Honored by Roger Ebert as one of the ten best films of all time and supported by Werner Herzog – who said he'd eat his own shoe if Errol Morris ever completed it in an attempt to coax the movie aong (all of which is documented in Les Blank's Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe – a documentary short that is more than worth watching), this film is highly revered and loved by many.
Gates tells the story of pet cemeteries in California simply, through rambling interviews with memorable characters involved in the industry as well as pet owners.
Now, if it doesn't sound interesting, then look at what Ebert has to say: “Every time I show this, it plays differently. Some people think it's about animals. Some people think it's about life and death. I've shown it to a group of bankers, who believe it raises all kinds of questions about success, about starting a small business. People think it's funny or sad or deadpan or satirical. They think that Errol Morris loved the people in the film, or that he was being very cruel to them. I've never yet had a person tell me that it's a bad film or a film that doesn't interest them.”
And here's what Herzog said: “It's the only authentic film on love and emotion and late capitalism and maybe it's the only authentic film on loss of emotions and distortion of feelings and degeneration of feelings.”
The film is complex in its simplicity and will completely engage and enthrall you if you have any interest in people, or animals, or life. I adore this movie and am happy to say it's finally been released on DVD.