Gates of Heaven (1978), Vernon, Florida (1981) Criterion Collection
When you hear the word "documentary", a few names immediately come to mind. Two of those names might be Werner Herzog ('Burden of Dreams') or Michael Moore ('Roger and Me'). A third name, someone who has made some of the most influential, interesting, and informative documentaries is Errol Morris. Morris even created a new kind of camera system for his documentaries called the Interrotron, which the filmmaking industry continues to use today.

'Gates of Heaven' follows a couple of families and their pet cemetery businesses in California. Without the use of a narrative or even narration or a score, Morris only interviews these families and other people about their thoughts on putting their beloved pets to rest. The result is a charming, funny, and bittersweet outlook on the relationship between humans and their pets. Through these interviews, Morris gets a glimpse of what life means to the common people of America and how business and industry affect our emotions and decisions in these difficult times.

A couple of years later, Morris turned in a documentary called 'Vernon, Florida', which was kind of life threatening at first for the director. The town in Florida was known as 'Nub-City', due to the high number of people who would volunteer to cut off their own limbs as a way to collect insurance money. Originally, this was what Morris set 'Vernon, Florida' to be about, but the citizens weren't too happy about it and began to threaten his life and eventually ran him out of town. A little while later, he came back to the town and focused on the many different and eclectic people who lived in this small community.

It's a genuine, funny, yet oddly charming look at life in a small town. Morris really engraved his name in the annals of filmmaking with these two brilliant films and made an impact on the movie industry and his colleagues that would further his career for many years to come.

BD50 + 2xDVD | 1080p AVC, NTSC | 01:22:40 + 00:55:46 | 44 Gb + 11.76 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Genre: Documentary, Comedy, Drama

• Two new interviews with Morris (19:19, 12:08)
• Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980 - 20:17), a twenty-minute film by Les Blank featuring Herzog fulfilling a bet intended to inspire Morris to complete his first feature