Is the redemption of Michael Cimino complete? By now, most folks know the story by heart. After directing the acclaimed, Oscar winning (including Best Director and Best Picture) “The Deer Hunter,” the helmer set forth to tackle “Heaven’s Gate“…and barely made it out intact. Running wildly overbudget and behind schedule, with the troubled production becoming the stuff of legend, the movie more or less became the example held up for directorial hubris and excess. It also pretty much bankrupted United Artists. But last month, a newly restored, director’s cut version of the film screened at the Venice Film Festival where Cimino received the Persol award, and The Criterion Collection will give the film its due when it releases it in a special edition on DVD and BluRay in November. But does Cimino have one more treat up his sleeve?
The reclusive director recently chatted with the New York Times, and the paper revealed that “he does have a film project in mind, which he hopes to shoot in digital soon.” Of course, there are no other details, and who knows if it’ll come to fruition, but it is some exciting news considering we haven’t heard of him being attached to anything in years. According to Wikipedia, the last movie he flirted with was “Man’s Fate,” about the Chinese revolution, which he was scouting locations for in 2001, but it obviously never came to pass. And while Cimino did direct a handful of mostly forgettable, regrettable pictures since “Heaven’s Gate,” he admits his own status as a pariah took up much of his time.
“I’ve had enough rejection for 33 years,” he told press in Venice. “I don’t need more. Being infamous is not fun. It becomes a weird kind of occupation in and of itself.” But it seems sitting down and making minor tweaks for the upcoming Criterion release (which he notes eliminates “a horrific red mist over everything” in the current MGM DVD) has allowed him to put the past behind him. “…those 30 years had a way of vanishing,” he notes.
So we shall if Cimino takes another crack at filmmaking…if only so “The Sunchaser” isn’t his final movie. “Heaven’s Gate” arrives on home video on November 20th.