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MGM Studios DVD presents
Vernon, Florida (1982)

"You hear a turkey gobble, you forget all about diarrhea and everything."
- An anonymous though highly motivated turkey hunter

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: November 11, 2005

Director: Errol Morris

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:55m:35s
Release Date: July 26, 2005
UPC: 027616902337
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+B-C+ D-

DVD Review

Nobody hunts up eccentrics quite like Errol Morris, andhe hit the mother lode when he went to the Florida panhandle in theearly 1980s, resulting in this strange and sort of wonderfuldocumentary. I don't know that Morris is necessarily an acquiredtaste, but his audience is self-selecting—the kind ofcultivated oddness in which he specializes was very much of thecultural moment when this movie came out, and Morris' work meritscomparison with Talking Heads albums and David Lynch feature filmsof the time.

In fact, the movie is little more than a bunch of old coots tellingstories directly to the camera, for storytelling seems like thebest way to pass the time in the frequently sleepy town of Vernon. The interviewees aren't identified by name, but they each display akeen interest in something, be it pedestrian or arcane. A ruefulcop sits in his black and white, hopeful that someone will speed orroll through a stop sign; his radar gun is out for repair, though,so the likelihood of him nailing anyone is slim. A collector of amenagerie of animals is happy to show off his opossum and histortoise. An amateur photographer is pleased to display hisadmittedly bad photographs taken with his cheap camera. Everybodyis animated by something, though, be it Jesus Christ (a visit tochurch yields a sermon that consists of little more than anoleaginous preacher discussing looking up various words in thedictionary) or turkey hunting. This last features a huntergleefully recounting his many tales of turkey murders—they'restrange and harmless stories, so long as you're not a turkey.

At some point you start to wonder: is there a pattern to all this? I don't know that there is, and I also wonder if selecting thesepeople for their oddness isn't a little patronizing—it'salmost like Morris is perfecting his style, and would go on inother projects to find subject matter more suitable to it. (The Thin Blue Line may markthe beginning of Morris' high style; more emotional and poignantstill is The Fog ofWar.) In certain circles, Vernon is infamous for being theself-mutilation capital of America, for its astonishing anddisproportionately high amount of workers' compensation claims; itseems like such a sleepy little burg that it could be the answer tothe old adage: if you knew you were going to die in six months,where would you go? Vernon, because every day feels like aneternity. But the geography is less important here than lettingthese people speak for themselves, which Morris does, with adetached respect.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Reasonably well transferred, though thecolors have faded considerably with the years.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Lots of static and muffling, some of itinherent with documentary location shooting. Coupled with thesometimes peculiar accents of the residents of Vernon, you'll bethankful to have access to subtitles.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Errol Morris' First Person: TheComplete Series, Coffee and Cigarettes, The Saddest Music in theWorld, Kitchen Stories
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Only subtitles and trailers.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A strange little study of human nature andcultivated eccentricity from one of the masters of the form.


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