Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision
FFC rating: 7/10
by Charles Elton
by Bill Chambers Six years after his death, Michael Cimino remains an enigma, shrouded by a swirling mass of rumours and contradictions. A biographer has their work cut out for them. Before reading Charles Elton's Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision, I took stock of everything I knew about the mercurial filmmaker: that he helmed seven movies during a span of 22 years, the second of which he was fêted for (The Deer Hunter), the third of which he went to director jail for (Heaven's Gate); and that he gradually began to look different in ways for which time alone cannot account. I also had some preconceived notions about Cimino--that he was vain, an egotist, one who burned a lot of bridges--that are more or less borne out by Elton's overview, but it's important to note that Cimino was not around to defend himself when the author went rummaging through his past. (I feel fairly confident in saying, again from the picture Elton paints, that he probably would've spent more energy trying to halt the book's publication altogether.) Though Cimino is not one of the great posthumous bios on the order of David Weddle's If They Move...Kill 'Em! or Lee Server's Baby, I Don't Care, it does have unique virtues (which I'll get to) and is reasonably good at preserving Cimino's dignity while countering or outright demolishing his own unreliable narrative.