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Gates of Heaven

Gates of Heaven

1978
Documentary
1h 25m
A documentary about a pet cemetary in California, and the people who have pets buried there. (imdb)
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Gates of Heaven

1978
Documentary
1h 25m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 62.66% from 471 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(471)
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Compact view
Rated 14 Aug 2007
40
11th
I love Errol Morris, but I need to suck it up and tell everyone that I really didn't like this movie.
Rated 20 Aug 2014
50
38th
Good interviewing/editing. Notice how quickly the viewer comes to understand the personality type of each interviewee. Morris takes 80 mins and cuts to the core of various simpletons, honing his craft, so that later on in his career he can use 100 mins to cut to the core of societal titans. A more complicated task, but one with some weight to it. And there lies this doc's flaw. It's too small. Unfocused. Lots of nice little nuggets that add up to something that's merely...cute. Cute doc, Errol.
Rated 24 Jul 2011
70
50th
I found this pretty funny, but it took me about 45 minutes to get there. I feel like I know many of these people, because I came from a similar town. It gave me a small anxiety attack watching the movie, and made me disinclined to travel back and visit family any time soon. Painful, in a way. When re-watching this, play the game called "can this person dress themselves?" Most cannot. Missing buttons, misuse of suspenders, wearing aprons as dresses. Makes the film much more enjoyable.
Rated 02 Oct 2009
4
35th
Disappointing, especially coming from arguably the greatest documentarian of all time. But also inspiring seeing Morris learn a craft that he would later go on to perfect. It was just not very engaging or interesting. And considering that you are dealing with a bunch of loons, it really should have been.
Rated 27 Mar 2017
80
75th
If characters from a John Waters film were real.
Rated 22 Dec 2010
65
35th
Strangely, I'm related to these people...
Rated 01 Dec 2013
40
3rd
The people interviewed in the movie are interesting (sometimes unintentionally funny at their own expense) but the movie itself was not well done in my opinion. Confusing as to who everyone is, especially in the beginning. Luckily, right around the time I started getting bored and realized I wasn't going to find out what happens to the one or two nice people, the movie suddenly ended/stopped. Very disappointing.
Rated 20 Jun 2024
60
35th
I'm not a pet person, so I guess I never thought about pet cemeteries. This documentary about them felt like two separate, not-really-connected stories, one showing a poorly-executed attempt, and another showing one that seems to be working. (Insurance Son seems to be in a movie of his own, as well.) My reaction to the film was much like seeing many of these raw interviews: a sense of uncomfortable awkwardness.
Rated 22 Dec 2013
6
83rd
on life and love. it follows the move from a lovingly created but financially haphazard animal cemetery to one that is more motivated by business interests but as a result is more successful. pretty much every person interviewed is very interesting, though not perceived as equally moral by the camera, with very subtle digs at the less compassionate. the first half hour is the best, with a heart-warming - and rending - conversation with the old guy who started it all.
Rated 20 Jun 2014
88
95th
87.500
Rated 25 Dec 2014
80
57th
By letting the cameras roll longer than needed, Morris captures the humanity of each subject as they digress on loneliness, love, and meaning. The flick could have used more dogs, though.
Rated 22 Jan 2015
66
33rd
The topic is interesting enough to watch till the end, but the execution, I'm not so sure. For those who are wondering what Errol Morris was up to at the beginning of his career.
Rated 19 Sep 2015
90
85th
there's a lot of sadness in these people, but there's also a sense of warmth and empathy felt through the lens. the shots are almost cartoony in how colorful and tidy they are, but with a certain strangeness. contrary to some of what I've read, I don't think morris was condescending to his subjects, I never found them to be anything but human, humanly weird and depressed. maybe the ''positive reinforcement'' guy sounded pathetic at times, but even him towards the end seemed like a good person
Rated 13 Mar 2017
70
65th
For better and worse, this goes out on some weird tangents.
Rated 18 Jul 2018
92
76th
Good image of how the American middle class deals with growing older and dying.
Rated 30 Sep 2018
78
66th
Watching Morris find his voice among a collection of odd voices is always worth your time. This isn't one of his masterpieces, but the fact that these characters are not Christopher Guest creations and are still still treated with respect is remarkable.
Rated 02 Apr 2020
4
70th
