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Gates of Heaven (1978)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,452 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 ...
Herself
Cal Harberts ...
Himself
Dan Harberts ...
Himself
Phil Harberts ...
Himself
Scottie Harberts ...
Himself
Mike Koewler ...
Himself
Floyd McClure ...
Himself
Ed Quye ...
Himself
Florence Rasmussen ...
Herself
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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

Mourning pet owner: There's your dog; your dog's dead. But where's the thing that made it move? It had to be something, didn't it?
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Connections

Featured in A Brief History of Errol Morris (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An all-time favorite. A quirky, poignant, and sometimes hilarious look at man's relationship with his pets.
1 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I first saw this movie in a college theater in its initial release. The movie poster claimed it was "Not quite a movie about pet cemeteries." I didn't know what to expect, but I have always liked the offbeat. This movie, which even Roger Ebert calls one of his all-time favorites, turned out to be offbeat and much, much more.

Without poking fun at his subjects, Morris exposes us to the world of pet cemeteries--both the owners and caretakers of them and the people who've placed the remains of a cherished pet in their care. Sometimes we are moved by empathy; other times we laugh out loud at the preposterousness of it. (Are they for real?) At no time does Morris pass judgment. He leaves that up to us.

Along the way we meet the owner of a rendering service, and learn what happens when the circus comes to town. We learn that "God" is "dog" spelled backwards, and we meet an aspiring musician. Morris captures on film the things that make us human: grief, love, self-importance, and an unabashed silliness. The result is a quirky, poignant, and sometimes hilarious look at man's relationship with his pets.


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