On Wednesday I posted two of Michael Cimino’s mid-1960s commercials which I’d sought out while reading Charles Elton’s fine new biography of Cimino. But it occurred to me that I’d never (except for his ‘Deer Hunter’ Oscar acceptance speech) heard him interviewed. And then I turned up the above, shot in 2007. (For some reason the YouTube poster who put this up doesn’t want people to spread it around on their websites, so click on the YouTube link he/she provides to watch). It is a thirty-eight minute sit-down with Cimino and it’s a deeply impressive and riveting performance from a man who really nobody seems to have known save for his producer/friend/partner/confidante Joanne Carelli (she sits off camera during the interview and he asks her at one point if she ever heard him say ‘The hell with everyone, I’m going to do it my way.’ The answer apparently is no, though Cimino smiles after hearing this).
Part of the notoriety of Cimino’s life, aside from ‘Heavens Gate’, was the confusion surrounding rumors of his gender reassignment. Did she or didn’t he? This was shot when he was clearly transitioning and the juxtaposition of appearance and voice is quite striking–he has a very Long Island delivery and a deliberate and articulate way of phrasing and explaining what he thinks. Elton’s bio addresses this stage of Cimino’s life in a poignant and entirely unexploitive manner. Given how harsh the press always was toward him (a nasty 2002 Vanity Fair piece that ‘outed’ Cimino’s trans-journey was tastelessly titled ‘Michael Cimino’s Final Cut’), Elton’s attitude and research about this aspect of Cimino’s life is refreshing. Even though this interview was posted only a few months ago, I’m surprised it hasn’t attracted more than the 500 plus views that it’s gotten. Even if you don’t have time to watch the entire thirty-eight minutes, take a dip into it. The final five minutes are a lot of fun as Cimino impishly dares the interviewer to keep the interview going past the time limit he’s been allotted so that a violent scene might ensue between the interviewer and the other crew who are being made to wait.