MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 1989

Errol Morris

Filmmaker

New York, New York

Age: 41 at time of award

Published August 1, 1989

Errol Morris is an independent filmmaker whose work has helped redefine the documentary by telling the stories of unique individuals in his distinctive voice.

His early films, Gates of Heaven (1978), about pet cemeteries, and Vernon, Florida (1982), an investigation of reality in a small town, showcased his skill at creating riveting narratives from seemingly mundane topics.  Morris’s breakthrough, feature-length work, The Thin Blue Line (1988), combines testimony and stylized dramatizations to examine the possible injustices associated with the trial, conviction, and a life sentence in a murder case in Texas.  The film proved influential in overturning the conviction of the film’s subject, Randall Adams. 

His other films include A Brief History of Time (1992), Morris’s study of the physicist Stephen Hawking and his theories about the beginning of the universe; Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (1997), a contemporary meditation on the myth of Sisyphus depicted through profiles of four unusual professionals; and The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003), which is about the life and career of the former Secretary of Defense. 

Morris received a B.A. (1969) from the University of Wisconsin and studied at Princeton University and at the University of California, Berkeley.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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