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The Errol Morris DVD Collection

The first three documentaries of gifted documentarian Errol Morris ("The Fog Of War") foreshadow the esoteric brilliance of his impressive career. "Gates Of Heaven" (1978) was made after a bet with director Werner Herzog about whether Morris could make a documentary about a pet cemetery. Herzog lost the bet and literally ate his shoe in payment. Johnny Knoxville has called "Vernon, Florida" (1981) one of his two favorite movies (the other is "A Face In The Crowd") and this sincere look at the eccentric wildlife-obsessed residents of this backwater town will have you howling with laughter. But the piece de resistance of the collection is "The Thin Blue Line" (1988) which Morris made with the expressed reason of vindicating a man (Randall Dale Adams) wrongfully imprisoned on death row for the 1976 murder of a Texas police officer. With candid interview footage and elegant use of visual and musical motifs Morris weaves multiple points of view like a virtuoso storyteller. The film was instrumental in Randall Dale Adams' release from prison, at which Adams turned around and sued Errol Morris for buying the rights to his story. In the words of Morris' wife, "Just because Adams was a victim, doesn't mean he's not an asshole." Insufficient special features include English, French and Spanish subtitles and an episode of Morris' fascinating television series "First Person" about forensic psychiatrist and expert on evil Michael Stone. Aspect ratios and sound types are Full Screen with Mono ("Gates Of Heaven"), 1.66:1 Letterbox with Mono ("Vernon, Florida") and 1.85:1 Widescreen with Stereo Surround ("The Thin Blue Line").  (Movies - Four Stars, DVD features - One Star) Not Rated, 241 mins. (MGM)

September 25, 2005 | Permalink