Errol Morris

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DarkImbecile
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Errol Morris

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Aug 04, 2005 9:18 am

Errol Morris (1948 - )

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“Films are neither true nor false. That includes my films, as well as others. They may make claims that are true or false, but films are too complex. They have too many ingredients."

Filmography

Features
Gates of Heaven (1978)
Vernon, Florida (1981)
The Thin Blue Line (1988)
The Dark Wind [non-documentary] (1991)
A Brief History of Time (1991)
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997)
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999)
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
Standard Operating Procedure (2008)
Tabloid (2010)
The Unknown Known (2013)
The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography (2016)
Wormwood (2017)

Shorts
"Survivors" (2008)
"They Were There" (2011)
"The Umbrella Man" (2011)
"El Wingador" (2012)
"11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote?" (2012)
"November 22, 1963" (2013)
"Three Short Films About Peace"(2014)
"It's Not Crazy, It's Sports" (2015)
"Demon in the Freezer" (2016)

Television
Errol Morris Interrotron Stories: Digging Up the Past [Miniseries] (1995)
First Person (2000-2001)
- "Stairway to Heaven"
- "The Killer Inside Me"
- "I Dismember Mama"
- "The Stalker"
- "The Parrot"
- "Eyeball to Eyeball"
- "Smiling in a Jar"
- "In the Kingdom of the Unabomber"
- "Mr. Debt"
- "You're Soaking in It"
- "The Little Gray Man"
- "Josh Harris: Harvesting Me"
- "Chris Langan: The Smartest Man in the World"
- "Murray Richman: The Only Truth"
- "Rick Rosner: One in a Million Trillion"
- "Denny Fitch: Leaving the Earth"
- "Michael Stone: Mr. Personality"

Commercials

Producer Only
The Act of Killing (2012)
The Look of Silence (2014)
Uncle Nick (2015)
National Bird (2016)
P.O.V. [TV Series] (2014-2016)
The Lure (2016)

Books
Standard Operating Procedure [w/Philip Gourevitch] (2008)
Errol Morris: Interviews (2009)
Believing is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography) (2014)
A Wilderness of Error (2014)
The Ashtray (Or the Man Who Denied Reality) (2018)

Web Resources
ErrolMorris.com [Interviews, reviews, editorials, miscellaneous]
2018 interview with Chris O'Falt on Wormwood, Indiewire.com

Forum Discussion
699 A Brief History of Time
751-753 Gates of Heaven/Vernon, Florida & The Thin Blue Line
Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris, 2008)
Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2011)

J M Powell
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#2 Post by J M Powell » Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:37 am

Michael wrote:After being stunned by Errol Morris' recent films, I decided to buy the newly released dvds of his first two films - Gates of Heaven and Vernon, Florida. I settled down with those two films for the first time last night. Oh my god!

I started with Gates of Heaven and after ten minutes in, I thought it was kinda dull but when it moved on to the Napa valley, that was it. After getting through this impossibly fascinating, powerful little family saga, the folks that came into the film in the beginning became so much more than I initially thought.

The older brother's "self-help" monolugues were so riveting and painful at the same time. He almost looked possessed .. how tragically insecure that man was. With the polished trophies everywhere. I laughed at first and then became heartbroken. The younger, romantic brother blasting his music throughout the valley is absolutely a perfect moment.. actually the film is full of perfect moments.

Vernon, Florida is equally powerful and fascinating and beautiful. I don't think I will ever look at turkeys in the same way again. I can't wait to play that movie at my next Thanksgiving gathering.

Sitting outside in the humid night air after watching those films, I broke down crying.. I was deeply touched by everyone in those very mysterious, odd, and passionate films.

How could those two seemingly simple, little films turn out to be possibly the most poetic films ever made and so much bigger than life?
Because Morris learned from the master.

Martha
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#3 Post by Martha » Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:58 am

Speaking of Vernon, Florida, could someone please confirm for me that I didn't dream about the massive shout-out to that film in Kalifornia? Bradd Pitt? At a gas station? "Gobble gobble"? Please?

