Sunday, 3 July 2016

RIP Michael Cimino

It's not been the greatest starts to July has it? News of yet another tragic death now, as director Michael Cimino's body was found yesterday at his LA home after friends alerted the police to the concerns they had for 77 years old not contacting them. No cause of death has been given as yet.

The director may have only helmed eight films in his career, but what a career it was.

His first film was 1974's Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, a buddy buddy vehicle for Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges that marked him out as a unique talent, but it was the 1978 film The Deer Hunter, starring Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, that cemented this reputation. The Vietnam drama is considered a landmark of '70s Hollywood, bagging five Oscars including the award for Best Film in 1979. 

His follow up however, Heaven's Gate, tells a different tale; a financial disaster that went four times over budget and a year behind schedule, this account of the 1889-'93 Wyoming Johnson County War starring Kris Kristofferson and Christopher Walken almost bankrupted United Artists, brought to an end the notion of director-driver, free rein filmmaking, and was critically and commercially lambasted upon its release. Opinions are still decidedly mixed regarding this film, but many - including myself - hail it as something of a masterpiece.

He would later go to direct Year of the Dragon (1985) The Sicilian (1987) and a remake of the 1955 Humphrey Bogart noir The Desperate Hours in 1990 with Mickey Rourke and Antony Hopkins. His last film was 1996's Sunchaser starring Woody Harrelson and future Chicago PD star Jon Seda.


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