Gates of Heaven

Gates of Heaven

Vernon, Florida : Two Films by Errol Morris

DVD - 2015
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Errol Morris changed the face of documentary filmmaking in the US, and his career began with two remarkable tales of American eccentricity: Gates of heaven uses two Southern California pet cemeteries as the bases for a profound and funny rumination on love, loss, and industry; Vernon, Florida travels to a languorous southern backwater and meets a handful of fascinating folks; a determined turkey hunter, a curious minister, a laconic policeman, engaged in individualistic, sometimes absurd pursuits.
Publisher: [Irvington, NY] : The Criterion Collection, [2015]
Edition: Director-approved two-DVD special edition
ISBN: 9781604659696
Branch Call Number: DVD 636.0887 GATES 2DISCS
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (139 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
DVD video,4 3/4 in
digital,optical,mono,Dolby Digital 1.0
laser optical,NTSC
video file,DVD video,region 1


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Early Errol Morris documentaries, worth checking out, not only as an example of how different documentary film used to be -- far more dependent on oral history -- but also how different consciousness was. We are much more scattered nowadays. These stories -- one about a pet cemetery; the other, a weird town in the Florida panhandle -- illustrate how much more grounded and basic our understanding used to be. What's changed? It has to be the proliferation of electronic media.

Oct 20, 2017

I discovered this rare film when watching "Life Itself" about Roger Ebert's life. He labeled it as one of the ten best films of all time. I am not sure it I agree with his rating, but it is certainly a rare and interesting documentary. It is not so much about pets as it is about pet owners and their eccentric personalities. If you want to watch a film that is funny and, in some odd way, moving, I recommend it. I feel that in some odd way my life has been enriched by watching it.

Nov 10, 2016

Errol Morris is a people person, above all else. This is a story about two groups of people who both saw a need for a pet cemetery - one group failed (lack of a business plan/sense) and the other was successful. We also hear from pet owners and from someone who has an animal 'rendering' business (his amazement at those who find his line of work distasteful is quite funny). If you're looking for an examination/analysis of the pet burial industry, you won't find it here. Morris is happy to let the people talk and his audience draw their own conclusions. On that basis, it is a quaintly interesting piece of work but it would've been nice to find out something below the surface.

Aug 17, 2015

The Gates of Heaven is about pioneers of pet cemetery, circa 1978 in San Francisco Bay Area (Los Altos, Petaluma and Napa, not Southern California as noted in Summary). Movie gurus (IMDb, Rottentomatoes and Rogerebert) gave it raving 4 and 5 stars. The pet owners featured could teach us a thing or two on humanity and love. Vernon is a collection of eccentric residents in the tiny Florida town in 1981. Again, Rottentomatoes gave it the maximum 5 star rating. From the bonus interview with Morris: originally titled "Nub City," was about the inhabitants of a small Florida town who lop off their limbs for insurance money ("They literally became a fraction of themselves to become whole financially," Morris commented.) but had to be retooled when his subjects threatened to murder him.

Jun 22, 2015

At times hilarious, this film is sympathetic without being sentimental; a bit odd, but enjoyable and re-watchable.

May 13, 2015

Thank you Criterion Collection for re-releasing these 2 early docs. from Errol Morris. He is interviewed last year and talks about how "Vernon, Florida" was really kind of by accident. Vernon is between Pensacola and Tallahassee. It's short and sweet. 50min. One of the most entertaining docs. I've ever seen. It's one that can be watched many times over.

Jan 22, 2015

An early documentary by Errol Morris covering the founding of the “Bubbling Well Memorial Park and Cemetery for Animals” in Napa, California. Presented as a series of ongoing monologues in which grieving owners and dead animal entrepreneurs alike tell their stories to an unseen interviewer. The results are sometimes amusing, sometimes sobering, and sometimes downright baffling. Much of Morris’ signature style is evident here...the clever editing, the static camera that catches every subtle gesture, and an unobtrusive, non-judgmental approach that puts his subjects at ease and loosens their tongues. What the film lacks though is the focus that is so evident in his later films. There are several instances where people go off on tangents, like the two old dog owners having a catfight, or the grandmother grumbling about her ungrateful grandson and his sluttish ex-wife. Furthermore many of the talking heads are just plain boring and add very little to the film’s narrative. An interesting little oddity, but certainly not in the same league as “The Thin Blue Line” or “The Fog of War”.

Apr 12, 2014

This is a 1978 83-minute documentary about success and failure in the animal-cemetery business.
When financial hardship forces California's Foothill Pet Cemetery to close its pearly gates,
its dearly departed loved ones are relocated to the nearby Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park.
During this tense transition, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris meets a collection of eccentric cemetery operators
and anguished animal lovers and elicits a meditation on love and lonliness that is strange yet appallingly funny.

Sep 25, 2010

I've never seen a film like this - it's a documentary, and you couldn't write a story as strange and compelling as this one about a pet cemetery that goes broke and the animals are relocated.

Feb 17, 2010

Very amateurish but interesting. You don't see much out there on this type of subject matter, so some information is better than none. I definitely learned a thing or two here.


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