Sunday, May 29, 2016
Heart of a Dog (2015 film)
Directed by Laurie Anderson, Heart of a Dog is a documentary film of sorts in which avant-garde performance artist Laurie Anderson creates a film about her rat terrier dog named Lolabelle while reflecting on life and death including the passing of her dog as well as others in her life. Presented in a reflective yet imaginative fashion, the film is an unconventional film that plays into Anderson looking into her childhood as well as the love she has for her dog. The result is a fascinating and touching film from Laurie Anderson.
Set largely in post-9/11 New York, the film revolves around Laurie Anderson’s relationship with her pet rat terrier named Lolabelle whom she had adopted and love until its death in 2011. Presented in a mixture of super 8mm film from Anderson’s childhood, old camera footage when Lolabelle was alive and in her prime, and a mixture of drawing and animations by Anderson. The film play into Anderson’s relationship with the dog and what Lolabelle was able to do in her final years with the aid of Lolabelle’s trainer Elisabeth Weiss. Especially as Lolabelle learned to paint and also play keyboards where the dog would give a few concerts despite becoming blind. Since Anderson is a Buddhist, she also talks about how grief is presented where Anderson would also talk about the death of her mother whom she admits to have a strained relationship with.
The film would also have these unique scenes where Anderson talks about parts of her own childhood including a time where she injured her back when she tried to do a flip off of a diving board. Some of it is told with humor but also with a sense of sadness as it relate to the loss that Anderson experiences that includes a glimpse of her husband in the legendary musician Lou Reed who died in 2013 as the film is dedicated to him. With the aid of co-cinematographers Toshiaki Ozawa and Joshua Zucker-Pluda, Anderson would do some of her own shooting as it relates to what dogs see as well as look into post-9/11 New York City where everyone is being filmed to play Anderson’s own view about the craziness and paranoia that occurs with everyone being surveyed. With the aid of editors Melody London and Katherine Nolfi in compiling some of the Super 8mm film stock as well as some of the video footage Anderson was able to get as it plays into the dark aspects of the modern world.
Sound mixing by Skip Lievsay, Mario McNulty, and Paul Urmson help play into what dogs hear but also in the way some of the voices are mixed during Anderson’s narration. The film’s music largely consists of score pieces by Anderson that is played with her violin and some ambient textures while the film ends with a song by Lou Reed.
Heart of a Dog is a remarkable film from Laurie Anderson. While it is a very strange and unconventional documentary film, it is still an engaging film that explores loss as well as how special pets are to people. In the end, Heart of a Dog is a marvelous film from Laurie Anderson.
© thevoid99 2016