographic past. The story of a wealthy oncologist (Woody Harrelson) and a terminally ill young criminal reunited on a journey of hope to a sacred mountain according to Indian tradition is treated by Cimino according to the parameters that are dear to him. Like a huge circle, a cherished symbol since the days of Heaven’s Gate, Cimino’s career, after a lap of twenty-two years, turns to where it started, with Thunderbolt & Lightfoot. Still a couple on the road, but this time the relationship that is formed, despite the enormous initial disparities, is one of brotherhood. Cimino progressively erodes the insensitive cultural system of Dr. Reynolds in favour of the spirituality of the young native criminal: it is the umpteenth overlap between two characters in his cinema, but it is also the latest ferocious accusation directed at him, this time of having become a new age prophet. 

The journey of the two protagonists shows a path that changes from material to intimate, moral and psychological. Even spiritual, given the final landing place. Cimino portrays this progression by working on the vastness of the landscape, mindful of the investiture he received from Clint Eastwood more than twenty years earlier, a quality that very few would have recognized later despite having refined it. Compatibly with the layers that have always characterized the structures of his cinema, Cimino constructs Sunchaser as a journey that from the hell of the slums of Los Angeles rises up to the four thousand meters of the Navajo reservation of Arizona where there are the sacred mountain and the magical lake the two characters must reach. As if it were an ideal curtain, as it approaches the peaks, Cimino and cinematographer Doug Milsome widen the shots, invading the screen of a landscape that with its splendid gigantism alludes to the new mental openness of Dr. Reynolds. 

French critics praise the film on the occasion of its presentation in competition at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival; Sunchaser is on the list of nominees for the final win (which will instead go to Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies).However, the film is another and his latest failure: it grosses only $ 30,000, compared to the budget of 31 million. Arithmetically, it’s even worse than Heaven’s Gate. But it doesn’t matter. Cimino will no longer make films, with the exception of a short film with pathetic and grotesque tones No Translation Needed (2007), included in the project for the sixty years of the Cannes Film Festival, Chacun son cinéma

He’ll die on July 2, 2016. After having forgotten him, the press will suddenly remember him, celebrating that sketch of a career that never gave what he really could have given. In reality, Cimino had already died artistically in 1996, twenty years earlier, except that no one was interested. The feeling, even today, is that of a modern Icarus, victim, at his best moment, of a disastrous fall in the ambitious attempt to touch the aesthetic peaks of the sublime.


  • Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, 1974
  • The Deer Hunter, 1978
  • Heaven’s Gate, 1980
  • The Year of the Dragon, 1985
  • The Sicilian, 1987
  • Desperate Hour, 1990
  • Sunchaser, 1996
  • No Translation Needed, 2007; segment of Chacun son cinema

Selected Bibliography

  • Michael Bliss, Martin Scorsese and Michael Cimino (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1985)
  • Manuel Cintra Ferreira (edited), Michael Cimino: O último dos mavericks (Lisboa: Cinemateca Portuguesa/Museu do Cinema, 2005) 
  • Giampiero Frasca, Il cinema di Michael Cimino (Roma: Gremese, 2020)
  • Jean-Baptiste Thoret, Michael Cimino. Les voix perdues de l’Amérique, (Paris: Flammarion, 2013)
  • Bill Krohn, “Interview with Michael Cimino”, Cahiers du cinéma special Made in Usa, Issue 334/335 (June 1982)


  1. See interview by Marc Chevrie, Jean Narboni and Vincent Ostria, Cahiers du cinema, Issue 377 (November 1985)
  2. As he confided to me with some annoyance during a conversation: Giampiero Frasca, Interview with Michael Cimino (Turin, 20 February 2003): p. 12
  3. Robin Wood, Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), pp. 276-77
  4. See Leslie Fiedler, James Fenimore Cooper: The Problem of the Good Bad Writer, 2nd Cooper Seminar, James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art at the State University of New York College at Oneonta, July 1979; and Gilbert Adair, Hollywood’s Vietnam: From The Green Berets to Apocalypse Now, Proteus, New York, London 1981, p. 135
  5. Michael Cimino, Conversations en miroir, Paris: Gallimard, 2004), pp. 52-3
  6. For a detailed account of the production events, cf. Steven Bach, Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1985)
  7. Robert Daley, Year of the Dragon (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981)
  8. Thierry Jousse and Iannis Katsahnias, “Je n’irai jamais à Monument Valley”, Cahiers du cinema, Issue 439 (January 1991): p. 34

About The Author

Giampiero Frasca is an Italian film critic and writer. He has written several books, including The Cinema of Michael Cimino and I cancelli del cielo. He has a blog, (dis)Sequenze.

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