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Errol Morris Clip Festival
July 2, 2007 4:00 AM   Subscribe

A Brief History of Errol Morris. His landmark televison interview/documentary series called "First Person" (ex. Rick Rosner : One in a Million Trillion [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], an interview with a man who went back to high school three times just to try to get it right; Denny Fitch : Leaving the Earth [2, 3, 4, 5, 6], where a pilot tells a harrowing tale of his passenger plane crash; and Andrew Cappocia : Mr. Debt [2 , 3], an interview with a passionate man about credit card reform.) ... see also: Fog of War [excerpt], an award winning full-length feature about Robert McNamara, US Director of Defense during the Viet Nam War; as well as some very compelling commercials [2,3, 4, 5] that you may remember, and an interview with the man himself. (Previously)
posted by Dave Faris (30 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nov '03 thread about The Fog of War
posted by matteo at 4:05 AM on July 2, 2007


He looks younger than I thought.
posted by zardoz at 4:11 AM on July 2, 2007


I personally couldn't stand watching most of "First Person." Morris's use of public-domain footage as unnecessary B-roll, along with the obnoxious music, just distracted from the potentially interesting interview subjects.

However, the episode "One in a Million Trillion" with Rick Rosner was fantastic. I recommend renting/borrowing the "First Person" DVD just to watch it.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:14 AM on July 2, 2007


You know. I think I mislabled the first set of clips --- the Chris Langen is actually the One in a Million Trillion.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:16 AM on July 2, 2007


Ditto on Rick Rosner, rxrfrx. I've showed that to a number of people and it's entertaining just to watch their reaction.

And although the 'Mr. Debt' episode was intersting, too, it seems Mr. Debt got himself into a little trouble.
posted by sexymofo at 4:39 AM on July 2, 2007


Heidi? Ellen, shurely?

Also: while learning American watching PBS, I was so struck by his "Vernon, Florida" that I had my parents ask them for the transcript.

Actually, my favourite Errol Morris film is neither by nor with him: "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe."
posted by progosk at 4:41 AM on July 2, 2007


woops. fixed that one for me.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:43 AM on July 2, 2007


oops - Fleiss ≠ Feiss
posted by progosk at 4:49 AM on July 2, 2007


"Thin Blue Line" is still my favorite non-Herzog documentary. The interviews Morris wrings out of those people, just unbelievable.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:59 AM on July 2, 2007


Morris lovers MUST check out Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, a delightfully kooky documentary that somehow manages to tie the theme of men and their obsessions together through portraits of a lion tamer, a topiary gardener, a mole rat scientist, and a robotics engineer. Great fun.
posted by i less than three nsima at 5:02 AM on July 2, 2007


This man is a genius....a year or so ago I showed my wife "Vernon, FL." She had never seen anything of his, and was entranced and freaked out. Great post!
posted by nevercalm at 6:28 AM on July 2, 2007


There's something about The Thin Blue Line not winning an oscar because it couldn't even be considered because it was used in a court case instrumental to freeing an innocent man that's just plain awesome.

Unlike my sentence structure.

The Thin Blue Line is probably one of my favorite documentaries, right up there with Bus 174.
posted by ztdavis at 6:41 AM on July 2, 2007


Best living filmmaker, for my money.
posted by stammer at 6:56 AM on July 2, 2007


The Rick Rosner interview is amazing. It's easy to get stuck on assessing one's life by measurable but pointless outcomes, but I've never seen anyone who's taken it that far before. I mean, I had a miserable time as a high school student, too, but for me that meant it was time to move on when I got done. It would never have occurred to me to attempt to do it over until the age of 26.
posted by Coventry at 7:05 AM on July 2, 2007


The first-linked video was made by Kevin MacDonald. Interesting how Morris is leaning out of camera the whole time (definitely no interrotron used here).
posted by progosk at 7:06 AM on July 2, 2007


Morris lovers MUST check out Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

And "Mr. Death." And I loved the "First Person" stuff I saw; the Temple Grandin piece unfolded in a beautiful way, and the one about the guy who corresponded with the Unabomber was brilliantly creepy.
posted by mediareport at 7:25 AM on July 2, 2007


I've watched Fast, Cheap and Out of Control so many times I have it just about memorized (I show it to my students and ask them how it addresses our search for meaning).

