01 Jun 2008 Interview and Discussion: Errol Morris

Filmmaker Errol Morris on the set of Standard Operating Procedure.
Photo by Nubar Alexanian © 2007 Max Ave Productions. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

On this episode of the podcast, J. Robert Parks talks with filmmaker Errol Morris about his new film, Standard Operating Procedure, then we reconsider the film to see if our comments from Episode 16 hold up in light of the interview, a second viewing, and Morris's writings and public statements.

0:00 Intro
3:52 Interview: Errol Morris
20:13 Interview (continued): "I like trouble"
27:24 Interview (continued): "A problem with my art"
32:42 Rob's Second Viewing
38:12 Depicting Atrocities: Resnais, Lanzmann, Farocki
43:32 External Ideas: The Drop of Blood
44:58 Ambiguous Stance: Morris's Voice
48:36 The Title: Threading the Needle
49:54 Cynical View vs. Benefit of the Doubt
52:14 Give Me Thoughts, Let Me Think
57:01 The Distracting Beauty of Images
1:00:33 Outro

Duration: 1:01:29


In the spirit of J. Robert's introduction, I have a correction of my own. During the post-interview discussion, when talking about the depiction of atrocities in film, I referred to Harun Farocki's Respite, saying that it was about a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. My brain went east, but the Nazis went west. Farocki's film is actually about Westerbork, a camp in the Netherlands, sometimes called Dutch, as in: "I'm in Dutch with the fact-checkers. Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here."

Related Links

Some of our discussion is about whether Standard Operating Procedure contains Morris's essential ideas about Abu Ghraib or whether it hints at them without committing. Outside of the film, Morris has said a great deal about the subject. For example: