Heat (1995)

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German title Heat
Original title Heat
Heat (1995) logo.png
Country of production United States
original language English , Spanish
Publishing year 1995
length 171 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
JMK 14
Director Michael Mann
script Michael Mann
production Art Linson
Michael Mann
music Elliot Goldenthal
camera Dante Spinotti
cut Pasquale Buba
William Goldenberg
Dov Hoenig
Tom Rolf

Heat is an American crime film from 1995 . Michael Mann is the scriptwriter , director and co-producer . Al Pacino and Robert De Niro play the leading roles and can be seen for the first time in a common scene on the screen.

Heat is an expanded remake of the LA pilot, Showdown, and like this one, was inspired by real life. It is about the hunt of a police investigator after a professional criminal and his gang, who come into the focus of the police investigation after an unplanned robbery but still commit the next robbery. He also tells of the private, family relationships of the protagonists and shows in the course of the plot that the hunter and the hunted are connected in their fates. The title Heat can be explained with the warning, formulated as a phrase in the film, that the ground under the feet of the hunted could get too hot.

In Germany , Austria and Switzerland , Heat was released in theaters in the first quarter of 1996. While the reactions of the critics in his country of origin, the USA, were mixed, the response in Germany was largely positive. Although the film did not win a prestigious award, it is considered a classic and Michael Mann's masterpiece . He also served criminals around the world as a role model and inspiration.


Al Pacino , cast member of Vincent Hanna
Robert De Niro , cast member for Neil McCauley

In Los Angeles , Neil McCauley is the leader of a gang of predominantly convicted gangsters Chris Shiherlis, Michael "Slick" Cheritto and Trejo. Together with the additionally engaged Waingro, they rob a money transporter from which McCauley purposefully only steals the bearer bonds of the investment company Malibu Invest . During the robbery, the uncontrolled Waingro unexpectedly kills a security guard and the group is forced to shoot two more security guards in order not to leave any murder witnesses. When McCauley Waingro wants to kill after the robbery, he escapes through a parking lot.

Lieutenant Vincent Hanna of the robbery and homicide division of the Los Angeles Police Department  - who has little time for his third wife Justine and their daughter Lauren - is entrusted with the demanding investigation of the triple robbery. During the elaborate investigation, he came across "Slick" by chance through an informant. During the subsequent observation, the officers also become aware of McCauley himself.

The backer and stealer Nate agreed on behalf of McCauley to buy back the bonds with Roger Van Zant, the head of Malibu Invest . Nate promises to take back the - fully insured - prescriptions for sixty percent of their market value. At the handover, Van Zant tries to have McCauley liquidated. However, with the help of his gang, he escapes unharmed, only to threaten Van Zant's life by telephone.

In an effort to keep his gang cohesive, McCauley later forces the wife of his gambling addict gang member Chris Shiherlis to end a love affair and instead give Chris support. Alan Marciano, who is involved in the affair and who is known to the police, is shortly afterwards put under pressure by Hanna and forced to reveal information about Chris Shiherlis. After a prostitute murder committed by Waingro, Hanna is also entrusted with this investigation. Shortly thereafter, Waingro offered his criminal services to middlemen and was referred to Van Zant by them.

In the next coup, Hanna wants to convict the criminals inflagranti and arrest them on the spot. Because a cop accidentally makes a noise, McCauley stops the break-in early. In view of the expected low sentence and trusting a better opportunity, Hanna lets those involved escape. Now aware of the observation, the gang then does everything possible to identify their tailors. From a safe distance it is possible to take photos of Hanna and his officers after a fake plan of an attack.

Despite Nate's warning that McCauley is now living particularly dangerous because of Hanna's investigation, McCauley and his gang want to commit another bank robbery and steal about 12 million US dollars . With this in mind, as well as his decision to continue the love affair with his recently met girlfriend Eady, McCauley consciously neglects his professional policy never to “get attached to something that you cannot easily forget within 30 seconds if you notice that the floor is getting too hot for you. "

McCauley accepts Hanna's spontaneous invitation for a chat in a restaurant. Among other things, they explain to each other that they would not spare each other's lives in a further confrontation. A little later, McCauley, Cheritto and Shiherlis can shake off the police officers watching them.

When the bank robbery, which had been prepared for a long time, was imminent, Trejo, who was supposed to be the driver, got out of the plan at short notice, as he was certain that the police would be watching him. McCauley therefore spontaneously hires his former fellow inmate Donald Breedan - whom he meets by chance in a restaurant - as the driver of the car intended for the escape.

The cash robbery from a bank in a busy Los Angeles neighborhood is initially going according to plan. Since the police found out about the robbery at short notice from an informant, Hanna and his officers arrive at the bank when Shiherlis is not yet in the vehicle. The gang tries to shoot their way through with assault rifles . Breedan and several police officers die in the gun battle lasting several minutes on Fox Plaza. McCauley, Cheritto, and Shiherlis continue their escape on foot. Hanna can shoot Cheritto. McCauley escapes with the wounded Shiherlis and some of the booty. Nate gives Shiherlis a new identity and McCauley a new escape route.

