Errol Morris
Overview
Errol Mark Morris is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 director. In 2003, The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

put him seventh in its list of the world's 40 best directors. Also in 2003, his film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the Academy Award
76th Academy Awards
The 76th Academy Awards ceremony honored the best films of 2003 and was broadcast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California on ABC beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. EST, February 29, 2004 . The show was produced by Joe Roth and was hosted for the eighth time by comedian Billy Crystal.The...

 for Best Documentary Feature
Academy Award for Documentary Feature
The Academy Award for Documentary Feature is among the most prestigious awards for documentary films.- Winners and nominees:Following the Academy's practice, films are listed below by the award year...

.
Morris was born in Hewlett
Hewlett, New York
Hewlett is a hamlet and census-designated place in Nassau County, New York on the South Shore of Long Island. As of the United States 2010 Census, the CDP population was 6,819....

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 on February 5, 1948. When he was two years old, his father died of a heart attack. His mother, a Juilliard graduate, supported Morris and his brother as a music teacher.
Encyclopedia
Errol Mark Morris is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 director. In 2003, The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

put him seventh in its list of the world's 40 best directors. Also in 2003, his film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the Academy Award
76th Academy Awards
The 76th Academy Awards ceremony honored the best films of 2003 and was broadcast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California on ABC beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. EST, February 29, 2004 . The show was produced by Joe Roth and was hosted for the eighth time by comedian Billy Crystal.The...

 for Best Documentary Feature
Academy Award for Documentary Feature
The Academy Award for Documentary Feature is among the most prestigious awards for documentary films.- Winners and nominees:Following the Academy's practice, films are listed below by the award year...

.

Early life and education

Morris was born in Hewlett
Hewlett, New York
Hewlett is a hamlet and census-designated place in Nassau County, New York on the South Shore of Long Island. As of the United States 2010 Census, the CDP population was 6,819....

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 on February 5, 1948. When he was two years old, his father died of a heart attack. His mother, a Juilliard graduate, supported Morris and his brother as a music teacher. Morris attended Hewlett Elementary School in a class with Brent Glass
Brent Glass
Brent D. Glass is Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. A national leader in the preservation, interpretation and promotion of history, Glass is a public historian who pioneered influential oral history and material culture studies...

, Tony Kornheiser
Tony Kornheiser
Anthony Irwin "Tony" Kornheiser is an American sportswriter and former columnist for The Washington Post, as well as a radio and television talk show host...

 and former Village Voice editor David Schneiderman.

After being treated for strabismus
Strabismus
Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other. It typically involves a lack of coordination between the extraocular muscles, which prevents bringing the gaze of each eye to the same point in space and preventing proper binocular vision, which may adversely...

 in childhood, he refused to wear an eye patch. As a consequence, he has limited sight in one eye and lacks normal stereoscopic vision.

In the 10th grade, Morris attended the Putney School
The Putney School
The Putney School is an independent high school in Putney, Vermont. It was founded in 1935 by Carmelita Hinton. It is a co-educational, college-preparatory boarding school, with a day-student component, located outside of Brattleboro, Vermont. Emily Jones is the director...

, a boarding school in Vermont. He began playing the cello, spending a summer in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 studying music under the acclaimed Nadia Boulanger
Nadia Boulanger
Nadia Boulanger was a French composer, conductor and teacher who taught many composers and performers of the 20th century.From a musical family, she achieved early honours as a student at the Paris Conservatoire, but believing that her talent as a composer was inferior to that of her younger...

, who also taught Morris' future collaborator Philip Glass
Philip Glass
Philip Glass is an American composer. He is considered to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public .His music is often described as minimalist, along with...

. Describing Morris as a teenager, Mark Singer wrote that he "read with a passion the forty-odd Oz books, watched a lot of television, and on a regular basis went with a doting but not quite right maiden aunt ("I guess you'd have to say that Aunt Roz was somewhat demented") to Saturday matinées, where he saw such films as This Island Earth and Creature from the Black Lagoon
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Creature from the Black Lagoon is a 1954 monster horror film directed by Jack Arnold, and starring Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, and Whit Bissell. The eponymous creature was played by Ben Chapman on land and Ricou Browning in underwater scenes...

