Gates of Heaven (1980)
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Critic Reviews for Gates of Heaven
What is missing is the mediation of an artistic sensibility.
They say you can make a great documentary about almost anything, if only you see it well enough and truly, and this film proves it.
Morris presents the interviews without adornment or commentary, letting the plainspoken words create an almost surreal quality; audiences weren't sure if Morris was being sincere or satirical.
Here is a quirky talented filmmaker at work who will one day turn up with something more satisfying than this movie.
Trying to decode what it is about Errol Morris's best work is a thorny proposition. -
Audience Reviews for Gates of Heaven
A simple film that proves you can make a documentary about just about anything, and even if Morris doesn't seem that eager to tell us any of this, he finds a strange beauty in the mundane, especially as he shows us how someone's dream curiously became someone else's family business.
An original documentary that takes aim at a pet cemetery and the day-to-day operations that go on as well as the strange people that run the place. While occasionally boring and irrefutably slow-moving, there is no denying the well-rounded, subtle slam and quiet mocking of these weird, weird people who took their pets' lives way to seriously and need to get back to reality ASAP. What makes this thing worthwhile is the people being filmed, who think this is a totally straight, serious documentary that they are being apart of, not knowing for an instant that the ridiculous things they say and how they act (everybody wants to punch the "motivation" guy, no one will deny that) are going to be turned against them. It sounds rather cruel, but director Errol Morris never cuts in or makes any obvious finger-pointing accusations or is seen laughing behind the camera - he lets the people do the talking, and the result is something both at times uproarious while at other times just very, very sad. Definitely a unique film, one that does tend to plod along, but it is still worth a view just due to Morris's ability to dig out all the weirdness from a piece of California.
I don't get what the hype is all about. I found the story about the making of the documentary WAY more interesting than the documentary itself.
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