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Michael
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#4 Post by Michael » Thu Aug 04, 2005 11:26 am

In Kalifornia, just before Brad Pitt kills the gas station clerk, he asks the clerk where he is from. He responds "Vernon, Florida" and then he adds something about the turkeys. It's been years since I saw Kalifornia but for some reason, I remember this scene.

Martha
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#5 Post by Martha » Thu Aug 04, 2005 11:34 am

Thank you, Michael. No one else remembered the scene at all, and I was starting to think it was just some sort of weird dream.

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neuro
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#6 Post by neuro » Thu Aug 04, 2005 8:05 pm

I completely agree with you Michael; Morris always amazes me with how he manages to draw such poetry from nonfiction. His films seem to be somewhat of a democratic experience, specifically in the way in which he strives for a level of ambiguity, thus allowing the viewer to create their own organic experience out of the fact-based material. He seems to strive for gigantic themes with each work; I'm thinking specifically of Gates of Heaven, which, in the end, seems less like the story of a pet cemetery, and more like an essay on what it means to be alive.

However, the real revelation of this current batch of Morris' films on DVD was First Person, the only work of his I had yet to see. Each interview during the course of the series proves to be a sort of an miniaturized version of a person's personality, full of wonder and truth, while asking the same sort of universal questions Morris seems to strive for in his features. Hyperbolically speaking, it is very addictive, completely fascinating, and highly watchable; I recommend the episode "One in a Million Trillion" especially.

BTW, for those who haven't noticed, Rumsey has a great feature on Morris' films over at notcoming.com.

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Michael
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#7 Post by Michael » Fri Aug 05, 2005 9:18 am

Because Morris learned from the master.
So the master is Werner Herzog. Not surprising. Even though both are fiction, Stroszek and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser have the similiar emotion and effect as Morris' early films. The ending of Stroszek left me suspended in my chair for a good amount of time - with amazingly weird, "uncharted" emotions brewing everywhere inside me. Gates of Heaven did the same thing to me. I haven't seen Herzog's documentary films yet.

I wonder if Errol Morris learned a thing or two from the Maysles brothers, especially Grey Gardens. I watched this film for the 30th or 40th time last month and I still picked up new things.

The ending with Little Edie dancing with the camera set up behind the staircase peeking behind and between the spindles (bars?), like she's trapped dancing eternally inside that empty room - like an exotic bird in a birdcage. Grey Gardens ends sort of abruptly like Gates of Heaven and Vernon, Florida, leaving you suspended, wondering about those fascinating, mysterious, beautiful, amazing folks who might end up staying with you forever. Those films make me happy to be alive in this crazy world.

I've always been curious about what you folks think of Grey Gardens.

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emcflat
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#8 Post by emcflat » Fri Aug 05, 2005 1:49 pm

Now, if only Morris was as prolific as Herzog, then we'd have something..

I think this recent batch of releases owes more than a little to Roger Ebert. His "one of the 10 best films of all time" blurb displayed prominently on the box cover of "Gates" is a nice way to guarantee a few extra units sold. That and Morris' Oscar win, I suppose, did the trick finally.

Favorite episode of First Person so far is "The Killer Inside Me." Really chilling and gripping. (I'm about 1/2 way through the set)

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Michael
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#9 Post by Michael » Fri Aug 05, 2005 1:56 pm

I'm debating whether to buy the First Person series or not. Don't get me wrong... I do like his later works (Mr. Death and The Fog of War to name a couple) but I prefer his first two films a lot more. There is something about those films that is missing in his later films and I still can't figure out what it is. I wonder if First Person leans to his early works more than his later ones.

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antnield
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#10 Post by antnield » Fri Aug 05, 2005 2:00 pm

Michael wrote:I wonder if First Person leans to his early works more than his later ones.
It's far closer to 'Dr. Death' and 'The Fog of War' - similar use of archive footage and talking heads.

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zut
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#11 Post by zut » Fri Aug 05, 2005 2:02 pm

Michael wrote:I started with Gates of Heaven and after ten minutes in, I thought it was kinda dull but when it moved on to the Napa valley, that was it.
Napa Saves!

Sorry, I have nothing but pride to add to this conversation.

