Heaven’s Gate (1980)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Michael Cimino By Roderick Heath Hollywood has never been kind to failure, but sometimes time is. The real “Johnson County War” was a skirmish between cattle graziers and settlers in 1890s Wyoming, and had long been a cornerstone of western folklore. In the early 1970s, this true story was suggested as the subject for …

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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Sergio Leone By Roderick Heath For Sergio Leone, making Once Upon a Time in America was a 15-year labour that consumed the bulk of his directorial career. By the mid-1970s, Leone seemed to be washed up. The genre he had done so much to codify and popularise, the spaghetti western, had burnt out. Leone’s …

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A Chinese Ghost Story (Sien Nui Yau Wan, 1987) / A Chinese Ghost Story II (Yan Gaan Do, 1990)

The Days of High Adventure: A Journey through Adventure Film Director: Tony Siu-Tung Ching By Roderick Heath Deep within the tangled growth of a dark forest lies an ancient ruin, a place where lost or weary travellers might find a place to rest for the night. But in the glow of moonlight, a mysterious and …

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Farewell to the King (1989)

The Days of High Adventure: A Journey through Adventure Film Director/Screenwriter: John Milius By Roderick Heath John Milius, New Wave Hollywood’s wilfully wild, pseudo-shamanic antihero, was an anachronistic figure even as a crucial member of the vanguard of young filmmakers who helped reinvent commercial Hollywood cinema in the 1970s. A collaborator with Francis Coppola and …

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Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

The Days of High Adventure: A Journey through Adventure Film Director: Richard Marquand By Roderick Heath George Lucas’ Star Wars : Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) is, for better or worse, one of the defining films of the modern era. Splendiferously entertaining, it’s also a stylistically powerful film, one that rarely gets praise …

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

The Days of High Adventure: A Journey Through Adventure Film Director: Nicholas Meyer By Roderick Heath It might seem like a leap from the earthbound historicism of The Sea Hawk to the second instalment of a 1980s TV-derived scifi franchise, and yet they’re both, essentially, pirate movies. Lately, pondering the synergy of elements necessary to …

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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The Days of High Adventure: A Journey through Adventure Film Director: Steven Spielberg By Roderick Heath A famed film studio’s logo dissolves into a real mountain, glowering like a primeval sentinel over the depths of Amazonian jungle. A team of searchers penetrates the unknown. A man with a shadowed face, hearing a gun cocked behind …

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