Revolution was Britain’s Heaven’s Gate
Self-indulgence, bad weather, huge crowds of extras, a £250,000 crane which fell over a cliff – Revolution was dubbed Britain’s Heaven’s Gate after becoming a 1985 box-office flop, writes SUE BURGE.
The US release date was Christmas Day 1985 – it cost 28 million dollars, while gross sales were $346,761. In comparison director Hugh Hudson’s earlier Chariots of Fire in 1981 had cost $5.5m and took nearly $59m gross.
Hudson claimed the release had been rushed to provide a surge of income to producers Goldcrest – the film was cut by 15 minutes.
Star Al Pacino was so disappointed with the reception it got that he didn’t make another film until Sea of Love in 1989.
Preparations for the lavish set had begun in February 1985.
King’s Lynn is 1770’s New York was the verdict of Geoff Freeman, Goldcrest publicist, who added: “King’s Lynn was by far the best.”
They had searched for six months in the US for a suitable location to no avail.
The production involved 60 set builders, 30 miles of scaffolding, and 15 tons of sand and cement were made into cobblestones for King Street; while Bishop’s Lynn House became the costume department and residents were paid up to £1,000 for filming their homes.
Extras were paid £25 a day with £5 if you got wet and £5 if you worked at night.
Local traders – especially building suppliers – did really well, and also taxi firms. Boatbuilders repaired the flotilla and old boats, such as the 1912 fishing smack Freda and Norah built by the Worfolks, were used.
Providence, the 18th century ship, was refurbished and it brings Pacino into the Purfleet in the film. The set became a tourist attraction.
Filming also took place in South Devon, Dartmoor, Ely (which doubled as Philadelphia), the North Norfolk coast and West Tofts.
The movie was nominated for four Razzies, which celebrate the worst of Hollywood film-making.
One critic said: “Like visiting a museum – it looks good without really being alive.”