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Laurie Anderson explains her experimental documentary 'Heart of a Dog'

by Darby Maloney | The Frame

A still from Laurie Anderson’s "Heart of a Dog." Courtesy of Abramorama/HBO Documentary Films

The film "Heart of a Dog" is an experimental documentary by performance artist, musician and composer Laurie Anderson. The film is less a coherent narrative than a series of stories about death, motherhood, love and creativity.

Click the play button to hear Laurie Anderson reflect on the creation of "Heart of a Dog" scored with original music and excerpts from the film.

Anderson told The Frame:

The construction of stories in this film is what it's about. It's a film about stories. How they're made. What they are. And in the middle of it is a book — "The Tibetan Book of the Dead."

When asked how the movie came to be, Anderson said simply:

I was asked by ARTE — a French/German TV outfit — to make a personal essay film. They said, You know, like your philosophy of life. And I said, Oh, I don't have one. 

It was suggested that she begin with stories about LolaBelle, her rat terrier who had died. From there she went on to tell stories about her mother's death, people in her life growing up and experiences from her childhood. But she's quick to say that "Heart of a Dog" isn't a self-portrait.

It's not a portrait of me at all. I am a character in it. I am a kid skating. I am a person in a cartoon. I am the eye of the narration in the film. But it doesn't weirdly refer necessarily to me. 

Anderson says that originally the film was only supposed to be 20 minutes, but now, "It's four times as long and two years late and, as it turns out, it is my philosophy of life."

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