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Floyd
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#12 Post by Floyd » Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:28 am

If you cry as much as you say you do you really have my oversensitive mother beat (just kidding). I am really needing to get these Morris films as I have read quite a bit about them now including how David Gordon Green spent most of his life as he said, "jerking off to Gates of Heaven." I think that is as good as a recommendation as you can get. I saw Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control and wasn't that thrilled but certainly was interested by his documentary style. According to everything these films are him at his peak and sound to be amazing, unfortunately all my bucks recently went to the Eraserhead davidlynch.com box.

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Michael
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#13 Post by Michael » Sun Aug 07, 2005 1:39 pm

If you cry as much as you say you do you really have my oversensitive mother beat (just kidding).
I know you're kidding. The usual "tear jerkers" like Terms of Endearment don't make me cry. It's strange, unexpectedly moving and compassionate films like Gates of Heaven that get to me profoundly. This film surprised and overwhelmed me with its poetry like a mixture of Faulkner and Sexton (and a bit of Steinbeck) and how it managed to turn those very common, middle class folks into incredibly extraordinary and sublime characters. Everyone's story becomes the story of us. The total unexpectation of the film's organic beauty threw me off and simply overwhelmed me. Long after the film ended, the voices still stay with me. So do the simple but piercing images. How could anyone forget the "wallpaper" of prickly pear cacti or the plastic animals? Or the final scene so silencing and bleak that it cut right through to the heart?

I watched Gates of Heaven and Vernon, Florida again over the weekend. I love Vernon, Florida as much but it doesn't feel as complete as Gates of Heaven. This film will get you quoting nonstop.. for instance, my friend started a small talk about God this morning, I used "Just Happens" in the place of God and yesterday, Pedro and I took a long walk in the woods and listened to all kinds of birds.. I kept saying "was that the double gobble?" We cracked up. Oh Just Happens, do turkeys with 11-inch beards really exist?

Even though the film ends so perfectly on the canoe, Vernon, Florida is unfortunately too short.

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rumz
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#14 Post by rumz » Sun Aug 07, 2005 10:59 pm

Firstly, it's great to see enthusiasm for these films, each of which is among my favorites.
Floyd wrote:David Gordon Green spent most of his life as he said, "jerking off to Gates of Heaven."
Where did you read/hear this? Of everything I've read or heard about "Gates of Heaven," this quote most succinctly describes my own affinity for this film. But not, you know, literally and stuff.
Michael wrote:Even though the film ends so perfectly on the canoe, Vernon, Florida is unfortunately too short.
Agreed, also with the tangible effectiveness of "Gates'" final scene (which floors me every time I see it). As for its length, the biography behind Morris' making of this film is, although mystified, nearly as interesting as the film itself. One anecdote involves Morris getting his ass kicked by one of the Floridians. Food for thought.

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Floyd
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#15 Post by Floyd » Mon Aug 08, 2005 1:44 am

rumz, he actually appears to say both Vernon, Florida and Gates of Heaven.

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Michael
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#16 Post by Michael » Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:02 am

rumz, Thanks for the link. Truly fascinating.

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oldsheperd
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#17 Post by oldsheperd » Mon Aug 08, 2005 11:53 am

I'd totally recommend Fast, Cheap and Out of Control also. I got the first person series with the docs box at the same time. I watched all the First Persons in almost one sitting. The one about the airplane crash is completely engrossing.

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zedz
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#18 Post by zedz » Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:14 am

How has this thread got so far without mentioning The Thin Blue Line? For my money, that's hands down Morris' best film (and I'm a big fan of all of his work), and one of the greatest American films of the last thirty years. It not only changed the face of documentary film (for better or worse); it saved a life. Just thinking about the climactic shot of Morris' little tape recorder gives me goosebumps.

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Mr Pixies
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#19 Post by Mr Pixies » Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:40 am

I saw Vernon, Florida recently. Everyone was boring, and a lot of it I could hardly hear. I thought I had read a lot of good things about it, so i was a little let down in just being bored to death by it. I read that it was about these eccentric people, where were they? Just normal, boring people.

I saw the Fog of War, and Mr. Death, both are fascinating, more so Mr. Death, which even got me thinking of the possibility that the Holocaust was fake.

