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Gates of Heaven (1978)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,365 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 45 critic

A documentary about a pet cemetery in California, and the people who have pets buried there.

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Title: Gates of Heaven (1978)

Gates of Heaven (1978) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Lucille Billingsley ...
Herself
Zella Graham ...
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Cal Harberts ...
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Dan Harberts ...
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Phil Harberts ...
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Scottie Harberts ...
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Mike Koewler ...
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Floyd McClure ...
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Ed Quye ...
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Florence Rasmussen ...
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Storyline

The men who run a pet cemetery, and the men and women who bury their pets, become the subject of this documentary. We first meet Floyd McClure, a paraplegic with a dream to create a pet cemetery. One inspiration is the death of his collie years before; and the other is the local rendering plant, which turns animals into glue. He realizes his dream, only to see it fail. Then we visit a successful pet cemetery, run by a father and his two sons. One is a frustrated musician, nursing a broken heart. The other is joining the family business after selling insurance in Salt Lake City. Throughout, we also meet the people who have buried their pets. Written by J. Spurlin

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Documentary

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Release Date:

October 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A mennyország kapui  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

German film director Werner Herzog had made a bet with fledgling director (and current film student) Errol Morris that if Morris made a film about pet cemeteries, Herzog would eat his shoe. Morris went on to make this film, so Herzog kept his promise. The meal is documented in the film Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980). See more »

Quotes

Pet cemetery investor: Death is for the living and not for the dead.
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Featured in Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting look into death and dying.
24 March 2003 | by (Detroit, Michigan) – See all my reviews

At first glance, Gates of Heaven appears to be a documentary about the lives of people that run pet cemetaries. On second glance, you realize you are witnessing a visual essay on the subject of death and dying, and how these average folk deal with it.

There are esesentially three parts to the film. All deal with either the struggle to build a pet cemetery or maintaining a pet cemetery. The most interesting segment is with a family who runs a successful cemetery in the desert of California. You see generations of a family that has done nothing but run this business. They explain the philosophy behind why they choose to bury pets, and why pets deserve burial just as humans do.

Morris lets the camera do all the work. With the exception of two shots every other one is static. A talking head documentary that could probably fit the definition exactly. Morris knows when exactly to inject humor into the film, just enough to keep you interested.

If you saw this film nowadays, you would expect it to be on Lifetime or some other obscure cable channel. With a third glance and possibly a fourth, you can see the message Morris is trying to get across. Everyone has a way of dealing with death. It is just how you deal with it that determines how comfortable you are with it.


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