Short answer: through carefully considered and edited juxtaposition of sound and image. Example: "That's an amazing thing for a mammal to do," spoken by the naked mole rat specialist, while we see a circus woman twirl around in the air.

That's part of the "how." As far as the "what"...what is the meaning in and the future of our existence...well, hints are given, questions and possibilities tossed out, ultimately leaving the meaning-making up to the viewer. As it is in life.
posted by kozad at 7:32 AM on July 2, 2007


Oh, and thanks for the links. I haven't sen any of this yet!
posted by kozad at 7:33 AM on July 2, 2007


And let's not forget the man's own webpage, where you can check out much more Morris-y goodness.

He's a phenomenal documentarian. One of the best there's ever been.
posted by MythMaker at 7:56 AM on July 2, 2007


this errol morris high life ad is one of the best 30-second commercials I've ever seen. The fact that he manages to insert a political statement so nicely into an ad for beer is pretty amazing. The guy on the bike rules, too.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:02 AM on July 2, 2007


gates of heaven (the film that allowed him to win the bet so that werner herzog did, indeed, have to eat his shoe) is a truly fantastic though thoroughly underrated film.
posted by hecho de la basura at 8:06 AM on July 2, 2007


There's something about The Thin Blue Line not winning an oscar because it couldn't even be considered because it was used in a court case instrumental to freeing an innocent man that's just plain awesome.

My understanding was that it was disqualified from the documentary category because of its heavy use of reenactments, which on its own merits makes no sense whatsoever - but when you consider that Watkins' The War Game won Best Documentary in 1966 despite being completely fictional, the decision actually makes negative sense.
posted by stammer at 8:25 AM on July 2, 2007


hecho de la basura writes "gates of heaven (the film that allowed him to win the bet so that werner herzog did, indeed, have to eat his shoe) is a truly fantastic though thoroughly underrated film."

So is Vernon, Florida.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:43 AM on July 2, 2007


I remember seeing a bit of footage that had been cut out of 'Gates of Heaven' which made one of the interviewees (a particularly noxious yuppie type) look extremely stupid. The yuppie was yammering on and on about his trophies and awards on his wall, and then one of the awards just falls off and smashes on the ground. I think most directors would have kept the clip in (and I'm not just thinking Michael Moore here) to humiliate the bastard. But Morris cut it out and allowed the guy some dignity. That, in my book, is pretty fucking cool.
posted by Football Bat at 9:49 AM on July 2, 2007


Those Miller High Life ads are great. There's a whole bunch of them at his website. Have any of these ads ever aired on TV?
posted by jefbla at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2007


Football Bat writes "I remember seeing a bit of footage that had been cut out of 'Gates of Heaven' which made one of the interviewees (a particularly noxious yuppie type) look extremely stupid. The yuppie was yammering on and on about his trophies and awards on his wall, and then one of the awards just falls off and smashes on the ground."

That must have been the more business-oriented brother. The other one liked to get high and play his guitar, with his amp cranked, overlooking Palo Alto.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:10 AM on July 2, 2007


Yeah, at least some have been on TV. I saw them on that website, and described them at work. One of my coworkers recalled seeing a couple on TV.
posted by Coventry at 10:11 AM on July 2, 2007


What a coincidence. I watched the primary link last night and made a point of NetFlix-ing some of his work.

I thought "Fog of War" was very well done (makes me want to lock that rat-bastard McNamara up).

A very diverse filmography.
posted by rougy at 3:24 PM on July 2, 2007


The Miller Light campaign that Morris directed ran maybe five years ago. At the time, they were on TV a lot.

My favorites is Vernon, Florida. Amazing film, and hilarious, too.
posted by YoungAmerican at 4:17 PM on July 2, 2007


totally random anecdote - a couple years ago, i was having a conversation with a friend and he made a remark about wishing he could go back and try high school again. that made me remember the rick rosner episode of "first person," so i popped my dvd in.

watching it again, i thought "i see this guy at the gym all the time." next time i saw him, i introduced myself and sure enough, it was him. he's a really nice guy.
posted by fac21 at 5:51 PM on July 3, 2007


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