The Errol Morris DVD Collection

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Errol Morris began his career in 1978 when he dropped out of the University of California, Berkeley, and began filming Gates of Heaven in the Bay Area. That film and his second, Vernon, Florida, were humorous portraits of idiosyncratic, small-town Americans, along the same lines as American Movie but more academic. Morris refrains from debasing his subjects or resorting to, say, eschatological debate with pet-cemetery workers; he’s a provocateur but never an exploiter. A case in point: The jailhouse confession at the conclusion of The Thin Blue Line eventually led to the real-life retrial and acquittal of a wrongly convicted death-row inmate in Texas. Sure, that’s not quite John Kerry winning the presidency, but then one of the pleasures of Morris’ films is that he never has an agenda to sell, polemical or otherwise.