Heart of a Dog

Watch Heart of a Dog

  • TV-PG
  • 2016
  • 1 hr 15 min
  • 7.0  (2,536)
  • 84

Heart of a Dog is a deeply personal and philosophical documentary directed by Laurie Anderson, an experimental musician, artist, and performer. It is a meditation on life, death, loss, and the nature of consciousness, inspired by the death of Anderson's beloved rat terrier, Lolabelle. The film weaves together various visual and sonic elements, including animation, home movies, archival footage, poetry, and music, to create a dreamlike and non-linear narrative that invites the viewer to contemplate some of the most fundamental and universal questions of human existence.

The film begins with a series of images that suggest the fragility and transience of life, such as clouds, waves, and water droplets. Anderson's voice-over, accompanied by images of Lolabelle and other dogs, sets the tone for the film: "What is the soul? Some say it is the invisible part of us that leaves the body at death. Others say it is the essence, the incorporeal, the life force, the animating principle. Some say the soul is the thing that makes us most human. But what if it is just a small light, like the light on a firefly, flickering inside the darkness?"

The film then takes a more personal turn, as Anderson recounts the story of Lolabelle's life and death. She describes how she adopted the dog from a shelter and trained her to play the piano, using a special keyboard that produced different notes when Lolabelle pressed the keys with her paws. Anderson sees this as a way to "free her from her fears", as she was traumatized by the events of 9/11, which she witnessed from the rooftop of Anderson's apartment. The film shows footage of Lolabelle playing the piano and interacting with Anderson and other people, creating a sense of affection and intimacy between them.

However, the film also deals with the difficult and painful realities of aging, illness, and death. Lolabelle develops cancer and has to undergo a series of surgeries and treatments, which Anderson compares to the "Roman circus" of modern medicine. She also reflects on her own mortality and the loss of other loved ones, including her mother and her husband, Lou Reed. Anderson's voice-over is often poetic and philosophical, but also laced with humor and irony, as when she comments on the absurdity of the medical jargon used by the doctors and the "death industry" of funeral homes and crematoriums.

One of the most striking and memorable parts of the film is Anderson's dream sequences, in which she imagines Lolabelle's journey after death. She envisions her flying over Manhattan, encountering other deceased animals and humans, and finally meeting a giant white dog, which she identifies as her mother. These dreamscapes are created using various animation techniques, such as stop-motion, hand-drawn sketches, and digital effects, and are accompanied by Anderson's original music, which blends electronic and acoustic sounds, spoken words, and songs. The result is a surreal and beautiful representation of the afterlife, which challenges conventional notions of heaven, hell, and reincarnation.

Another important theme of the film is the relationship between memory, imagination, and identity. Anderson reflects on the ways in which our memories of the past shape our perceptions of the present and the future, and how our imagination can help us cope with loss and change. She also discusses the concept of "emotional architecture", which she defines as the network of feelings and associations that underlie our sense of self and our interactions with others. She suggests that our emotional architecture is constantly evolving and adapting, and that art and creativity can help us explore its limits and potentials.

Heart of a Dog is a moving and thought-provoking film that defies easy categorization. It is part memoir, part essay, part elegy, and part visual poem. It invites the viewer to engage with complex and universal themes in a personal and intimate way, and to reflect on the mysteries and wonders of life and death. It is a testament to Anderson's talent as a multi-disciplinary artist and her ability to create works that are both intellectually ambitious and emotionally resonant.

Heart of a Dog is a 2016 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 15 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0 and a MetaScore of 84.

Heart of a Dog
Where to Watch Heart of a Dog
Heart of a Dog is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Heart of a Dog for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 15 min
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (2,536)
  • Metascore