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Oedipax
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#20 Post by Oedipax » Tue Aug 09, 2005 1:42 am

Mr Pixies wrote:I saw the Fog of War, and Mr. Death, both are fascinating, more so Mr. Death, which even got me thinking of the possibility that the Holocaust was fake.
:shock:

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Michael
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#21 Post by Michael » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:26 am

I saw Vernon, Florida recently. Everyone was boring, and a lot of it I could hardly hear. I thought I had read a lot of good things about it, so i was a little let down in just being bored to death by it. I read that it was about these eccentric people, where were they? Just normal, boring people.
Huh? What were you expecting? A freak show? The way I see the folks in Vernon, Florida, they are simply real and human. What I love most about those folks is their obsessions, their passion for whatever they love or believe in. Nothing could move me more than watching them giving the best of themselves, being themselves that is whether I agree with them or not. That guy can talk about turkeys 24/7. No different than me and possibly you with our obsession with films. I wouldn't like Vernon, Florida if Errol Morris filmed those folks mainly because they were eccentric but it's obvious that he had something else in mind.

Have you seen Gates of Heaven yet?

Martha
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#22 Post by Martha » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:40 am

Mr Pixies wrote:I saw the Fog of War, and Mr. Death, both are fascinating, more so Mr. Death, which even got me thinking of the possibility that the Holocaust was fake.
Sure. Because Leuchter's evidence was so scientifically sound and everything.

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Mr Pixies
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#23 Post by Mr Pixies » Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:11 pm

Martha wrote:
Mr Pixies wrote:I saw the Fog of War, and Mr. Death, both are fascinating, more so Mr. Death, which even got me thinking of the possibility that the Holocaust was fake.
Sure. Because Leuchter's evidence was so scientifically sound and everything.
I didn't say I agreed with Leuchter and that I was going to write a book about it myself, I just thought of the possibility, nothing wrong with that.
Michael wrote:Huh? What were you expecting? A freak show?
No, I was expecting a bunch of old men sitting on a bench enthusuastically talking about their past, I'm not sure why.
Michael wrote:The way I see the folks in Vernon, Florida, they are simply real and human. What I love most about those folks is their obsessions, their passion for whatever they love or believe in. Nothing could move me more than watching them giving the best of themselves, being themselves that is whether I agree with them or not. That guy can talk about turkeys 24/7. No different than me and possibly you with our obsession with films. I wouldn't like Vernon, Florida if Errol Morris filmed those folks mainly because they were eccentric but it's obvious that he had something else in mind.
Yeah I get that, I just didn't enjoy it, I'll try and see it again a long time from now, and see what I get from it then. I don't really believe that these guys were eccentric though, if the point is to show that we are all eccentric, sure, but it doesn't feel like a revelation.
Have you seen Gates of Heaven yet?
Not yet, but i did just see the Thin Blue Line, which was great. Without the reanactment stuff and the great score, it still would have been amazing. There didn't seem to be anything on the dvd that talked about the case being re-opened and the one man eventually being set free.

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Michael
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#24 Post by Michael » Sat Sep 23, 2006 4:24 pm

I just got home from a week long visit to mom in northern California. Last Tuesday, I drove to Napa (Atlas Point to be more specific) about 20 minutes from mom's home. Right at the top of a mountain, the Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park (of Gates of Heaven) stands in heart-stopping silence. Plastic flowers and ceramic animals in bursting colors lay atop tombstones throughout. Deers roam everywhere. My partner and I were the only humans there and we took pictures of numerous tombstones with sweet portraits of beloved dogs and cats printed on them. We also learned that Cal Harberts, the founder of the cemetery (who gave a strong presence in Gates of Heaven), passed away five years ago. The film ends with a shot of the two pillars with a message hanging between them, looking like a gate without the doors. The "gate" still stands there facing a jawdropping view of the valley.

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emcflat
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#25 Post by emcflat » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:30 pm

With Standard Operating Procedure now on it's way, and his Oscar win (theoretically) proving his marketability, the absence of A Brief History of Time on DVD (Reg. 1) grows ever more conspicuous..

Any takers for some good ol' random speculation??

It's also the only Morris I can think of with a bona fide built in bonus feature (or maybe two?) floating around. I believe the former was included on the VHS, which was Paramount, BTW.

C'mon, it could happen.. right?

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