Strange, how a person will reveal of themselves when simply given the opportunity to talk.
Rated 20 Feb 2023
84
72nd
While I didn’t find the family business side of things as engaging as the rest this is still a heart-rendering and amusing documentary. While the interview subjects are sometimes played for laughs I never felt like Morris was mocking them but simply giving them a voice. There are some seriously stupendous monologues in here from people who most folk wouldn’t care to listen to for even ten seconds.
Rated 09 Jul 2023
100
96th
This is the greatest documentary ever made. It deals with the profound questions of life by letting it's subjects talk to the camera with eloquent, guileless simplicity. The people who buried their pets talk about their relationships with their beloved animals and their inability to just toss them away. The owner of the failed cemetery talks about his love of animals and his hatred of rendering plants.
Rated 19 Dec 2006
46
7th
Big disappointment. The film seems to be mocking and condescending towards its subjects, but I don't find it amusing. I think it's sweet that these folks want to remember their pets. It's also filmed in a very tedious manner, almost entirely talking heads.
Rated 23 Jul 2013
40
23rd
I don't get Errol Morris. I preferred this story when it was Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One, as a documentary it was a one-way ticket to snoozeville
Rated 01 Apr 2013
71
62nd
A documentary with an intriguing topic and some good interviews that takes its time getting to exactly WHY it's a documentary about a pet cemetary, but once it does it really sinks in. Plus, You gotta love the guy who thinks he's in a documentary about how to make it as a successful businessman.
Rated 13 May 2012
71
84th
The emergence of Morris and his ability to make the strange as charming as possible.
Rated 18 Dec 2011
75
53rd
Competent put together documentary. There is perhaps too many being interviewed here though, or perhaps a bit too much time spent on interviews. That being said, most of the people featured are interesting in one way or another. Morris manages to create not only a documentary about animal death, it's also about personal ambitions and hope. Some very profound things are being said in the latter part of it, which gives the documentary some extra intellectual weight.
Rated 09 Aug 2011
75
66th
Cute, quirky and entertaining. The actual storytelling of the film is a total mess, but the people are very fun to listen to.
Rated 07 Jun 2011
80
81st
A clear inspiration to Nick Park's animations (especially to his early "Creature Comforts"). Ps. the old lady in pink was awesome :) Pps. Thank you Gene and Roger. R.I.P.
Rated 19 May 2010
74
40th
Enjoyable and unique, but the complete lack of external structure and background information makes it a bit hard to grasp the film's focus once it starts switching interview subjects.
Rated 24 Nov 2009
84
80th
As with all great docs Morris was blessed here not just with ingenuity but serendipity (look to the scene with the old lady and the car). There's some absolutely fantastic stuff going on here, made all the more poignant by the excess of taupe, blue leisure suits, and now-30-year-old Coors cans: times and fashions thankfully change, but people are still as freaking weird as ever.
Rated 13 Nov 2009
69
44th
Stylish and very carefully filmed. But it's still about a dumb pet cemetery.
Rated 02 Jun 2009
73
79th
Errol Morris debuts with a documentary already indicating his very deliberate aesthetic vision. The off-beat subject, the lack of an interviewer and narrative voiceover, the carefully staged visual framing and composition, a certain quiet ambitiousness. A subtle debt to Herzog. Resulting is the first of many fascinating films.
Rated 10 May 2009
70
24th
"Surely at the gates of heaven an all-compassionate God is not going to say, 'Well, you're walking in on two legs, you can go in. You're walking in four legs, we can't take you.'" 05/10/09
Rated 28 Aug 2008
75
65th
Shows such great humanity that it's impossible not to like. It goes on a bit long, but it's still quite touching.
Rated 14 Jul 2008
14
75th
I approached this with some trepidation; its association with Herzog seemed to be its defining feature, and wasn't sure if there would be much to it beyond that. That trepidation was ultimately misplaced, though: it's a solid film, if not a classic. Its narrative is strong and cohesive despite the lack of narration; the subject is bizarre but, through the accounts of those involved, becomes engaging and oddly sweet.
Rated 12 Nov 2007
80
51st
This is great! Errol Morris is a master of taking strange subjects and making them fascinating in a lasting way. The humanity is apparent all the way through.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
100
97th
Still stands as one of my favourite documentaries of all time. I'm of the opinion that people not moved by this have no soul.

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