— horror movies that, viewed again 30 years later, still seem scary to him."

Morris attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of Wisconsin–Madison
The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded in 1848, UW–Madison is the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. It became a land-grant institution in 1866...

, graduating in 1969 with a B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in history. For a brief time Morris held small jobs, first as a cable television salesman and then as a term-paper writer. His unorthodox approach to applying for grad school included "trying to get accepted at different graduate schools just by showing up on their doorstep." Having unsuccessfully approached both the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 and Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, Morris was able to talk his way into Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, where he began studying the history of science, a topic in which he had "absolutely no background." His concentration was in the history of physics, and he was bored and unsuccessful in the prerequisite physics classes he had to take. This, together with his antagonistic relationship with his advisor Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Samuel Kuhn was an American historian and philosopher of science whose controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was deeply influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term "paradigm shift," which has since become an English-language staple.Kuhn...

 ("'You won't even look through my telescope.' And his response was 'Errol, it's not a telescope, it's a kaleidoscope.'") ensured that his stay at Princeton would be short. He left Princeton in 1972, enrolling at Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 as a Ph.D. student in philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. At Berkeley, Morris once again found that he was not well-suited to his subject. "Berkeley was just a world of pedant
Pedant
A pedant is a person who is excessively concerned with formalism and precision, or who makes a show of his or her learning.-Etymology:The English language word "pedant" comes from the French pédant or its older mid-15th Century Italian source pedante, "teacher, schoolmaster"...

s. It was truly shocking. I spent two or three years in the philosophy program. I have very bad feelings about it," he later said. He became a regular at the Pacific Film Archive
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is associated with the University of California at Berkeley. The director is Lawrence Rinder who was appointed in 2008.-Collection:...

, as Tom Luddy, the director of the archive at the time, later remembered: "He was a film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 nut. He claimed we weren't showing the real film noir. So I challenged him to write the program notes. Then, there was his habit of sneaking into the films and denying that he was sneaking in. I told him if he was sneaking in he should at least admit he was doing it."

Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE was a British film director and producer. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood...

's film Psycho
Psycho (1960 film)
Psycho is a 1960 American suspense/psychological horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins. The film is based on the screenplay by Joseph Stefano, who adapted it from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch...

, Morris visited Plainfield, Wisconsin
Plainfield, Wisconsin
Plainfield is a village in Waushara County, Wisconsin, United States. A tiny portion extends into adjacent Town of Oasis. The village is located almost entirely within the Town of Plainfield...

 in 1975. While in Wisconsin, he conducted multiple interviews with Ed Gein
Ed Gein
Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein - July 26, 1984) was an American murderer and body snatcher. His crimes, committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes...

, the infamous serial killer
Serial killer
A serial killer, as typically defined, is an individual who has murdered three or more people over a period of more than a month, with down time between the murders, and whose motivation for killing is usually based on psychological gratification...

 who was a resident at Mendota State Hospital in Madison. He later made plans with German film director Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog Stipetić , known as Werner Herzog, is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and opera director.He is often considered as one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner...

, whom Tom Luddy had introduced to Morris, to return in the summer of 1975 to secretly open the grave of Gein's mother to test their theory that Gein himself had already dug her up. Herzog arrived on schedule, but Morris had second thoughts and was not there. Herzog did not open the grave. Morris later returned to Plainfield, this time staying for almost a year, conducting hundreds of hours of interviews. Although he had plans to either write a book or make a film (which he would call Digging up the Past), Morris never completed his Ed Gein project. In the fall of 1976, Herzog visited Plainfield again, this time to shoot part of his film Stroszek
Stroszek
Stroszek is a 1977 film by German director Werner Herzog. It was written in four days specifically for Bruno S. and was shot in Berlin, two towns in Wisconsin, and in North Carolina. Most of the lead roles are played by non-actors.-Plot:...

. After the shooting finished, Herzog handed Morris an envelope full of cash. Morris walked over to the motel window and tossed the envelope out the window into a parking lot. Herzog went out to the parking lot and brought the money back, again offering it to Morris, saying, "Please don't do that again." Morris accepted the $2,000 and used it to take a trip to Vernon, Florida
Vernon, Florida
Vernon is a city in Washington County, Florida, United States. The population was 743 at the 2000 census; according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2004 estimates, the city had a population of 757....

