2/25: Morris Facilitation

Morris’ article, The Anti-Post-Modern Post-Modernist, is set to be an interview between Errol Morris and Homi Bhabha. Errol Morris, a film director, is a producer of numerous documentary films that are based on non-fictional stories, such as In Cold Blood, Dr. Death, and Thin Blue Line.

One of Morris’ most notable documentary films was Dr. Death. This film talks about a physician who was sentenced to death by electric chair after being suspected for the murder of his private patients. The most interesting part of this article was that Morris interviewed the titular “Dr. Death” and was intrigued with the fact that this physician was claiming innocence, even though there were five witnesses who testified against him. Unsurprisingly, “Dr. Death” was convicted of capital murder, which further intrigued Morris to create a documentary about such a scandal.

The next documentary produced by Errol Morris was Thin Blue Line, but it was criticized by numerous film reviewers because they thought that film was more of a re-enactment of Randall Adams’ conviction rather than an actual documentary. According to Homi Bhabha, an interviewer who grew up in Bombay (home of traditional pioneering documentaries and Bollywood), Morris’ films were described to be non-fiction feature films instead of a documentary, which explained the reviewers’ criticism.

The trailer for Thin Blue Line tells the story of a man by the name of Randall Adams who shot and killed a DFW police officer, Robert Wood, and was convicted of that horrific crime. The true motive for the murder was when Adams got pulled over by Wood, he shot the officer out of fear of being confronted by the officer. So, Randall pulled out his gun and shot Officer Wood multiple times and drove away from the scene of the crime. During the introduction of the interview, Bhabha mentioned that Adams was released from prison after serving more than 12 years on death row. It was very surprising to the Dallas community, including the assistant district attorney, that Randall would be the first on death row to be released from prison because of the film’s release.

In The New York Times, Morris quoted that “if you want to believe some things, then we often find a way to do so, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Believing is seeing and not the other way around.” The film director wanted the audience to believe what they see onscreen, while watching the film. Bhabha described the director’s films to be his “disturbing works of truth, history, and art” because of Morris’ habits of wanting to produce non-fictional features onto the big screen and his idea of using cinema verite (truth cinema). For example, there are actually some people who gave up their limbs in order to collect their insurance policies, while filming Vernon, Florida. Mutilating people to look the part as a person without a limb is one step too far for a film director, which was a long time before many film producers began using green screen and CG effects. As punishment, Morris got beaten by the son of a mutilated person, thus teaching him a lesson.