Several years ago a guy suggested that a miniseries based on Steven Bach‘s “Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate” could be great. A sprawling, dialogue-driven, slow-motion calamity flick, set mostly in Hollywood and New York with occasional detours to the shooting set with fascinating, whip-smart dialogue and one of the most unusual villains of all time — director Michael Cimino.

The instant I heard this my brain spun around, clicked its heels and said “yes!” I’m still high on the idea. A sprawling six-episode Max or Netflix or Amazon series, I’m thinking.

I’m aware of what a complete friggin’ nightmare it can be to produce films about the making of this or that classic film/play/anything if any of the principals are alive. I don’t know if getting the rights to Bach’s book (which of course was legally cleared when it was published 30 years ago) would lessen difficulties or not, but I’m dead certain that the entire world would stop whatever it’s doing to watch a miniseries about this catastrophic Hollywood saga. I got so high on the idea that I ordered a paperback version of Bach’s book — I haven’t read it in over three decades.

If you haven’t seen Michael Epstein‘s Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven’s Gate (’04), here it is. Well ordered, smart as a whip, 78 minutes, narrated by Willem Dafoe.

Epstein doc comment: “Final Cut is a great documentary on the subject and my affection for the film is greater after seeing it. Cimino isn’t in the film except for archival footage, but a lot of the other principals are present. You really feel sorry for the studio, the movie, and even Cimino after seeing it.

“Nonetheless there’s little doubt that Cimino had a great deal to do with the negative image Heaven’s Gate had for years. His arrogance and excess sunk the movie, but there’s more to the story here.

“The doc is inevitably somewhat weighted in favor of the studio, United Artists. So we’re told tales of how beleaguered the studio was, how the executives were weak or weakened, concerned only with numbers. I mean, that’s not false I guess, but there’s definitely room for the defence. Step forward then Kris Kristofferson, whose voice is almost singularly in favor of Cimino’s artistic ambition. His belief that Heaven’s Gate was used by the powers that be to put an end to the direction in which Hollywood was then operating in, is a suspicion that I share too. ‘The uncreative people won’, he concludes. God bless that twinkly old darling.”

Here’s my “Don’t Buy The Bullshit” piece about the 2012 Heaven’s Gate tribute at the Venice Film Festival.

Heaven’s Gate has always been and absolutely always will be a stunningly bad film, very handsomely composed, yes, but flaccid and showoffy but absolutely seething with directorial wanking and certainly without any narrative or thematic substance, at least as I define these.

And yet Cimino kept his hand in after Heaven’s Gate and made four subsequent films — Year of the Dragon (’85), The Sicilian (’87), The Desperate Hours (’90) and Sunchaser (’96).

For those who haven’t read Steven Bach‘s “Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate” (which was later retitled as “Final Cut: Art, Money and Ego in the Making of Heaven’s Gate“) or seen Michael Epstein‘s 2004 doc based on the book, please take the time.

I hated Heaven’s Gate when I first saw it nearly 32 years ago, and I couldn’t stay with it when I tried it a second time at home about nine years ago. Should I try it a third time when Criterion puts out their Bluray version?

I attended the second critics screening at the Cinema I on November 17th or 18th of 1980, and stood at the bottom of the down escalator as those who’d seen the afternoon show were leaving. I asked everyone I knew what they thought on a scale of 1 to 10. I’ll never forget the deflated, zombie-like expression on the face of journalist Dan Yakir as he muttered “zero.”