McCauley learns from the fatally injured Trejo that Waingro - who works for Van Zant - forced him to tell about the bank robbery, and redeems him with a coup de grace. Then he shoots Van Zant - whose address Nate gave him - in his apartment. Eady only realizes McCauley's true identity when he returns to her apartment and reluctantly agrees to accompany him to his escape destination New Zealand .

Charlene Shiherlis lets the police force her to lure Chris, but helps him - by tricking the police - to escape with a show of hands. Assuming that this is one of the reasons why she lost track of the gangsters, Hanna goes to his hotel room. There he finds Lauren seriously injured after attempting suicide , whereupon he takes her to a hospital. After her life is out of danger, he and Justine - who now has another lover - decide to end their relationship.

McCauley is already on the way to the airport with Eady when, after receiving information from Nate, he decides to make a detour to the airport hotel where Waingro is hiding. He shoots Waingro, who is already being watched by the police. The arriving Hanna sees the gang leader. McCauley leaves Eady behind and escapes on foot to the LA airport. Between the approach lights , the two play a game of cat and mouse for a few minutes before Hanna - noticed by McCauley's suddenly appearing shadow - can fire several shots at his opponent . McCauley dies while Hanna holds his hand respectfully.


Script and project development

Director, screenwriter and co-producer Michael Mann

The script is based on real events, the focus of which is the confrontation of the policeman Chuck Adamson with the criminal Neil McCauley in Chicago1960s stands. During a police chase there was an unplanned encounter between the two and a confidential conversation developed in which Adamson's private problems at the time were also discussed. Adamson and McCauley then parted ways with mutual respect, knowing and approving that another encounter would result in the death of either party. After a bank robbery followed by a car chase, there was finally a final firefight in 1963, as a result of which McCauley was killed by multiple gunshots Adamson.

Michael Mann first found out about this story in the late 1970s and early 1980s through his friend Adamson. According to his own account, he was so impressed by the respectful and professional relationship between Adamson and McCauley that he decided shortly afterwards to write a corresponding screenplay for a film. In a press interview given in 1983, Mann stated that he also wanted to put the script into a film. Finally, in 1989, the television film Showdown in LA (original title: LA Takedown ) emerged from this , which was intended as a pilot film for a television series called Hanna . For the shooting of the film, men only had ten days for pre-productionand 19 days for the actual recordings. The television series did not materialize, however, because the directing man could not agree with NBC program director Brandon Tartikoff about the casting of the lead role.

Mann rewrote large parts of the script for Heat and agreed with producer friend Art Linson to co-produce the film with Mann as director. After Pacino and De Niro could be won for the leading roles, the film studio Warner Bros. agreed to the project. The script has about 70 speaking roles and the budget for Heat was about $ 60 million. Arnon Milchan took over the financing of the film .

In the new script, the fictional character Vincent Hanna borrows not only from Adamson, but, according to Mann, also from another, unspecified person who conducted operations against drug dealers abroad. Hanna actor Pacino stated in an interview in 2016 that Hanna's emotional outbursts in Heat are based on his cocaine addiction. The character of the wire-puller Nate is based on the story of the criminal Edward Bunker , the character Waingro is based on the real murderer of the same name who became an informant for the police.


actor Role name German
voice actor
Al Pacino Vincent Hanna Frank Glaubrecht
Robert De Niro Neil McCauley Christian Brückner
Val Kilmer Chris Shiherlis Torsten Sense
Jon Voight Nate Helmut Krauss
Tom Sizemore Michael Cheritto Hans-Jürgen Wolf
Diane Venora Justine Hanna Joseline Gassen
Amy Brenneman Eady Irina von Bentheim
Ashley Judd Charlene Shiherlis Maud Ackermann
Mykelti Williamson printer Charles Rettinghaus
Wes Studi Casals Klaus-Dieter Klebsch
Ted Levine Bosko Ernst Meincke
Dennis Haysbert Donald Breedan Andreas Hosang
William Fichtner Roger van Zant Florian Krüger-Shantin
Natalie Portman Lauren Gustafson Ranja Bonalana
Tom Noonan Kelso Bodo Wolf
Kevin Gage Waingro Gerald Paradise
Hank Azaria Alan Marciano Oliver Field
Danny Trejo Trejo Jörg Döring
Henry Rollins Hugh Benny Bernd Schramm
Ricky Harris Albert Torena Simon hunter
Tone Lōc Richard Torena Engelbert von Nordhausen

Heat is the first film that shows the two film stars and character actors Pacino and De Niro together on the screen. Both already played in The Godfather - Part II , but had no scenes in common there. In 1995, the usual fee demands of the two Oscar winners were 12 (Pacino) and 7 (De Niro) million US dollars per film.

In the television movie Showdown in LA , Scott Plank played the role of Vincent Hanna , Alex McArthur that of his adversary Patrick McLaren . Xander Berkeley  - which in Showdown in LA to Waingro mimed - took over in Heat the role of Ralph , the lover of Hanna's wife Justine .

For the role of Chris Shiherlis , Keanu Reeves was originally intended. Val Kilmer wasn't signed until he became available while filming Batman Forever . Amy Brenneman originally didn't want to appear in the film because she found the script too bloody and immoral. You could persuade her to play along with the argument that with this way of thinking she was the perfect cast for the role of Eady . Jon Voight initially refused to play the Nate and was only persuaded later.


During the pre-production , Mann exchanged views with inmates at Folsom State Prison about their living conditions and daily routines. The knowledge gained enabled him to make the figure of the former prison inmate McCauley look more authentic. In addition, Mann accompanied a civil investigator from the Los Angeles Police Department for a long timeto gain insights into his work and life. A little later, Mann inspected a real bank together with his main actors De Niro, Kilmer and Sizemore. They pretended to be robbery with unloaded weapons - previously coordinated with the bank's security forces - so that they could better empathize with the bank robbers and the threatened employees. For trial shoots of the shootings that followed the bank robbery, a mock-up of the location was set up. The actors involved in the firefight had previously received thorough training in handling weapons for several days. They were supported by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the British special forces Special Air Service .

Filming and locations

Filming began on February 21, 1995 and continued through July 19, 1995. According to Mann, they lasted 110 days. As a cameraman was Dante Spinotti committed, who had previously been frequently collaborated with man and the camera occasionally told him.

It was shot exclusively on the original locations , the number of which Mann with 160 other sources, on the other hand, was only 65 or - only in relation to Los Angeles - 95.

The scene in which Hanna and McCauley meet for a conversation in a restaurant was improvised by both of them at Mann's instigation. Mann intended to increase the credibility.

One of the locations for the film was the Johnie's Broiler restaurant in Downey , south of Los Angeles , which is also used for other Hollywood productions . The restaurant - where McCauley and Hanna's meeting was filmed - was the Kate Mantilini on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills . The debut heist was filmed on Venice Boulevard under the Santa Monica Freeway and near the Los Angeles Convention Center .

Due to the filming permit, the staff only had three weekends to film the shooting - which takes place after the bank robbery. The scene and final location of that firefight was Figueroa Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets in Los Angeles. The interior shots of the bank robbery itself were shot in the real branch of the Far East National Bank in L.A., while the exterior shots of the robbery were shot on South Flower Street at Fifth Street.

Mann's later film Collateral (2004) starts where Heat ends - Los Angeles International Airport  - and ends at the same Los Angeles Metro station where Heat begins. Mann later referred to this as "quite coincidentally".

Music and post production

Because some scenes could not be filmed the traditional way, computerized special effects and digital compositing were used. This includes, for example, the love scene in which McCauley and Eady look out over the Hollywood Hills .

Heat's soundtrack consists on the one hand of pieces specially composed for the film by the US film music composer Elliot Goldenthal and the US string quartet Kronos Quartet . Goldenthal received support from the guitarist Page Hamilton . In addition, selected pieces by various other artists - independent of the film - are part of the soundtrack. The film music is mainly electronic instrumental music . These include New Age sounds by Terje Rypdal and ambient music by Brian Eno and Moby. Percussion instruments , guitars, cellos and experimental instruments were used for the music .

The German dubbing was done by the Berlin company Interopa Film . Dialogue author was Theodor Dopheide , dialogue director led Engelbert Nordhausen .


movie theater

Before the US theatrical release, the film studio Warner Bros. Heat primarily advertised with a focus on the first meeting of the great actors Pacino and De Niro. In the USA, Heat premiered on December 15, 1995, in many other states not until 1996; so in Germany from February 29, 1996, in Austria and Switzerland from March 1, 1996.

With around 187 million US dollars, Heat made three times its budget; US cinemas accounted for 67 million US dollars and German cinemas around 9 million US dollars.

State, continent and world Theatrical release Number of visitors Gross profit
United StatesUnited States United States Dec 15, 1995 7.45 million 0$ 67.4 million
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 0Feb. 2, 1996 2.74 million 0$ 14.7 million
FranceFrance France Feb 21, 1996 1.42 million
GermanyGermany Germany Feb. 29, 1996 1.07 million 00$ 9.0 million
AustriaAustria Austria 0March 1, 1996
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 0March 1, 1996 0.18 million
Europe 9.95 million
world $ 187.4 million

On the occasion of the release of Heat as Director's Definitive Edition on Blu-ray and DVD , the film was shown again in various US cinemas on May 2, 2017.

Laserdisc and VHS

In 1996, Heat appeared on Laserdisc in the United States and Germany . In the same year the distributor Warner Home Video released the film - at least in these two countries - on VHS , in Germany initially only as a rental video and only later - around 2000 - also as a purchase video.

DVD and Blu-ray

In 1999 Warner Heat released it for the first time on DVD , in Germany initially only as a rental video and only as a purchase video in 2002. In March 2005 the distributor re-released the film on DVD as a special edition . It contains Heat with an improved image quality compared to previous DVD and Laserdisc editions and supplemented by bonus material. New editions of this edition appeared - at least in Germany - in 2006 as a Premium Limited Edition and in 2008 as a Premium Edition , also by Warner.

First published on Blu-ray Warner Heat in the United States in 2009. This film version contains compared to the theatrical version and the previously released home video releases an alternative setting and minor changes to a dialog. In 2012 this version appeared as a Premium Collection as the first German Blu-ray edition of the film.

Thereafter, the rights to Heat changed from Warner to distribution 20th Century Fox . Under the supervision of man was a version of the film, for use as a template, a master in high resolution ultra- served. This has been released in several countries since 2017, including Germany on February 23, 2017 on Blu-ray. The edition bears the addition of Director's Definitive Edition and again contains additional bonus material. The picture quality is improved even further compared to the original Blu-ray release by Warner.

Other publications

Heat had its German premiere on pay TV on February 20, 1998 on Premiere . The German free TV first broadcast took place on April 3, 1999 on ProSieben . The film was shown several times on this channel as well as on other, including public channels.

Heat is also available from various video-on-demand providers.

The soundtrack was released on CD in 1996 under the title Music from the Motion Picture Heat on the Warner Bros. Records label and contains 21 tracks, some of which are longer than in the film (see the music section for a list of tracks ) .

The Austrian Film Museum performed Heat in 2011 as part of the series Die Utopie Film .

To mark the 20th anniversary of the first release of Heat , the film was screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in the presence of the director. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences  - which awards the Oscars - hosted another anniversary screening of the film on September 7, 2016 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater .


Based on reviews in English, the websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic calculated approval rates for the film of 86 and 76 percent, respectively.

Contemporary criticism

Reviews published when it opened in theaters


Rather positive


Rather negative


When it was first published, the opinions of US critics differed. Richard Schickel, for example, described Heat in Time magazine as “great. Really epic. A masterpiece. All-round original. ” Roger Ebert rated Heat three and a half stars out of four in the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper and acknowledged that Mann's script and direction of the narrated plot, including testing the two male protagonists with women, were classy. However, a large part of the reviews ranged from partial dissatisfaction to great disappointment. Janet Maslin of the New York Timesfor example - in contrast to Ebert - was bothered by the women's stories; they revealed the negligence of half the film. For the director, dialogues in the film are often nothing more than a necessary evil. Maslin wrote in a nutshell: "Extraordinary actors, clever sets, a plot maze and a script with almost 70 speaking roles do not change the fact that 'Heat' is essentially empty and its characters have little to say." James Berardinelli posed with his Criticism Heat gave an almost devastating testimony, assessed it as a “colossal disappointment” and wrote: “About 40 minutes of Heat are exciting. The rest varies from monotonous to boring. "

Berardinelli and several other US critics argued that Heat did not offer enough scenes in which De Niro and Pacino appear together. The film critic of the Chicago Tribune called it a "shame", the writer of Entertainment Weekly considered it the director's "perverse decision". Another criticism that was often mentioned was the length of the film; it is too long and, given its length, does not offer enough interesting information. The end of the film also disappointed some US critics: It was conventional and unimpressive. Hal Hinson of the Washington Postthought it was "ridiculous". The end turns out to be "a kind of spiritual-metaphysical fusion" - to call it a "mythical absurdity" is "politely expressed". Some US critics, but also the Swiss Marc Walder in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung , also found the film overloaded with content. For example, it is superfluous that the serial killer issue is also taken up with Waingro's background .

The reviews in German media, on the other hand, were entirely positive and sometimes euphoric. The film service - from which the lexicon of international film is fed - identified Heat as "one of the most captivating police and gangster films in recent years". epd Film described Heat as a “masterful genre cinema” and “a grandiose study of the relationship between the hunter and the hunted”; the director found “a wonderful balance between uncompromising physical expression and subtle milieu and character drawing”. The jury of the Filmbewertungsstelle Wiesbaden rated Heatas “particularly valuable” and emphasized that his story works “thanks to an excellent script without any break”, that his dramaturgy knows how to keep tension and that his music is “well used and pleasantly restrained”. The FBW, like other German critics, praised the making of the film as well thought out, refined and meticulous. The critic of the Frankfurter Rundschau said in this context that “the staging itself supports the impression of physically noticeable exertion through a solidity of construction”, “which is as remote from the highly budgeted B-Pictures of contemporary American cinema as the characters in Heat are from the corrupt anti - Heroes of the newer crime film. "

The achievements of the actors, including those of the supporting roles, were praised by the majority of the critics. Some US critics believed, however, to see overacting in Pacino's game . Critics also judged the cast as appropriate and impressive, the characterization of the characters as rich and the plot as free from clichés. In addition, the locations would be used excellently.

In comparison with Showdown in LA , Frank Schnelle praised Film Heat as the significantly better film in the epd . Man had "eliminated weak points with a sure hand", the end of the film is now more plausible. Due to a quieter and appropriately elaborate staging, the same scenes in Heat gain substance or only function here at all.

Later and undated review

The British media were full of praise for Heat . The London magazine Time Out as judged Heat as the best US-thriller of the decade. The action scenes are better than in films by John Woo and Quentin Tarantino and the character portrayal reaches a depth that most US filmmakers could only dream of. From Empire magazineit was said that Mann understood how to "unite levels of character and theme as well as action and extraordinary cinematic technique" and thus create a "sparkling picture of the causes, consequences and human costs of crime in a fragmented, modern world". The interplay between De Niro and Pacino during their conversation in the restaurant seems like a “duet between two master musicians”.

The German online magazine Filmstarts said that the film was a great experience in terms of both content and appearance. “The melancholy ballad of living and dying in LA is a milestone in the genre. Absolutely perfect. "The e-zine critic.de praised the film as a" classic of the crime film of the nineties. "

The US magazine American Cinematographer - which deals primarily with the work of cameramen - was enthusiastic about Dante Spinotti's performance at Heat in 2005 : Spinotti used the anamorphic process “like a master draftsman” and composed his images with a view to both narrative effect and also on aesthetic beauty. One of his most impressive achievements is to convey the spirit of film noir without imitating other films in this style.


Heat was suggested for some prizes but failed to prevail. He received most of the nominations for the Chicago Film Critics Association Award , in the categories of Best Picture , Best Supporting Actress ( Diane Venora ), Best Cinematography ( Dante Spinotti ), and Best Score ( Elliot Goldenthal ). For the Cinema Audio Society Award was heat in the category Best sound mixing suggested. From the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association was Heat in the categoryBest film nominated for an award. There was one nomination for the Saturn Award in 1996 in the categories of Best Action / Adventure Film and - for Val Kilmer  - Best Supporting Actor . Natalie Portman was nominated for the YoungStar Award for Best Young Actress.

Today, Heat is often recognized as a masterpiece , classic and cult film . This can be seen, among other things, in a book that appeared in the BFI Modern Classics series at the British Film Institute in 2002 and in which the author Nick James only deals with Heat . In the months around the turn of the year 2015/16 - which marked the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Heat - several magazines - including the US magazines Esquire and Rolling Stone as well as the British Telegraph  - recognized the film as one of the best.

Heat is described by some recipients as the best film by the author filmmaker Mann. This includes the US online magazine Slate , which Heat 2016 highlighted as Mann's "most complete work". Other cinematic works by Mann have been measured and documented by critics of Heat . Also Jon Avnet's film Short process - Righteous Kill once again appeared together in the Pacino and De Niro - - (2008) was subject in comparison with Heat .

Heat has been included in some leaderboards. The German online portal Filmstarts, for example, took him to number 5 in its list of the 50 best thrillers in 2014. In the IMDb list of 250 films - which are rated as the best by users - Heat has been represented for several years and ranks there with a rating of 8.2 - on a scale from 0 to the best possible value 10 - the 123. Place (as of April 27, 2020).

The German film magazine epd Film praised the film in 2016 as one that was passed over in the Oscar nominations, but as a masterpiece it was worth an Oscar award. In 2017 she recognized it as an epoch-making gangster film. British film critic David Thomson called Heat in his book The New Biographical Dictionary of Film (2002) "one of the best-made films" of the 1990s.

The academy responsible for awarding the Oscars named Heat an “epic crime film” and a “film milestone” in a report on the 2016 anniversary screening.

Interpretation and analysis

Shape and style

Director Mann wanted Heat to be understood as a drama and specifically not as a genre film . Nevertheless arranged critics Heat in genres like thriller , action film , action thriller , police drama , gangster film , thriller and heist movie one. Some recipients classified it as a parable or epic and believed they recognized elements of film noir - especially neo-noir .

Lindstrom (2002) emphasized the strong roots of the film in the gangster film genre and placed it in line with two of its most important representatives. Jump in death (original title: White Heat ) from 1949, like Heat, have "the over-devoted cop, the sociopathic criminal, the robbery of money and the reliance on technology to gain crucial information". Detective Bannion from the film Hot Iron (original title: The Big Heat ) from 1953 is an important forerunner of Hannas in terms of his determination and determination .

Film critics and scholars highlighted Mann's focus on style and representation compared to the content of the film. There are “long, visually overwhelming and acoustically refined scenes, whose slow rhythm and intensity focus less on what happens' than on 'how it is represented'”, García Mainar said with regard to other works by the director. The fact that the film relies so much on its style to communicate with the audience makes it a work with postmodern qualities.

Various recipients agreed that the visual and acoustic style of the film was shaped by ideas and influences from the art and culture of the 1970s and 1980s. Mainar emphasized in this context a strong influence by the experimental art of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It shows, for example, in McCauley's personal style and the design of the rooms he lives in.

Sabine Horst called the film a stylistic “'impure' mixture”, because although it is much more realistic in terms of dialogues and locations than other genre representatives of previous years, the settings or the use of color and music never seem anything random to give.

Visual style

According to British film critic Nick James , the style of the 1980s in film is expressed by "the grand fascist corporate buildings, posing in over-the-top suits and obsession with designer brand consumer goods".

Several paintings served as sources of inspiration for the creation of the film . This includes above all Pacific (1967) by the Canadian painter Alex Colville . Man used it as a model for the setting in which McCauley in blue light against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean is in his apartment and you can see on the table in the foreground his weapon. For Mainar, the painting is a combination of Rea- and Surrealism and thus in keeping with David Hockney's Impressionist Realism .

The film scholar Steven Rybin was convinced that Mann was influenced by the Russian filmmaker Dsiga Wertow (1896–1954) in the visual design of the film . Wertow - admired by Mann - had a preference for using the camera like a superhuman eye that can see more than the human eye. Heat is similar in this regard, because the camera tends to emphasize a wealth of visual reality that his characters never fully grasp. Characteristic of Heatare also horizontal camera pans, which - according to Rybin's interpretation - show a high density of information both on surfaces within the image and through environments that the figures themselves cannot see. Rybin interpreted the cinematography of a number of scenes - which were created with the help of computer-generated special effects and digital compositings - as "dream-like" and visually contradicting both city and ocean and between black and blue. There are figures against the background of a sea of ​​urban lights and silhouettes. An example of this is the scene as McCauley , sitting in the car with Eady and with Natetelephoning, can be seen against the backdrop of LA at night. Another example is the scene in which McCauley and Eady - after she tried to escape from him - can be seen against the background of the Pacific. Rybin also interpreted this scene as an allusion to Michelangelo Antonioni's typical staging of estranged couples in films like Playing with Love (1960).

The dialogue between the two protagonists in a fast-service restaurant is staged in the form of a shot-reverse shot . Nick James understood the effect of portraying the two actors alternating in the same way during conversation, as "brilliant" and as useful for expressing that each character looks in a mirror.

The US film critic Richard Combs expressed his conviction that Mann had let himself be influenced by Stanley Kubrick , who also dealt with heist movies and gangster films at the beginning of his career . In Heat, Mann took up stories and characters by Kubrick that retain the “pulp feel” typical of such genres, and turned them “into perfect works of art and mega-productions carried out with private rules.” Heat was ““ The calculation did not work out from a Kubrick with the ambitions and strength of 2001: A Space Odyssey . "

Nick James judged the style in which Los Angeles is portrayed in Heat as deviating from the “traditionally claustrophobic view of a crime film” on this - typical for the film noir style - “night city of feverish money-gatherers with a strong sex drive in disreputable rooms”. The US cultural theorist Norman M. Klein took a similar opinion on the staging of the city of LA as James and described Heat as an “ homageto the more demanding Los Angeles ”. He remarked: “The proliferation and deadly haze of the LA clover has been ignored. Man was particularly taken with the look of LA from the top of a large building around midnight during the smog- free season ”. Mainar said that the filming on locations in the film served the desire to let the gangster story compete with a story about the city of LA. For example, the scene at the beginning of the film, when the train with McCauley arrives at the station, provides an almost abstract view of lighting and ultra-modern architecture, supported by the lack of dialogue and the presence of intense ambient music.

Cinematographer Spinotti ensures - according to James - with his skills "to bring deeply etched shadows into the mostly sun-drenched daylight scenes" and to carefully weaken colors to gray tones for a "relatively light-friendly neo-noir feeling", so that the opponents, for example, during the bank robbery looked anemic.


Content of the soundtrack release
No. title Composition and performance
1 Heat Elliot Goldenthal , Kronos Quartet
2 Always Forever Now U2 , Brian Eno
3 Condensers Elliot Goldenthal
4th Refinery surveillance Elliot Goldenthal, Kronos Quartet
5 Last nite Terje Rypdal
6th Ultramarine Michael Brook
7th Armenia Collapsing new buildings
8th Of helplessness Elliot Goldenthal
9 Steel cello lament Elliot Goldenthal
10 Mystery Man Terje Rypdal
11 New Dawn Fades Joy Division , Moby
12 Entrada & Shootout Elliot Goldenthal
13 Force marker Brian Eno
14th Coffee shop Elliot Goldenthal
15th Fate scrapes Elliot Goldenthal
16 La Bas Lisa Gerrard
17th Gloradin Lisa Gerrard
18th Run uphill Elliot Goldenthal
19th Predator diorama Elliot Goldenthal, Kronos Quartet
20th Of separation Elliot Goldenthal
21st God Moving Over the
Face of the Waters

While the majority of the film music manages as pure ambient music without percussion support, the opening sequence from the Kronos Quartet is characterized by rhythmic beats, which Rybin interpreted as reinforcing the theme of the passing time. During the robbery on an inner-city bank, the piece Force Marker by Brian Eno is played, which is characterized by electronic, rhythmic beats and underlines the tension during the robbery.

Recipients interpreted the music as minimalist . In his essay, García Mainar took the view that the compositions alternated between calm, hypnotizing space music to emphasize the scenes and powerful sounds to accompany action or tension. The best example of this mixture was the intoned by Moby - originally from the post-punk - band Joy Division coming - piece New Dawn Fades , which sounds while McCauley on the highway of Hannais pursued. The journalist Anke Sterneborg said that the music with its unfamiliar sound combinations gives the atmosphere of the film a “driving drive” and charges it with “melancholy forlornness”.

Nick James said that the music is so well integrated into the cinematic fabric that it seems like a constant presence; an infinite, orchestrated growth and fading of semi-industrial noises. The minimalism - by which they are all shaped - gave the film a kind of high-tech shine. Mann's willingness to switch between this music and his narrative event sound - with both commenting on each other - is a fresh understanding of the meaning of film soundscapes.

James justified the fact that the film was aesthetically shaped by the culture of the 1980s, among other things with Mann's original, but then not realized, intention to underlay the plot with music by the US guitarist Glenn Branca .

In the soundtrack - according to Mainar - Chris Jenkins ' hyper-real sound design coexisted with Goldenthal's experimental sounds and Moby's electronic music. This illustrates the changing concentration of the film on real events and spaces on the one hand and on representation on the other.


Compare to showdown in LA

In Mann's television film Showdown in LA (original title: LA Takedown ) - based on the script Heat is based - the main character - who leads the gang - is not called Neil McCauley , but Patrick McLaren . The other, most important characters have the same names as in the movie. In the TV film, those melodramatic plot parts that play in the main characters at home are almost completely left out. The action in the televised film - which is only about an hour and a half long - progresses faster than in Heat . Unlike in the movie, Showdown in LA has no storyline with the character Roger van Zantand no breaking into the warehouse for precious metals. The gang becomes aware of the police when Cheritto discovers listening devices in his car. McLaren is fatally injured when Waingro shoots the door of his apartment shortly after police tracked McLaren down there. At the end of the TV movie, there is no handshake between McLaren and Hanna ; the latter pushes Waingro to his death out of the window.

Melancholy and dehumanization

In the film service Franz Everschor interpreted that the film shows a dehumanized world: According to the philosophy of the characters to do what you do best yourself, "the really successful in every profession only obeyed the claim to perfection ". “Transactions that cost others their lives are then carried out with the utmost precision and meticulousness. Beyond the standards of humanity and morality, everything has become 'business'. ”The staging makes the plot increasingly synonymous with life at the end of the 20th century . In this connection, for example, the view from McCauleys conveyedbarely furnished apartment on the infinite ocean "the feeling of being thrown back into one's own isolation". Todd McCarthy of Variety interpreted the film as attentive, deeply melancholic interpretation of modern life; it shows a picture of society as a whole with "fragmented lives, broken families and women who are left alone as a result."


The Australian media scholar Ari Mattes highlighted the parallels between Hanna and McCauley in Heat : Both are obsessively focused on their work, to the detriment of their private lives. Both are brutal pragmatists, that is, violent when necessary. Both are isolated from the society around them and basically exist outside of the domestic environment, although both are characterized as surrogate fathers: McCauley as the paternal friend of Chris Shiherlis and Hanna as the stepfather of Lauren. Both would know, admire and respect each other as their archenemy, nevertheless the film arouses empathy for both opponents and completely avoids the structure of good hero versus bad villain .

Mattes suggested that both Hanna and McCauley operated outside of any significant moral context, with no sense of ultimate justice or politics. They work because that is what they do best, as they tell each other at the meeting in the restaurant. The law in its relation to justice does not exist in their value system. They recognize each other for designated but morally meaningless job roles, as law enforcers and law breakers.

The film shows similarities in the lives of Hanna and McCauley, for example - according to Lindstrom - when McCauley visits a restaurant with his gang members and their families and Hanna also visits a restaurant with work colleagues and their families. In either case, other needs steal the show from the socializations that both Hanna and McCauley would have to leave the dinner parties.

Work and personal life

Hal Hinson believed in the Washington Post that he saw the message emanating from the film that men were too destructive and too violent for “domestication” - that is, domestic taming; their real partners are not women, but their male counterparts. Regarding the intrinsic violence of men, the film is similar to the western The Wild Bunch - They Knew No Law (1969). In the Chicago Tribune , Michael Wilmington Heat compared with that Western and said he was influenced by The Wild book : In both films, the criminals are linked crooks and the police are more antagonisticshown. Even being a cop can be a hell of a job that can drive you crazy.

In an essay in Jump Cut magazine , JA Lindstrom discussed the dominating role of the protagonists' work in relation to their private lives as the theme of Heat . For example, the figures showed several aspects of revision. So they like their job, work day and night and don't complain about working long hours. The film is thus commenting on the subject of revision and its personal costs and in this respect captures the zeitgeist of its time of creation: the increasing dominance of work over other parts of life in the 1990s. Increasing working hours among potential viewers would be Hanna and McCauley to represent whole sections of the population.

The film directly addresses - so Lindstrom continues - the primacy of work in the life of criminals in particular. This is expressed, for example, in the conversation between McCauley and Hanna in the restaurant about doing what you do best and neither knowing nor liking other activities. Heat has little left for any devotion to a personal life, also because with Hanna , McCauley and Breedan most of the main characters leave their respective partners. Since none of them - with the exception of Hannas - survived in the end, it was a grim message from Heatthat the preference of work over private life does not guarantee professional success.

McCauley's principle of never getting attached to something that you cannot leave behind in 30 seconds when you notice that the ground under your feet is getting too hot, García Mainar (2008) cited as an important example of this Moments in the film at which a fundamental theme of the film noir style becomes clear, namely the implicit danger of establishing connections with other people.

Lindstrom said that the domestic scenes of Heats constantly insist that work consumes the time and energy that would normally be devoted to personal relationships - relationships that are valuable to Hanna and the gang but are postponed by them. In this respect, Heat transforms the role of the domestic scene within the gangster film genre. Unlike Detective Bannion in Hot Iron, Hanna's obsession with work does not stem from family circumstances, but rather competes with them. This becomes clear when Hanna von Justine repeatedly faced with the choice between family and work and he always opts for the latter.

Nick James interpreted the criminals in the film - apart from Waingro - also because of their business- like neatness as " yuppie villains, whose clean approach to armed robbery seems to match the 1990s idea of ​​minimalist chic." Neither of them exudes such muscle power typical of action movie heroes and villains of the time.

Thrill as personal fulfillment

Mattes (2014) said that, in contrast to other Hollywood action films, in which the social and moral order is restored by the acts of violence of the action hero , Heat belongs to a counter-movement in US action narratives that follow the pattern of action without regeneration , that is "Action without relaxation". Films narrated according to this pattern contained action that did not restore social order and in which the hero was often confronted with the absolute insignificance of his victory. In Heat this shows itself to Hanna , who finds his fulfillment more in the thrill of chasing criminals like McCauleyfind than in the resolution, the result of such action. Hanna follows an impulse to restore order, but his private life is marked by eternal disorder. The fulfillment that catching his prey gives him is to that extent a cannibalistic , self-destructive experience.

Fraud and deception

Mark E. Wildermuth - author of a book on Michael Mann (2005) - pointed out that in Heat there was a world of betrayal both of others and of oneself and thus a culture of deception. This pattern repeats itself with every relationship within the film. Heat is full of various types of fraud, which always prevent honest dialogue with one another. Neil McCauley, for example, lies to Eady about his true identity and his true profession. He lies to both Eady and himself by saying not to be lonely. Because later it becomes clear that he desperately wants to share his life with someone in a protected space, for example through the intention of following togetherNew Zealand draw. Charlene Shiherlis cheats on the police by warning her husband about her and thus protecting against arrest. This situation - according to Wildermuth - is the only one in the film in which cheating serves someone other than the cheating. At the end of the film, McCauley is betrayed by the airport lighting, which creates a shadow to his disadvantage. The moment when McCauley, dying, repeats his principle never to go back to prison, is his only one with uncompromising truth.

Influences and adaptations

Media influences and adaptations

Heat had an influence on the computer game series Grand Theft Auto . The mission Three Leaf Clover contained in GTA IV (2008) adapts the bank robbery from Heat with regard to weapons, suits and money bags; The Blitz Play mission from GTA V (2013) has an equivalent structure to the attack on the money transporter at the beginning of the film, when McCauley's gang rams the transporter with another vehicle.

The US company Gearbox Software intended to adapt Heat for a computer game, but this was not realized. In 2006, the conclusion of a corresponding licensing agreement with the rights holder Regency Enterprises became known. Discussions took place that Michael Mann is overseeing the development of the game - which would be a prequel or a sequel - and that the film's lead actors would lend their voices to the characters. A lack of time was later given as the reason for not realizing the game.

That of Brian Eno coming Piece Force marker - which can be heard during the bank robbery - inspired the soundtracks of other films, including the music during the bank robbery in the Batman film The Dark Knight is played (2008). The integration of music by Moby - largely unknown until the mid-1990s - into the soundtrack of Heat ensured a surge in popularity for the artist. The 2012 EP Los Angeles by the US grindcore band Graf Orlock is based on Heat in terms of its lyrics.

The publishing group HarperCollins has announced the publication of a prequel for Heat in the form of a novel for 2020 (status: July 2019). Co-authored alongside Michael Mann is Reed Farrel Coleman .

Influence on recruit training

The shootout that McCauley's gang had after the bank robbery went down as one of the most famous and best-staged in film history. It was also later shown to United States Navy recruits as a textbook example of a situation in which one is under fire.

Source of inspiration for criminals

Heat was cited as a model for a number of actual crimes after its release. The North Hollywood shootout - which took place between two bank robbers and Los Angeles police in 1997 - was similar to the shooting after the bank robbery in Heat . After the attack, media reported that the perpetrators knew the film well. According to the book authors Alvarez and Bachman, Heat served as a source of inspiration for the perpetrators.

Masked robbers carried out a robbery on a money transporter in Cali, Colombia, in the same manner as the robbery carried out by McCauley's gang at the beginning of the film. The South African weekly Financial Mail reported in 2005, on the occasion of a series of robberies on money trucks in Gauteng Province , that Heat had become legendary in criminal circles since its publication. According to the testimony of a perpetrator in a court case in the late 1990s, one of his gang's preparatory measures was to repeatedly look at Heat .

Furthermore, the French - Algerian criminal Rédoine Faïd - the most wanted criminal in France in 2013 - used Heat as a model for robberies on money transporters.


Web links

Individual evidence

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This article was added to the list of excellent articles on March 31, 2018 in this version .