Woo-hoo! Three classic films by one of my favorite documentarians are coming to DVD later this summer. MGM/UA is releasing a boxed set of Errol Morris’s first three films: 1978’s Gates of Heaven (one of Roger Ebert’s all-time top ten); 1981’s Vernon, Florida; and 1988’s The Thin Blue Line (one of my own all-time top ten).
One question Morris fans may ask is, will Les Blank’s short film Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980) be included as an extra on the Gates of Heaven DVD? The story goes that Herzog swore he would eat his own shoe if Morris ever got around to finishing his film, so when Morris did, Herzog did. Blank’s film even includes some out-takes from the Gates of Heaven interviews that are not in the film itself, IIRC.
Alas, the set will not include 1991’s A Brief History of Time, the Stephen Hawking biography and meditation on cosmology which remains unavailable on DVD; there is something wrong with the world when a high-profile, much-heralded film like that can remain unreleased while 1991’s The Dark Wind, Morris’s only fictional film and an obscure project that was taken out of his hands, has been available for some time.
Morris’s other, later feature films — 1997’s Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (my review), 1999’s Mr. Death (my article) and 2003’s The Fog of War — all came out after the invention of the DVD, so they have all been available in that format from the get-go.
FWIW, I interviewed Morris over the phone back when Fast, Cheap came out — you can read that interview here.
ADDENDUM: I don’t watch TV, so this had not even occurred to me, but apparently MGM/UA is also going to release the complete set of Errol Morris’s First Person series on July 26, the same day as his boxed set. Thanks to M. Dale for reminding me of that.