. Vernon was nicknamed Nub City because its residents participated in a particularly gruesome form of insurance fraud in which they deliberately amputated a limb in order to collect the insurance money. "In the hierarchy of nubbiedom, the supremely rewarding self-sacrifice was the loss of a right leg and a left arm, because, so the theory went, 'afterward, you could still write your name and still have a foot to press the gas pedal of your Cadillac.'" Morris's second documentary would be about the town and bear its name, although it makes no mention of Vernon as Nub City, but instead explores other idiosyncrasies of the town's residents. Morris made this omission because he received death threats while doing research; the town's residents were afraid that Morris would reveal their secret.

After spending two weeks in Vernon, Morris returned to Berkeley and began working on a script for a work of fiction that he called Nub City. After a few unproductive months, he happened to read a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

that read, "450 DEAD PETS GOING TO NAPA VALLEY". Morris left for Napa Valley and began working on the film that would become his first feature, Gates of Heaven
Gates of Heaven
Gates of Heaven is a 1978 documentary film by Errol Morris about the pet cemetery business. It was made when Morris was unknown and did much to launch his career.-Description:...

. In 1978 when the film premiered, Werner Herzog cooked and publicly ate his shoe, an event later incorporated into a short documentary
Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe
Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe is a short documentary film directed by Les Blank in 1980 which depicts director Werner Herzog living up to his promise that he would eat his shoe if Errol Morris ever completed the film Gates of Heaven. The film includes clips from both Gates of Heaven and Herzog's...

 by Les Blank
Les Blank
Les Blank is an American documentary filmmaker best known for his portraits of American traditional musicians....

. Herzog had promised to eat his shoe if Morris completed the project, to challenge and encourage Morris, whom Herzog perceived as incapable of following up on the projects he conceived. At the public shoe-eating, Herzog suggested that he hoped the act would serve to encourage anyone having difficulty bringing a project to fruition.

Early career

Gates of Heaven was given a limited release in the spring of 1981. Critic Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 was and remains today a champion of the film, including it on his all-time top ten best films list. Morris returned to Vernon in 1979 and again in 1980, renting a house in town and conducting interviews with the town's citizens. Vernon, FL
Vernon, Florida (film)
Vernon, Florida is a 1981 documentary film produced and directed by Errol Morris profiling various eccentric residents living within the town of Vernon, Florida. Originally titled Nub City, this follow-up to Gates of Heaven was initially focused on residents of the Southern town who cut off their...

premiered at the 1981 New York Film Festival
New York Film Festival
The New York Film Festival has been a major film festival since it began in 1963 in New York. The films are selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center...

. Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

called it, "a film as odd and mysterious as its subjects, and quite unforgettable." The film, like Gates of Heaven, suffered from poor distribution. It was released on video in 1987, and DVD in 2005.

After finishing Vernon, FL, Morris tried unsuccessfully to get funding for a variety of projects. There was Road, a story about an interstate highway in Minnesota; a project about Robert Golka, the creator of laser-induced fireballs in Utah; and the story of Centralia, Pennsylvania
Centralia, Pennsylvania
Centralia is a borough and ghost town in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States. Its population has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 12 in 2005, 9 in 2007, and 10 in 2010, as a result of a mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962...

, the coal town in which an "inextinguishable subterranean fire" ignited in 1962. He eventually got funding in 1983 to write a script about John and Jim Pardue, a pair of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 bank robbers who had killed their father and grandmother and robbed five banks. Morris's pitch went, "The great bank-robbery sprees always take place at a time when something is going wrong in the country. Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were well-known outlaws, robbers, and criminals who traveled the Central United States with their gang during the Great Depression. Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the "public enemy era" between 1931 and 1934...

 were apolitical, but it's impossible to imagine them without the Depression as a back-drop. The Pardue brothers were apolitical, but it's impossible to imagine them without Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

." Morris wanted Tom Waits
Tom Waits
Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."...

 and Mickey Rourke
Mickey Rourke
Philip Andre "Mickey" Rourke, Jr. is an American actor, screenwriter and retired boxer, who has appeared primarily as a leading man in action, drama, and thriller films....

 to play the brothers, and he wrote the script, but the project eventually failed. Morris worked on writing scripts for various other projects, including a pair of ill-fated Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

 adaptations.

In 1984 he married Julia Sheehan, whom he had met in Wisconsin while researching Ed Gein and other serial killers. Morris would later recall an early conversation with Julia: "I was talking to a mass murderer but I was thinking of you," he said, and instantly regretted it, afraid that it might not have sounded as affectionate as he had wished. But Julia was actually flattered: "I thought, really, that was one of the nicest things anyone ever said to me. It was hard to go out with other guys after that."

In 1985, Morris became interested in Dr. James Grigson, a psychiatrist in Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

. Under Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 law, the death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 can only be issued if the jury is convinced that the defendant is not only guilty, but will commit further violent crimes in the future if he is not put to death. Grigson had spent 15 years testifying for such cases, and he almost invariably gave the same damning testimony, often saying that it is "one hundred per cent certain" that the defendant would kill again. This led to Grigson being nicknamed "Dr. Death". Through Grigson, Morris would meet the subject of his next film, 36 year-old Randall Dale Adams
Randall Dale Adams
Randall Dale Adams was wrongly convicted of murdering police officer Robert W. Wood, and was subsequently sentenced to death. He served more than 12 years in prison, at one point coming within 72 hours of being put to death...

.

Adams was serving a life sentence that had been commuted from a death sentence on a legal technicality for the 1976 murder of Robert Wood, a Dallas police officer. Adams told Morris that he had been framed, and that David Harris, who was present at the time of the murder and was the principal witness for the prosecution, had in fact killed Wood. Morris began researching the case because it related to Dr. Grigson; he was at first unconvinced of Adams's innocence. After reading the transcripts of the trial and meeting David Harris at a bar, however, Morris was no longer so sure.

At the time, Morris had been making a living as a private investigator for a well-known private detective agency that specialized in Wall Street cases. Bringing together his talents as an investigator and his obsessions with murder, narration and epistemology, Morris went to work on the case in earnest. Unedited interviews in which the prosecution's witnesses systematically contradicted themselves were used as testimony in Adams's 1986 habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

hearing to determine if he would receive a new trial. David Harris famously confessed, in a roundabout manner, to killing Wood. Although Adams was finally found innocent after years of being processed by the legal system, the judge in the habeas corpus hearing officially stated that, "much could be said about those videotape interviews, but nothing that would have any bearing on the matter before this court." Regardless, The Thin Blue Line
The Thin Blue Line (documentary)
The Thin Blue Line is a 1988 documentary film by Errol Morris, depicting the story of Randall Dale Adams, a man convicted and sentenced to die for a murder he did not commit. Adams' case was reviewed and he was released from prison approximately a year after the film's release.-Synopsis:The film...

, as Morris's film would be called, was popularly accepted as the main force behind getting its subject, Randall Adams, out of prison. As Morris said of the film, "The Thin Blue Line is two movies grafted together. On one simple level is the question, Did he do it, or didn’t he? And on another level, The Thin Blue Line, properly considered, is an essay on false history. A whole group of people, literally everyone, believed a version of the world that was entirely wrong, and my accidental investigation of the story provided a different version of what happened."

According to a survey by The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

, The Thin Blue Line made dozens of critics' top ten lists for 1988, more than any other film that year. It won the documentary of the year award from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics
National Society of Film Critics
The National Society of Film Critics is an American film critic organization. As of December 2007 the NSFC had approximately 60 members who wrote for a variety of weekly and daily newspapers.-History:...

. Despite its widespread acclaim, it was not nominated for an Oscar, which created a small scandal regarding the nomination practices of the Academy. The Academy cited the film's genre of "non-fiction", arguing that it was not actually a documentary. To this day, The Thin Blue Line is one of the most critically acclaimed documentaries ever made.

2000s

Although Morris has achieved fame as a documentary filmmaker, he is also an accomplished director of television commercials. In 2002, Morris directed a series of television ads for Apple Computer
Apple Computer
Apple Inc. is an American multinational corporation that designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad...

 as part of a popular "Switch" campaign. The commercials featured ex-Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

 users discussing their various bad experiences that motivated their own personal switches to Macintosh. One commercial in the series, starring a high-school friend of his son Hamilton Morris, named Ellen Feiss
Ellen Feiss
Ellen Feiss is an American who became an Internet phenomenon after her 2002 Errol Morris-directed television commercial for Apple Computer's Switch campaign grew into a cult hit...

