Laurie Anderson’s new documentary, Heart of a Dog, was made almost by accident, and though it does offer a very unique “dog’s eye view”, there’s so much more to it. A long-time muser on life, art, music, fashion, technology, story-telling, politics, spirituality, and so much more, Laurie has created a tender, mysterious, beautiful roaming documentary on love and with that, the loss that, naturally and inevitably, comes with it. We do not have guides in our culture, death-obsessed as we are, to take us up to and escort us through that door, to the end of our life. But this new documentary comes as close to it as I have seen.
HEART OF A DOG
Yes. It is initially a story about her beloved rat terrier, Lolabelle. And who among us doesn’t or hasn’t loved a dog. Or a cat. Or our birdies? But Laurie was given so much free reign from the guys at Arte, who initially approach her a few years ago to consider doing a filmic essay on her “philosophy”, they really sort of forgot their proposition to her, and so Laurie embarked on what she described to me to be a “hobby” project.
Lolabelle died in 2011. The documentary travels a vision and soundscape of childhood flashbacks, thoughts about data collection and surveillance culture in our post-9/11 world and some thoughtful pondering on the Buddhist idea of afterlife, the “Bardo”. Along the way, some striking homages and tributes to her artist friends, musicians and thought people who have influenced Laurie.
What comes out, over several years of working on these loosely interlaced stories is a way to really look at our life. Even though she may be a reluctant guide for living through the mysteries of life that pop up, like that death thing, Laurie has shown the way. She has proposed questions without really giving answers. Allowed language to fall apart. Trusted her failures as perhaps Brian Eno taught her.
HBO will show the documentary in 2016. Check the LINKS below for a showing of Heart of a Dog in the immediate future. In short, the just over an hour long film is a conversation about the subject we don’t like to or know how to take on. Death. Even though we are obsessed by it. Laurie explores that moment of life ending, with her beloved Lolabelle, a dear artist friend, Gordon Matta-Clark, and her mother. But she leaves the last word to Lou Reed.
MOST IMPORTANTLY SEE Heart of a Dog at Cinema 21. It opens on 12/4/2015.
Read an incisive review from The New York Times by Manohla Dargis HERE.
And of course, more about Laurie is HERE.