First person
February 10, 2012 1:25 PM   Subscribe

First Person was a TV series that ran during 2000 and 2001 featuring interviews conducted by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris using his (patent pending) Interrotron. Episodes included an exploration of the mind of an expert on cattle slaughter techniques, the story of a parrot who may have witnessed a murder, a professional high school student, a serial killer groupie, and other strange and eccentric people. (Previously: The smartest man in the world.)
posted by twoleftfeet (14 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love this show and I love Errol Morris. It might be noted that the professional high school student also spent years trying to prove to Who Wants to be a Millionaire that the question he lost on was flawed (which it clearly was in several ways). The subject of which came up in a recent AskMe.
posted by cmoj at 1:33 PM on February 10, 2012


It might be noted that the professional high school student also spent years trying to prove to Who Wants to be a Millionaire that the question he lost on was flawed (which it clearly was in several ways).

This one is FUCKING AMAZING. The Temple Grandin one is great too. But the professional high school student one is the jewel in the crown of this series.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:53 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love anything having to do with Temple Grandin. The Claire DAnes movie, the Oliver Sacks essay about her, this Errol Morris thing. Anything
posted by holdkris99 at 1:54 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


The entire run is available on DVD and well worth it. One of the other highlights is the two episode-length interview with Dennis "Denny" Fitch, an instructor pilot who helped pilot United Airlines Flight 232 in an emergency landing at Sioux Gateway Airport.

Morris's video op-eds at the New York Times have been spiritual successors. Most recently, he interviewed competitive eating champion "El Wingador" about his career in gluttony (previously).
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:01 PM on February 10, 2012


When I saw the episode "Mr. Debt" several years ago (well after it aired), I liked it a lot, but I had the feeling I was watching a conman who was probably in prison by now. Turned out I was right.

It does make me wonder what Morris' intention was in presenting Cappocia in such a way that he gets to spin his own heroic narrative about himself without any crosstalk or troublesome examination of what he was actually doing (i.e. bilking clients), whether Morris was actually swayed by the guy's rhetoric, or if he was just letting a slick huckster hang himself with his own words. But it seems like Cappocia was already pretty well understood to have been shady, so it seems unlikely that Morris was being naive.
posted by anazgnos at 2:34 PM on February 10, 2012


Wow, this looks really interesting. I know what I'm watching this weekend. Thanks for posting.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:39 PM on February 10, 2012


It does make me wonder what Morris' intention was in presenting Cappocia in such a way that he gets to spin his own heroic narrative about himself without any crosstalk or troublesome examination of what he was actually doing (i.e. bilking clients), whether Morris was actually swayed by the guy's rhetoric, or if he was just letting a slick huckster hang himself with his own words.

The latter. Really, the interviews are primarily about these characters and not really any information they convey. A full length documentary by Morris, Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. follows this guy who, completely unqualified, became the de-facto expert on execution technology in the US, then took it upon himself to prove that the Nazi concentration camps could not have been used for mass executions, actually stealing pieces of the gas chambers to do so. Morris allows him to hang himself quite thoroughly. I'd recommend it as highly as everything else he's done.
posted by cmoj at 2:55 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mr. Death is defintely one of Morris's best films, probably his most disturbing, not merely because of the subject matter, but also because of the lengthy exposure to such a warped worldview. In an interview with Ron Rosenbaum, Morris discussed the unexpected cinematic Stockholm Syndrome that occurred with an early cut of the film that was nothing but interviews with Leuchter.
RR: But when you first showed the Leuchter film to an audience, I think you said, to a Harvard film class, they bought it, or half of them bought it, and the other half thought that you were a Holocaust-denier. So, you somehow felt the need to counter-balance that, to investigate and explode Fred's obvious fraudulent science that's still out there, right?

EM: Well, it shocked me. I guess it's little bit like the Stockholm syndrome. You're trapped in a room with this one man - namely, Leuchter. He's talking and talking and talking and talking. There is no one in the movie to grab you by the shoulders and say, "You know, this is, of course, nonsense."
Later cuts had to include interspersed interviews with experts debunking Holocaust deniers just so Leutcher didn't dominate the audience.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:13 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The entire concept is solid and well executed, but my favorite aspect is the liberal depiction of eyeballs in the opening sequence.

Also, seconding the recommendation for Mr. Death.
posted by compartment at 3:24 PM on February 10, 2012


[in] A full length documentary by Morris, Mr. Death...Morris allows him to hang himself quite thoroughly.

That's true and I think that the same technique is in play in both works, but the difference is that Mr. Death doesn't leave it all that ambiguous that Leuchter is a total crackpot, it doesn't withhold information relevant to that conclusion being reached. Whereas there's a lot information about Cappocia that would have been relevant, which isn't presented in that episode. Somebody could theoretically be persuaded by Cappocia if they didn't know anything else about him.

Although I just now realize that calling the episode "Mr. Debt" is a pun on "Mr. Death", and thus kind of a giveaway.
posted by anazgnos at 4:37 PM on February 10, 2012


Just so you know, Mutter Museum fans, Gretchen R.I.P. (Apologies - cannot find a link that works in preview.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:21 PM on February 10, 2012


Q: The Interrotron? Did you make up the name?

A: No, it was named by my wife, Julia Sheehan. She liked the name because it combined two important concepts — terror and interview.


I really liked Erroll Morris before reading this, but I am now officially ready to establish a cult in worship of his spouse. That's Morticia Addams-level humor.
posted by Graygorey at 8:40 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Errol Morris: The Thinking Man's Detective. The documentary filmmaker has become America's most surprising and provocative public intellectual
posted by homunculus at 9:19 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very interesting, I never would have thought he'd come down so hard-line against deconstructionism. If anything, his films demonstrate the power of personal reality tunnels. Like, Temple Gardin being able to put herself in a cow's shoes, or that guy becoming a perpetual high school student. Maybe he conflated objective truth and legal truth.

Also: MacDonald blamed the crime instead on a band of hippies—including a woman in a floppy hat and blond wig—whom he claimed he unsuccessfully fought off as they invaded his home chanting, “Kill the pigs!...Acid is groovy!”

lol what
posted by cmoj at 10:06 AM on February 23, 2012


« Older A student group has a novel idea to reduce college...  |  "Guardian 24/7 combines best-i... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments