Gates of Heaven, Errol Morris, 1978, 86 min.
Vernon, Florida, Errol Morris, USA, 1981, 55 min.
I look at Errol Morris’s first two films, Vernon, Florida and Gates of Heaven, as learning experiences for the film-maker. Both, on the surface, are not really about a particular topic. But both have themes that show up while you are watching the films. It was if Morris set out to make these films without a grasp of what he wanted to show up on screen. And while filming, he found a theme through his dialog with his subjects.
These two films were also important because they developed his style, his eye, and his rhythm. He learned how to interact with the people in front of the camera by not talking and letting the interviewee lead the conversation.
Without asking them questions, they talk about what they want to talk about, not what is expected of them. In this way, the reveals the truth. And through making these two films Morris learned to find something meaningful in those truths in his own unique way.