Errol Morris is a “documentary filmmaker” only in that no other succinct label describes his work — most often artful renderings, reenactments, re-visitations, and character studies of true events. Now Morris brings us Standard Operating Procedure, a collaborative film/book project with the writer Philip Gourevitch revealing the stories of the American soldiers who were on both sides of the lens of the haunting, iconic photographs from Abu Ghraib prison. Sorry to report, no tickets remain to hear Morris introduce and discuss the film in an April 15 screening at the Walker.
Even without a ticket, you’re only a click away from seeing how Morris’ mind works. In long, captivating blogs for the New York Times, Morris has taken to disseminating and dissecting the topic of photographic truth like a forensic scientist — he’s essentially asking “What is and isn’t documentary?” His latest, published today, digs into his own landmark film, The Thin Blue Line.
In the essay, Morris explains one seemingly small but important creative choice he made in that film — to reenact the spilling of a milkshake at the scene of a police officer’s shooting: “We assemble our picture of reality from details. We don’t take in reality whole. Our ideas about reality come from bits and pieces of experience. We try to assemble them into something that has a consistent narrative.”