The Dim-Post

July 4, 2016

Still shooting the cockfight

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 2:03 pm

Michael Cimino is dead. There’s this famous story – I think from Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls – about Heaven’s Gate. They’re shooting a scene in which Kris Kristofferson walks into a bar. There’s men drinking. A cockfight in the corner (actual roosters died during filming!). Various hard-nosed immigrants are arguing and we listen in on their disputes. Kristofferson walks over to a table at the far end and has a long conversation with Isabella Huppert.

One of the producers went away for three weeks just as shooting started on the scene, and when they got back he was horrified to see that Cimino was ‘still shooting the cock fight’, and the entire rest of the scene was unshot. I love that phrase and use it as mental shorthand all the time, when something I assumed was working well is actually, catastrophically behind schedule but I can’t go around using it in conversation in,say, a professional context because the phrase is problematic on a number of levels. I wish we lived in a world where everyone knew about Heaven’s Gate, and shooting the cock fight.


  1. cue the write-ups on what an egregiously underrated classic “Heaven’s Gate” is, from the same people who called it an humongously epic fail.

    Comment by petronious — July 4, 2016 @ 2:14 pm

  2. My favourite bit about Heaven’s Gate is how Cimino wanted the main street of the town set to be two yards wider. He insisted on buildings on both sides of the street being moved one yard, not one side being moved two yards.

    Comment by Gareth Wilson — July 4, 2016 @ 2:29 pm

  3. I still can’t reconcile the guy who made Heaven’s Gate also made the greatest war movie ever.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 4, 2016 @ 2:30 pm

  4. I’ve never actually watched all of Deer Hunter. They kept showing it late at night on NZ TV when I was a teenager, and I’d start to watch it, and sit through the wedding and hunting trip, but fall asleep before they got to Vietnam, which only happens about two hours into the movie.

    Comment by danylmc — July 4, 2016 @ 4:15 pm

  5. Heavens Gate and the Deer Hunter fall into that category of movies that you have to say you enjoy in order to show you are Serious about movies and know your auteurs. But after a while you work out that nobody has actually watched them at all and that everyone is just bluffing.

    Comment by Nick R — July 4, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

  6. ” I wish we lived in a world where everyone knew about Heaven’s Gate, and shooting the cock fight.”

    Oh dear

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — July 4, 2016 @ 6:02 pm

  7. The Deer Hunter? Seriously? A appallingly racist depiction of theVietnamese that allows America to recast itself as a victim in a lost war of imperialist aggression is a great movie? I guess it is a great movie if you want to know about American culture in the mid 1970s. Sure, it is beautiful movie. But so is “Triumph of the Will”.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 4, 2016 @ 8:14 pm

  8. Appalling is right Sanc.

    Comment by Joe W — July 4, 2016 @ 9:43 pm

  9. testing…

    Comment by Gregor W — July 4, 2016 @ 10:03 pm

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