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Gates of Heaven

  NR Closed Captioning

Errol Morris

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About the Movie

Hailed by Roger Ebert as one of the 10 greatest films ever made, Academy Award winner Errol Morris (The Fog of War, The Thin Blue Line) turns his focus to a unique subject matter, pet cemeteries, their inhabitants, and the world of pet owners. When the Foothill Memorial Gardens pet cemetery, located north of San Francisco, closed (its land was sold for a housing project), the 450 animals interred there had to be moved to Bubbling Well Memorial Park in nearby Napa. Morris saw the transfer as an opportunity to explore the world of pet owners who are so devoted that they see nothing odd about giving their animals a full dose of the last rites. His simple technique was to film his subjects, usually seated, talking about their loved ones, alternating with shots of the two cemeteries and the move. This indie from IFC Films weaves an eccentric portrait of the American dream.


Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 17
  • Fresh: 16
  • Rotten: 1
  • Average Rating: 8.3/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: 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. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

A Unique Experience. Run, Don't Walk, to See this Movie.

I had a longer review written* but suffice it to say this is a rare movie experience that you should not miss. Roger Ebert called Gates of Heaven "a masterpiece" and "one of the ten best movies of all time." In a time before mockumentaries, the Ken Burns effect, and reality television, Errol Morris had begun to carve out a niche as an filmmaker who let his subjects do the storytelling, in stark bright lighting, talking directly into the camera, with plenty of audio-visual ambience to let those words sink in. If you don't think this is a brilliant work worthy of praise, then at least take the thought and effort to mock it. Its quirky style is not for everyone, but you will not soon forget this film, and in thinking more about it you will undoubtedly grow in appreciation of it. (It's normal; it has happened to everyone who has ever seen this film that I know of.) *[My previous session timed out after I spent over an hour writing a review for this movie. When I clicked "Preview" I got a screen that said my session had expired, without even a back arrow enabled so I could copy my text and resubmit it. That's pretty awful, Apple. A VERY poorly designed user experience.] {Addendum: My session timed out again although it was much shorter the second time. Ridiculous!]

Reality is stranger than fiction

Amazing movie. It is slow-paced, but when you realize these are real people and not actors, it makes it all the more interesting. The place exists—I've been there—truly surreal. I like the Erol Morris documentary style where the film maker stays out of the movie.

I tried to like it.......

Too much time spent on lonely people who talked endlessly about everything except their pets. In fact, there wasn't one memorable story about anybody's pet. No matter how bad a movie is, if I paid for it I'm going to watch it!! However, this is the first movie I couldn't finish. With the exception of maybe two people interviewed, they were just plain boring. Their stories had no beginning or end......just a bunch of ramblings from people that did nothing more for me except feel sorry for them. I'm sorry.....I just didn't get it. :(

Gates of Heaven
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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2005

Customer Ratings