For Michael Cimino, Hollywood provided the best of times and the worst of times. His film THE DEER HUNTER (1978) is a masterpiece. It is considered to be one of the 50 greatest films ever made. He received the Oscar as Best Director and the film won four other Oscars including for Best Picture of the Year. THE DEER HUNTER — for three hours, tells the haunting story of the Vietnam War’s impact on a small steel-working town in Pennsylvania.
Paris Barclay, president of the Directors Guild of America, told the Associated Press, “In his most iconic filmmaking, Michael captured the horrors of war through a personalized lens — captivating a nation in the process.”
Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken were all Oscar nominated and Walken won for Best Supporting Actor.
Two years later, HEAVEN’S GATE, a western starring Kris Krisofferson, and Christopher was released. It was a box office bomb and labeled one of the worst movies ever made. Not only did this failure destroy the promising career of Cimino, it changed Hollywood forever. Up until that time, most films were director driven. Cimino was blamed for an over budget and out of control production; and for the collapse of the United Artists film company. The end result, even up to and including today — is all films are under the strict control of the studios.
Michael Cimino was found dead on July 2, 2016, at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 77. He has no survivors.