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Gates of Heaven

Posted on the 14 April 2011 by Kaiser31083 @andythemovieguy
Gates of HeavenErrol Morris has made a career out of documenting eccentrics, and it all began with this little film in 1978. Here Morris interviews people who are involved with pet cemeteries in Napa, California. We meet such people like Floyd McClure who was so stricken when his collie died, that he decided to devote his life to creating a respectable place to bury their beloved pets. We also meet the local manager of the rendering plant or "the glue factory" as McClure refers to it with great contempt, although the manager is a realist and presents a reasonable argument for his business while also offering a slight criticism of Americans regarding their pet priorities. Others show up including people who have their pets buried there, who describe their shock when McClure lost the land due to poor foresight and decided to move all of the interred pets to another plot! We also meet the proprietors of another similar burial ground, as well as their sons who didn't plan on a life doing what their doing. Gates of Heaven was hailed by many as a bonafide masterpiece by some, while I like to view it as a great start for a master filmmaker who was just beginning to hone his craft. It doesn't quite have the immediacy of his latter films, which are aided by his Interrotron and their Philip Glass scores. I also didn't understand why so much of this short film was devoted to the two sons, one constantly babbling on about business models while surrounding himself with pointless trophies. Still, this is an intriguing film by a director who immediately had an eye for the odd.

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