Al Pacino faces off with Robert De Niro in Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’ (Warner Bros.)
Few modern crime films are as great — or have had as deep an impact on other filmmakers — as Heat, Michael Mann’s 1995 saga that gave us the first feature-film pairing of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. It’s a gorgeous, epic tale of two kindred spirits on opposite sides of the law, and its evocative widescreen visuals are meant to be seen on the big screen — which is where it again premiered, in a newly restored 4K digital presentation, last night at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles. To celebrate the event, the film’s principals all reunited for a post-screening Q&A moderated by director — and avowed Heat fan — Christopher Nolan.
The get-together comes a year after Heat celebrated its 20th anniversary. As reported by Variety, moderator Nolan acknowledged his debt to Mann’s masterwork: “I’ve drawn inspiration from it in my own work.” The big reveal of the night came from Pacino, who finally confessed on the record that his detective Vincent Hanna — an intense cop on the trail of De Niro’s ace thief Neil McCauley — is, throughout the film, high on cocaine. As the actor stated, “I don’t think I’ve ever said it out loud. But I’ve always wanted to say it, just so you know where some of the behavior comes from.”
Pacino and De Niro were initially joined on stage by Mann, and then later by many of the film’s other key cast and crew, including actors Amy Brenneman, Val Kilmer, Diane Venora, and Mykelti Williamson, producers Pieter Jan Brugge and Art Linson, cinematographer Dante Spinotti, film editor William Goldenberg, and sound re-recording mixer Andy Nelson. For Kilmer, who prepped for his role as McCauley cohort Chris Shiherlis while shooting 1995’s Batman Forever, it was a memorable experience that he still cherishes, as he told the crowd that “The most fun I had doing ‘Batman’ was preparing for ‘Heat’.”
Given its spiffy new digital restoration, here’s hoping a scheduled new home-video release of Heat makes it to our personal screens early next year. Click to read Variety‘s entire rundown of last night’s reunion screening.
Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’: Watch Al Pacino Narrate Three Classic Scenes: