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Gates of Heaven/Vernon, Florida [Criterion Collection] [DVD]

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$22.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • Two new interviews with Morris
  • Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980), a twenty-minute film by Les Blank featuring Herzog fulfilling a bet intended to inspire Morris to complete his first feature
  • Footage of Herzog professing his admiration for Gates of Heaven at the 1980 Telluride Film Festival

Synopsis

Vernon, Florida
For his second documentary feature, Errol Morris originally set out to chronicle Vernon, FL, because it had the highest rate of a particular sort of insurance fraud -- dismemberment performed for profit -- than any other place in the country. Nothing of that original idea survives in the film itself. Instead, Morris seems perfectly content letting the camera roll in front of the other eccentrics he found there, using his trademark approach of simply letting his subjects do the talking themselves. Many of them exhibit unusually close relationships to animals, including a turtle keeper, a worm farmer, and most memorably, an extremely enthusiastic turkey hunter. Other highlights include a sermon offering a close reading on the significance of the word "therefore" and a couple with a jar of sand from White Sands, NM, that they insist, thanks to radiation, has begun to multiply. ~ Keith Phipps, Rovi

Gates of Heaven
Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris' debut immediately attracted acclaim for its straight-faced treatment of a subject practically begging for ridicule. When the Foothill Memorial Gardens pet cemetery, located north of San Francisco, closed (its land was sold for a housing project), the 450 animals interred there had to be moved to Bubbling Well Memorial Park in nearby Napa. Morris saw the transfer as an opportunity to explore the world of pet owners who are so devoted that they see nothing wrong with giving their animals a full dose of the last rites. His simple technique was to film his subjects, usually seated, talking about their loved ones, alternating with shots of the two cemeteries and the move. Critic Roger Ebert became an early champion of the film, and Morris' struggles to finish it resulted in a very amusing short film, Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. The German filmmaker had bet Morris that he would never complete the film, and when he did, Herzog publicly boiled and consumed one of his shoes for the camera of director Les Blank. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • George Harris
    George Harris
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.