, became an Internet fad. Morris has directed hundreds of commercials for various companies and products, including Adidas
Adidas
Adidas AG is a German sports apparel manufacturer and parent company of the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade-Adidas golf company , and Rockport...

, AIG
American International Group
American International Group, Inc. or AIG is an American multinational insurance corporation. Its corporate headquarters is located in the American International Building in New York City. The British headquarters office is on Fenchurch Street in London, continental Europe operations are based in...

, Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems, Inc. is an American multinational corporation headquartered in San Jose, California, United States, that designs and sells consumer electronics, networking, voice, and communications technology and services. Cisco has more than 70,000 employees and annual revenue of US$...

, Citibank
Citibank
Citibank, a major international bank, is the consumer banking arm of financial services giant Citigroup. Citibank was founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York, later First National City Bank of New York...

, Kimberly-Clark's Depend
Depend
Depend is a brand of unisex adult underwear for those experiencing urinary or fecal incontinence by Kimberly-Clark. They were first introduced in 1984....

 brand, Levi's, Miller High Life, Nike
Nike, Inc.
Nike, Inc. is a major publicly traded sportswear and equipment supplier based in the United States. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, which is part of the Portland metropolitan area...

, PBS, The Quaker Oats Company, Southern Comfort
Southern Comfort
Southern Comfort is an American liqueur made from neutral spirits with fruit, spice and whiskey flavourings. The brand was originally created by bartender Martin Wilkes Heron in New Orleans in 1874, and is now owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation...

, EA Sports
EA Sports
EA Sports is a brand of Electronic Arts that creates and develops sports video games. Formerly a marketing gimmick of Electronic Arts, in which they tried to mimic real-life sports networks by calling themselves "EA Sports Network" with pictures or endorsements of real commentators such as John...

, Toyota and Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

. Many of these commercials are available on his website.

In 2002, Morris was commissioned to make a short film for the 75th Academy Awards
75th Academy Awards
The 75th Academy Awards honored the best films of 2002, were held on March 23, 2003, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. It was produced by Gil Cates and hosted for the second time by Steve Martin....

. He was hired based on his advertising resume, not his career as a director of feature-length documentaries. Those interviewed ranged from Laura Bush
Laura Bush
Laura Lane Welch Bush is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001, to January 20, 2009. She has held a love of books and reading since childhood and her life and education have reflected that interest...

 to Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Though considered an innovator of punk rock, Pop's music has encompassed a number of styles over the years, including pop, metal, jazz and blues...

 to Kenneth Arrow
Kenneth Arrow
Kenneth Joseph Arrow is an American economist and joint winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics with John Hicks in 1972. To date, he is the youngest person to have received this award, at 51....

 to Morris's 15 year old son Hamilton Morris . Morris was nominated for an Emmy for this short film. He considered editing this footage into a feature length film, focusing specifically on Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Donald John Trump, Sr. is an American business magnate, television personality and author. He is the chairman and president of The Trump Organization and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts. Trump's extravagant lifestyle, outspoken manner and role on the NBC reality show The Apprentice have...

 discussing Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film, directed by and starring Orson Welles. Many critics consider it the greatest American film of all time, especially for its innovative cinematography, music and narrative structure. Citizen Kane was Welles' first feature film...

(This segment was later released on the second issue of Wholphin
Wholphin (DVD)
Wholphin is a quarterly DVD magazine containing a selection of short films which have had little or no exposure elsewhere. It was created by Dave Eggers and Brent Hoff of McSweeney's publishing house...

). Morris went on to make a second short for the 79th Academy Awards
79th Academy Awards
The 79th Academy Awards ceremony , honored the best films of 2006 and took place on February 25, 2007 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on ABC. Ellen DeGeneres hosted the ceremony for the first time. The producer was Laura Ziskin. The announcers were Don LaFontaine and Gina Tuttle.The nominees were...

 in 2007, this time interviewing the various nominees and asking them about their Oscar experiences.

