Compared are the censored Director's Cut on the UK Blu-ray by Second Sight and the uncensored Director's Cut on the German Blu-ray (identically equal to the US Criterion Blu-ray with a "never before available cut" from 2012)
- 7 documented alterations
- Lengt difference: 47.2 sec
Michael Ciminos legendary Western flop Heaven's Gate cost more than twice as much as the originally estimated $20 million and critics hated it. After an alleged workprint with a length of 325 minutes, the original Theatrical Version in 1980 had a length of 219 minutes (210 minutes in PAL). It did not take long and Cimino cut another cut - on the insistence of the studio. In 1981, this version was released theatrically in the US. Worldwide, the so-called "Director's Cut" (219 minutes) has always been the more established version though. Back in the day, this version was released on VHS and Laserdisc and also on the German and the US DVD while the "Recut Theatrical Version" (149 minutes) was released on DVD in e.g. France or the Netherlands.
As the comparison between the Blu-ray Version and the older DVD Version shows, the altered and by Cimino approved HD Version is a little shorter. And before we get to the numerous alterations of the "Recut Theatrical Version", there will be a comparison with the UK Blu-ray.
For video releases in the 80s, the BBFC lists cuts with a total length of 1:14 min, a DVD has never been released in the UK. For the Blu-ray release in 2013, there are cuts with a total length of 0:59 min. The cockfight and scenes that show horses fall were the problem because the BBFC still has their issues with animal cruelty, even nowadays. The actual length difference is a little lower though but that is probably the result of numerous recuts in the mentioned scenes because the order of the remaining and rather harmless scenes has been changed in some quite creative way.
All in all, a version that can be considered acceptable - it probably would have been for the best if there was no animal cruelty in the movie in the first place. Which also makes the UK Blu-ray a little more interessting: The documentary Final Cut is part of the bonus features - slightly cut but still... Both the Criterion release and the German Blu-ray release lack that documentary due to right issues. Ironically, there is an uncensored TV rip available on YouTube.
Time index refers to
censored UK Blu-ray / uncensored German Blu-ray
Please note: The UK Blu-ray runs with 23.976 frames per second while the German Blu-ray runs with 24 frames per seconds which also explain the slightly smaller length difference.
59:02-59:14 / 58:59-59:40
Subsequent to the exterior shot, there is a missing close-up of the cocks attacking each other - followed by several further of those shots & some reaction shots are missing as well.
As compensation, the UK Blu-ray here contains a profile shot which is actually a few seconds later in the movie. In addition to that, the UK Blu-ray only contains the reaction shots - in a different order for some reason. For that reason, the decision against digging deeper into that has been made. Here is the course of events in the UK Version:
Original Version 28.8 sec longer
59:16 / 59:42-59:44
A close-up is missing here.
59:33 / 60:11-60:12
Now a reaction shot.
59:49-59:50 / 60:18-60:24
John also says "Get ready!" (which had probably to be removed for continuity reasons because the subsequent shot is quiet similar), then the fight from a further distance.
The UK Blu-ray contains the reaction shot from the previous alteration one more time (no screenshots).
Original Version 5.1 sec longer
63:22 / 63:56-64:02
The angry man makes more steps forward & the fighting cocks.
129:04-129:09 / 129:40-129:47
The harmless part of the shot of the horseman at the end (3.5 sec) is missing here only to interrupt the actual critical shot subsequently afterwards. Because after the shot of the other horseman (almost 1 sec), the UK Blu-ray lacks the actual hit and as a consequence thereof also the falling horse. Also, there is a further shot of him and the horse from a closer distance.
After the shot of the other horseman for almost 1 sec, only 2.5 sec of the shot of the harmless part of the horseman are in the UK Version at this point because there is actually a profile shot with the horse between the two close-ups of the man falling. The remaining part of the shot works as some kind of link in the UK Version.
Original Version 2.2 sec longer
Screenshots only for the footage censored in the UK:
And for better understanding, now the previously excluded footage of the shooting horseman and also of his falling victim without horse in the background from the UK Blu-ray:
183:42 / 184:17-184:19
Additional shot of a falling horse. The first few frames of the subsequent shot of the horseman are missing as well (most likely because the horse's legs are visible in those frames).