Michael Cimino, an appreciation: From Oscar triumph to Hollywood exile

July 3, 2016 10:14 PM

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Even in a town as fickle and faddish as Hollywood, the movie industry has never turned on one of its own as quickly and decisively as it once turned on Michael Cimino. In the span of two short years, the Oscar-winning director of The Deer Hunter, who died Saturday at age 77, went from boundless superstar to bruised and buried scapegoat — a tragic turnaround from which his career behind the camera would never quite recover. Some would say that Cimino only had himself to blame, that it was his ego that doomed his career so shortly after it took flight. But the sad truth is that it may only be now, with his passing, that we’re finally able to appreciate and fully reckon with all of the films he never got to make and that we never got to see.

Cimino came of age as a filmmaker in the 1970s, a decade when bold, rule-breaking, movie-drunk visionaries like Robert Altman, Francis Coppola, Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas were given unprecedented license to make the types of films they wanted to make, the way...

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