In July 2004, Morris directed another series of commercials in the style of the "Switch" ads. This campaign featured Republicans
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 who voted for Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 in the 2000 election
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

 giving their personal reasons for voting for Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

 in 2004. Upon completing more than 50 commercials, Morris had difficulty getting them on the air. Eventually the liberal advocacy group MoveOn
MoveOn
MoveOn is an American non-profit, progressive or liberal public policy advocacy group and political action committee, which has raised millions of dollars for candidates it identifies as "moderates" or "progressives" in the United States. It was formed in 1998 in response to the impeachment of...

 PAC
Political action committee
In the United States, a political action committee, or PAC, is the name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation. Legally, what constitutes a "PAC" for purposes of regulation is a...

 paid to air a few of the commercials. Morris eventually wrote an editorial for the New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

discussing the commercials and Kerry's losing campaign.

In the fall of 2004, Morris also directed a series of noteworthy commercials for Sharp Electronics. The commercials enigmatically depicted various scenes from what appeared to be a short narrative that climaxed with a car crashing into a swimming pool. Each commercial showed a slightly different perspective on the events, and each ended with a cryptic weblink. The weblink was to a fake webpage advertising a prize offered to anyone who could discover the secret location of some valuable urns. It was in fact an alternate reality game
Alternate reality game
An alternate reality game is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions....

. The original commercials can be found on Morris's website.

Morris also directed a series of spots for Reebok
Reebok
Reebok International Limited, a subsidiary of the German sportswear company Adidas since 2005, is a producer of Athletic shoes, apparel, and accessories. The name comes from the Afrikaans spelling of rhebok, a type of African antelope or gazelle...

 that featured rapper 50 Cent
50 Cent
Curtis James Jackson III , better known by his stage name 50 Cent, is an American rapper, entrepreneur, investor, record producer, and actor. He rose to fame with the release of his albums Get Rich or Die Tryin and The Massacre . Get Rich or Die Tryin has been certified eight times platinum by...

. The spots featured a title design by The Wilderness.

In 2004, Morris won the Best Documentary Oscar at the Academy Awards, for his film The Fog of War, about the career of Robert S. McNamara, who was famous for having been the Secretary of Defense who had led the nation into the Vietnam War under Presidents John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and who was also crucially involved in having helped President Kennedy avoid a Third World War over the issue of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. In the hauntingly re-enacted opening portion of the film concerning the background that McNamara and his pro-nuclear-war adversary U.S. General Curtis LeMay had shared together during World War II, director Morris brought out complexities in the character of McNamara, which the public had not previously recognized, but which largely shaped McNamara's positions regarding both the missiles-in-Cuba issue and the Vietnam War issue, and which therefore created the historical figure that McNamara turned out to be as the U.S. Secretary of Defense. In this documentary, Morris brought to a pinnacle the revolutionary technique that he had first introduced to the world in his 1988 The Thin Blue Line: the use of re-enactments in a documentary film -- a technique (re-enactments) which had previously been thought to be inappropriate for use in a "documentary" film. However, by now, in 2004, the use of re-enactments in a documentary had become accepted by critics, and therefore this time around, Morris finally won the Academy Award that he should earlier have won also for his The Thin Blue Line, which had actually revolutionized documentary filmmaking.

In early 2010, a new Morris documentary had been submitted to several film festivals, including Toronto International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival is a publicly-attended film festival held each September in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2010, 339 films from 59 countries were screened at 32 screens in downtown Toronto venues...

, Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes International Film Festival , is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres including documentaries from around the world. Founded in 1946, it is among the world's most prestigious and publicized film festivals...

, and Telluride Film Festival
Telluride Film Festival
The Telluride Film Festival was started in 1974 by Bill and Stella Pence, Tom Luddy and Jim Card in the town of Telluride, Colorado, United States. It is operated by the National Film Preserve....

. The film, titled Tabloid, features interviews with Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming
Miss Wyoming
Miss Wyoming is a state-level pageant which sends winners to compete for the title of Miss America. The competition, which awards scholarships, is open to women aged 17 through 24.- Winners :-External links:*...

