Realized by Laurie Anderson
As America’s best-known experimental performance artist, Laurie Anderson has made her mark in many forms of media: multimedia stage performances, seven books, multiple studio albums and soundtracks, visual art museum installations. And, yes, filmmaking. Laurie’s meditative nonfiction film, Heart of a Dog, is an impressionistic musing on love, life, and death reinforced by evocative music. The film especially speaks to everyone who has loved their dog.
This work serves as an homage — almost a biopic — for Lolabelle, Anderson’s beloved rat terrier whom she trained (with a trainer) to paint, create sculptures, and even play piano after going blind. The death of Lola is woven with reflections on the death of Anderson’s mother, as well as the afterlife. Quoting the Tibetan Book of the Dead, she contemplates, “The purpose of death is the release of love.”
The lucid yet abstract film has a fairytale pacing and a dreamlike quality. Narrated by Anderson in a sing-song librarian reading voice, the film also shares her philosophies, fantasies, and autobiographical stories through childhood images and film footage, paintings, and reenactments in a unique collage format.
As one would expect from this luminary recording artist, the soundtrack features prominently. Symphonic-like electronica combined with strings, exotic flutes, and poignant vocalizations provide the musical compositions, with the closing song sung by Anderson’s late husband Lou Reed. Heart of a Dog opens in LA at the Landmark Nuart Theatre with introductions and a Q&A from Laurie Anderson on November 6 and 7. The original soundtrack is available on Nonesuch. For more information visit: laurieanderson.com.
Reviewed by Karen Henry, an associate editor at the Bliss Network who is also a freelance producer and publicist.