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Heart of a Dog

When her mother, her partner Lou Reed and her dog Loolabelle die in short succession, multimedia artist Laurie Anderson decides to film HEART OF A DOG, a meandering collage about death and the art of saying good bye.


Multimedia pioneer Laurie Anderson had a rat terrier – an American dog breed bred for fights in the “rat pit,” which involved killing as many rats as possible as quickly as possible. Anderson’s rat terrier was called Loolabelle and she had a trainer, Elizabeth, who taught the dog how to paint, sculpt, and play the piano. Laurie Anderson found the Christmas record which Loolabelle recorded – an avant-garde interpretation of “Jingle Bells” – not bad. When Anderson’s mother, her life partner Lou Reed, and Loolabelle died one after the other she filmed HEART OF A DOG as a sort of goodbye song and a reflection on death and dying. HEART OF A DOG is a poetic, associative film. Anderson’s voice – both elegiac and ironic, solemn and funny – shows associative and alienating visuals of super 8 family films, drawings, documentary sprinkles, video diaries, impressions of nature, souvenirs, and visions. Advice from her Tibetan teacher Mingyur Rinpoche (“learn to feel sad without being sad”) and stories from the Tibetan Book of the Dead play as much of a role as the Buddhist idea of “Bardo,” the in-between world, where the dead are supposed to be stripped of earthly things and desire. HEART OF A DOG is like an illustrated soundtrack, it invites you to follow Anderson’s associations, relax, and to let your own ideas flow in. The soundtrack, which includes Anderson’s voice and music, also came out as an album. HEART OF A DOG works as a radio play too. Anderson fans should still watch the film first which creates additional associative spaces.

Hannes Stein

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Frankreich/USA 2015, 75 min
Language: English
Genre: Documentary, Essay Film
Director: Laurie Anderson
Author: Laurie Anderson
DOP: Toshiaki Ozawa, Laurie Anderson, Joshua Zucker-Pluda
Montage: Melody London, Katherine Nolfi
Music: Laurie Anderson
Distributor: Arsenal Filmverleih
Cast: Jason Berg, Bob Currie, Dustin Guy Defa
Release: 24.03.2016




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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