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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gates of Heaven Pet Funeral Documentary

There are plenty of people who love their pets dearly. Some love their pets more than anything on Earth.  Their pets mean more to them than even some of their close relatives.  Some people will do anything for the animals they own.

"Gates of Heaven" is a documentary film that focuses on the Pet funeral business in California.  It was made in the 1970's and true to filmmaker Errol Morris' form, centers around a real-life cast of people with diverse and overwhelming personalities.

There is no narration. The film is driven largely by the dialog of the people being interviewed.  The cast includes the owner of a failed pet cemetary, the father and sons of a successful pet cemetary, an operator of a dead animal processing center (they make fuel or dogfood or  something from animal remains) and a bunch pet owners.

Who knows what is going on in this film?  It's pretty open for interpretation.  Sure you learn a bit about the business of disposing of dead animals but the movie feels as though it gets off-track, perhaps intentionally way-off track at times, and loses itself in the personalities of its characters.

The characters are certainly all west coast USA, white, affluent types but they are a motley bunch.  At times their viewpoints are hilarious, deeply personal, informative and, just as often, pathetic.  This zany bunch makes the film feel like a dead-pan parody of the pet funeral business but this film is not a parody at all.  It is quite serious and that is what makes it all the more interesting.

Documentary buffs out there, Errol Morris wrote this film. If you have never seen an Errol Morris film, this one would be a good one to start with just to get your feet wet.  You might hate it, you might love it,  but his style of letting the movie unfold on its own through individual monologues from each of the cast sometimes makes me wonder if the whole world is goofy or if he is just turning the mirror on ourselves?  I tend to believe both.

Here's another Movie Review on Best Movie Reviews By TurtleDog

After you see this Liam Neeson wolf movie, you'll wish there were more pet funerals, at least up in Alaska.  Check out my review of Liam Neeson and his 'wolf' movie The Grey

Like Al Pacino? See him  in a terrific Heathcoat Williams play turned movie called Local Stigmatic on DVD


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