The Oscar-winning writer-director was widely acclaimed for The Deer Hunter but fell from grace with Heaven’s Gate.
Michael Cimino, the Oscar-winning Hollywood writer-director best known for The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate, has died at age 77.
Press reports said that Cimino’s body was found at his Los Angeles home on Saturday (July 2), with the cause of death yet to be determined.
Cimino started his career in television commercials and as a screenwriter, with credits including 1972 sci-fi tale Silent Running and 1973 Clint Eastwood crime thriller Magnum Force. He made his directing debut on 1974 Eastwood comedy drama Thuderbolt and Lightfoot, which he also wrote.
He rose to prominence as director of 1978 Vietnam war story The Deer Hunter, on which he also got a story credit. The film won five Oscars, including best picture and best director for Cimino himself.
Two years later, however, Cimino’s reputation took a hit when Heaven’s Gate, which he wrote and directed, ran over schedule and over budget (as chronicled in the 1985 book Final Cut). Though it was selected for the competition at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, the epic western turned out to be a critical and commercial flop.
During the eighties and nineties Cimino made only a handful of films, among them Year of the Dragon and Desperate Hours. His most recent credit was as director of a segment of 2007 portmanteau film To Each His Own Cinema (Chacun son cinema).
In 2012, Cimino won the Venice film festival’s Persol Award.