, who was convicted in absentia for the kidnap and indecent assault of a Mormon missionary
Mormon sex in chains case
The Mormon sex in chains case was a sex scandal involving a Mormon missionary in England during 1977.-Incident:A young Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson went missing in 1977, in Ewell, Surrey, after he was allegedly abducted from the steps of a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of...

 in England during 1977.

Additionally Morris has been writing long-form journalism exploring different areas of his interest, published on the New York Times website. A collection of these essays, entitled Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography, was published by Penguin Press on September 1, 2011. In November 2011, Morris premiered a documentary short, "The Umbrella Man," featuring Josiah "Tink" Thompson on the Kennedy assassination, on the opinion page of The New York Times online.

The Interrotron

The Interrotron is a device similar to a teleprompter
Teleprompter
An autocue is a display device that prompts the person speaking with an electronic visual text of a speech or script. Using a teleprompter is similar to the practice of using cue cards...

: Errol and his subject each sit facing a camera. The image of each person's face is then projected onto a two-way mirror
Two-way mirror
A one-way mirror, also known as a two-way mirror, one-way glass, or two-way glass is a mirror which is partially reflective and partially transparent...

 positioned in front of the lens of the other's camera. Instead of looking at a blank lens, then, both Morris and his subject are looking directly at a human face. (Diagram) Morris believes that the machine helps to explore the relationship between "monologue and language, and how people present themselves to camera, and express themselves to camera."

The name "Interrotron" was coined by Morris's wife, who, according to Morris, "liked the name because it combined two important concepts — terror and interview."

Filmography

  • Gates of Heaven
    Gates of Heaven
    Gates of Heaven is a 1978 documentary film by Errol Morris about the pet cemetery business. It was made when Morris was unknown and did much to launch his career.-Description:...

    (1978)
  • Vernon, Florida
    Vernon, Florida (film)
    Vernon, Florida is a 1981 documentary film produced and directed by Errol Morris profiling various eccentric residents living within the town of Vernon, Florida. Originally titled Nub City, this follow-up to Gates of Heaven was initially focused on residents of the Southern town who cut off their...

    (1981)
  • The Thin Blue Line
    The Thin Blue Line (documentary)
    The Thin Blue Line is a 1988 documentary film by Errol Morris, depicting the story of Randall Dale Adams, a man convicted and sentenced to die for a murder he did not commit. Adams' case was reviewed and he was released from prison approximately a year after the film's release.-Synopsis:The film...

    (1988)
  • The Dark Wind
    The Dark Wind
    The Dark Wind is the second Tony Hillerman novel to feature Officer Jim Chee. Recent college graduate Jim Chee has just taken a job with the Navajo Tribal Police in Arizona, where he helps keep the peace with his superior Captain Largo on land earmarked for joint use by the Navajo and the Hopi...

    (1991)
  • A Brief History of Time
    A Brief History of Time (film)
    A Brief History of Time is a 1991 American documentary film about the physicist Stephen Hawking, directed by Errol Morris. Its title derives from Hawking's bestselling book of the same name, but whereas the book is an explanation of cosmology, the film is a biography of Hawking's life, featuring...

    (1991)
  • Fast, Cheap and Out of Control
    Fast, Cheap and Out of Control
    Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is a 1997 film by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. It profiles four subjects with extraordinary careers: a lion trainer, a topiary sculptor, a mole rat specialist, and a robot scientist....

    (1997)
  • Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.
    Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.
    Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. is a 1999 documentary film by Errol Morris about execution technician Fred A. Leuchter.-Plot:...

    (1999)
  • First Person
    First Person (TV series)
    First Person was an American TV series produced and directed by Errol Morris. The show engaged a varied group of individuals from civil advocates to criminals....

    (2000)
  • The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
    The Fog of War
    The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 American documentary film about the life and times of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara as well as illustrating his observations of the nature of modern warfare...

    (2003)
  • Standard Operating Procedure
    Standard Operating Procedure (film)
    Standard Operating Procedure is a 2008 documentary film which explores the meaning of the photographs taken by U.S. military police at the Abu Ghraib prison in late 2003, the content of which revealed the torture and abuse of its prisoners by U.S. soldiers and subsequently resulted in a public...

    (2008)
  • Tabloid
    Tabloid (film)
    Tabloid is an American documentary film by Errol Morris. The film tells the story of Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming, who was accused of kidnaping and raping Kirk Anderson, an American Mormon missionary. The case became a major tabloid story and a battle between The Daily Mirror and The...

    (2010)

Writing


Awards and honors

  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

     (2007)
  • Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival for Standard Operating Procedure
    Standard Operating Procedure (film)
    Standard Operating Procedure is a 2008 documentary film which explores the meaning of the photographs taken by U.S. military police at the Abu Ghraib prison in late 2003, the content of which revealed the torture and abuse of its prisoners by U.S. soldiers and subsequently resulted in a public...

  • Academy Award for Documentary Feature
    Academy Award for Documentary Feature
    The Academy Award for Documentary Feature is among the most prestigious awards for documentary films.- Winners and nominees:Following the Academy's practice, films are listed below by the award year...

     The Fog of War
    The Fog of War
    The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 American documentary film about the life and times of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara as well as illustrating his observations of the nature of modern warfare...

    (2004)
  • Best Documentary of the Year awards for The Fog of War (2003): the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Chicago Film Critics, and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics.
  • 2002 International Documentary Association list of the 20 all-time best documentaries: The Thin Blue Line
    The Thin Blue Line (documentary)
    The Thin Blue Line is a 1988 documentary film by Errol Morris, depicting the story of Randall Dale Adams, a man convicted and sentenced to die for a murder he did not commit. Adams' case was reviewed and he was released from prison approximately a year after the film's release.-Synopsis:The film...

    (#2), Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (#14)
  • Emmy for Best Commercial for PBS commercial "Photobooth" (2001)
  • In December 2001, the United States' National Film Preservation Foundation
    National Film Preservation Foundation
    The National Film Preservation Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. Growing from a national planning effort led by the Library of Congress, the NFPF began operations in 1997. It supports activities nationwide that...

     announced that Morris's The Thin Blue Line would be one of the 25 films selected that year for preservation in the National Film Registry
    National Film Registry
    The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

     at the Library of Congress
    Library of Congress
    The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

    , bringing the total at the time to 325.
  • MacArthur Fellowship (1989)
  • Washington Post Best Film of the Year for The Thin Blue Line (1988)
  • New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics
    National Society of Film Critics
    The National Society of Film Critics is an American film critic organization. As of December 2007 the NSFC had approximately 60 members who wrote for a variety of weekly and daily newspapers.-History:...

     Best Documentary for The Thin Blue Line (1988)
  • Golden Horse for Best Foreign Film at the Taiwan International Film Festival for The Thin Blue Line (1988)
  • Edgar Award
    Edgar Award
    The Edgar Allan Poe Awards , named after Edgar Allan Poe, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America...

     for Best Motion Picture, from the Mystery Writers of America
    Mystery Writers of America
    Mystery Writers of America is an organization for mystery writers, based in New York.The organization was founded in 1945 by Clayton Rawson, Anthony Boucher, Lawrence Treat, and Brett Halliday....

    , for The Thin Blue Line (1989)
  • Gates of Heaven
    Gates of Heaven
    Gates of Heaven is a 1978 documentary film by Errol Morris about the pet cemetery business. It was made when Morris was unknown and did much to launch his career.-Description:...

    (1978) has long been on Roger Ebert's list of the ten greatest films ever made.

External links

  • Errol Morris's website
  • Errol Morris at Rotten Tomatoes
    Rotten Tomatoes
    Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

    )
  • Errol Morris (Jonathan Crow, Allmovie)
  • Errol Morris (Nina Rehfeld, GreenCine
    GreenCine
    GreenCine is an online DVD rental service similar to Netflix. Based in San Francisco, California, with its distribution center in the Los Angeles area , it has a collection of over 30,000 titles as well as over 9,000 video on demand titles...

    )
  • Voices on Antisemitism Interview with Errol Morris from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the United States' official memorial to the Holocaust. Adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the USHMM provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history...

  • Werner Herzog in coversation with Errol Morris (The Believer
    The Believer (magazine)
    The Believer is a United States literary magazine that also covers other arts and general culture. Founded and designed in 2003 by the writer and publisher Dave Eggers, it is edited by Vendela Vida, Heidi Julavits and Ed Park...

    )
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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