Errol Morris

"Morris’s work is unfettered by slavish adherence to current documentary conventions. He does not appear in his films, but his presence is felt in their structure and style… Morris brings a new vigor and a new insight to documentary filmmaking by playing with conventions and experimenting with new forms of representation." - Elizabeth Cline (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 2000)

Errol Morris

Director / Producer / Screenwriter
(1948- ) Born February 5, Hewlett, Long Island, New York, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Documentary, Biography, Culture & Society, Politics & Government, History, Law & Crime, Military & War
Key Collaborators: Ted Bafaloukos (Production Designer), Robert Chappell (Cinematographer), Karen Schmeer (Editor), Philip Glass (Composer), Michael Williams (Producer), Mark Lipson (Producer), Julie Ahlberg (Producer), Stefan Czapsky (Cinematographer), Peter Donahue (Cinematographer), Ned Burgess (Cinematographer), Brad Fuller (Editor), Caleb Sampson (Composer)

"Morris has described himself as a new kind of hyphenate, a director-detective, and has carved out a niche for himself by telling the stories of unique individuals in his distinctive voice." - The Hollywood.com Guide to Film Directors, 2004
"Not uncommonly, Errol Morris is interested in people like himself—in obsessives, trying to negotiate the intractable difficulties of life and the widespread yet indifferent misunderstanding of others. In some ways, his world is a little like that of Hal Hartley, but Morris is so much more vividly intelligent, and his sense of inquiry does so much to animate the style and structure of his work. No, really, the best comparison is with Chris Marker—though Morris lacks, as yet, the great man’s Borgesian serenity. Maybe that comes with time. And maybe when it does come it dispels the faintly aggressive air of intelligence for its own sake—the risk of smugness—that sometimes makes Morris seem an exploiter of his own raw material." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2010)
"Morris is no conventional documentarist. His first films - Gates of Heaven, about pet cemeteries, and Vernon, Florida, about small town eccentrics - were wry but never patronising studies in obsession; his genuine curiosity was embodies by a static camera trained at length on subjects speaking directly to camera… His readiness to listen to, and recreate on film, his subjects' ideas about life, ensures that his work achieves a truth peculiar to itself." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"Morris brought strains of ironic comedy to the documentary format, an innovation that would inform the work of nonfiction filmmakers such as Michael Moore and Chris Smith… Appropriately for a former philosophy student who once paid the rent as a private investigator, Morris has consistently produced work that poses questions about the very limits of knowledge and self-knowledge. " - Jessica Winter (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
“Innovative documentary filmmaker who made two off-beat, critically acclaimed studies (1978's Gates of Heaven, about pet cemeteries, and 1981's Vernon, Florida, about small-town American eccentrics) before achieving his breakthrough with the feature-length The Thin Blue Line (1988).” - The Virgin International Encyclopedia of Film, 1992
"Errol Morris straddles the wide divide between nonfiction approaches and fictional technique. Not a documentary maker content to avoid manipulating his subject, but still journalistic enough to develop stories from fact and not fantasy, he is also a respected commercial director, having produced dozens of ads for companies such as Apple Computer, Miller Brewing Company, and Sharp Corporation." - Garrett Chaffin-Quiray (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"Errol Morris is an Oscar winning filmmaker who has been making documentaries for over thirty-five years, and is one of the few documentarian directors that casual moviegoers can name. Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Morris studied history and philosophy in college before moving to filmmaking. The subjects of his documentary films have ranged from specific oddities to broad geopolitical topics like the Vietnam War. Morris’s films typically rely very little on narration, instead using interviews to propel his narratives." - Jack Picone (New York Film Academy, 2015)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
The Thin Blue Line (1988) , The Fog of War (2003)
Worth a Look
Gates of Heaven (1978), Vernon, Florida (1981), A Brief History of Time (1992), Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997), Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999), Tabloid (2010)
Approach with Caution
The Unknown Known (2013)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Errol Morris / Favourite Films
Billy Madison (1995) Tamra Davis, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Stanley Kubrick, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) Sergio Leone, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) Leo McCarey.
Source: Newsweek (2008)
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