IMDb > Gates of Heaven (1978)
Gates of Heaven
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Gates of Heaven (1978) More at IMDbPro »

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A documentary about a pet cemetery in California, and the people who have pets buried there. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
slow and compelling and a meditation on the human condition See more (27 total) »


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

Directed by
Errol Morris 
Produced by
Errol Morris .... producer
Original Music by
Dan Harberts 
Cinematography by
Ned Burgess 
Film Editing by
Errol Morris 
Production Management
George Paul Csicsery .... production manager (as George Csicsery)
Sound Department
Lucy Bruell .... additional sound
Tom Fleischman .... re-recording mixer
John Knoop .... additional sound
Jay Miracle .... sound
Walter Saxer .... additional sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Francis Frith .... still photographer: Egyptian photograph
John Giannini .... still photographer
Dyanna Taylor .... additional photographer
Editorial Department
George Berndt .... post-production consultant
George Paul Csicsery .... assistant editor
Suzanne Fenn .... contributing editor
Brad Fuller .... associate editor
Jack Harrell .... color timer
Charles Silver .... supervising editor (as Charles Laurence Silver)
William Edmundson .... special thanks
Benjamin Esterman .... special thanks
Cinnabelle Morris .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
85 min
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

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 »
Pet cemetery investor:Death is for the living and not for the dead.See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Life Itself (2014)See more »


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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful.
slow and compelling and a meditation on the human condition, 9 June 2006
Author: matt-szy from United States

The film starts with an man talking about his journey to achieve his dream of opening a pet cemetery in the south bay of San Francisco. We meet the people who help him: investors, friends, pet lovers. We also meet the guy against him, the guy who makes a living out of disposing of dead animals. This is the first part of the film. The second part of the film we meet a family that runs a successful pet cemetery, called the Bubbling Well Pet Cemetery. We meet the father, the head of the business, his wife, the moral supporter, for a lack of a better definition, and we meet the two sons involved in assisting in operations, one is a former insurance worker, the other is a business admin college grad. This is the basic outline of the film. And this sounds kind of boring, maybe. But boring it is not. If anything, slow at times. Thats because the camera is usually completely still and people are positioned in front of the camera, talking into it. What is interesting is how when these characters talk they let loose and go on tangents, exposing their world views, usually in the context of pets, and what we see is the humanity of these seemingly regular people, their musings on life and death, companionship, love, filial duty. For instance, the first man with the pet cemetery idea talks about how you can't trust people, how if you turn around they might stab you in the back, but his dog would never do this because you can trust your dog. The dead pet disposal guy rants about, and is surprised at the emotional connection people have with pets, as though it was something he just discovered in his line of work, and his line of work is treated by him as just a job, not anything controversial. And the sons of the successful pet cemetery owner, one is a motivational speaker. He talks about projecting ideas of success and refraining from using negative words with his little daughter, when she has done something wrong. And the other son talks about his musical aspirations and how he found out what love is in college and then found out about the hard break up afterwards. Erol Morris succeeds at exposing the layers of peoples in a real light, sometimes showing the contradictory and absurdness of peoples personalities and yet also showing the genuineness of people and their intentions. At times the film is comical, at times very serious, and other times sad. Morris is a keen observer of human behavior and this film illustrates this very well. For some local history from the southern SF bay area, for an interesting look at peoples views on very common human issues we can all relate with and of course on pets, see this nice movie. 8 out of 10.

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