Michael Cimino, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind the 1978 classic The Deer Hunter, has passed away aged 77, with Thierry Fremaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, tweeting that he “died peacefully, surrounded by his family and the two women who loved him.”
Part of the ‘New Hollywood’ wave of filmmakers in the 1970s, Cimino began his feature film career co-writing the sci-fi Silent Runner and the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force. He made his feature directorial debut with 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, which he also scripted, before directing and producing the Vietnam war epic The Deer Hunter. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture.
Following the success of The Deer Hunter, Cimino went on to make the western Heaven’s Gate, a huge critical and commercial failure which almost bankrupted United Artists and left the filmmaker’s reputation in tatters. He would go on to direct just four more features: Year of the Dragon (1985), The Sicilian (1987), Desperate Hours (1990) and The Sunchaser (1996).