Guy Maddin | The Heart of the World | My Dad Is 100 Years Old

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Guy Maddin

The Heart of the World

The Heart of the World (2000) is a brilliantly made short film. It is both a spoof and a loving recreation of Soviet silent film. It is also an inventive movie in its own right. It is so full of images, one rapidly following the other in montage style, that it feels like it has the imagery and storytelling of a much longer movie.

The Heart of the World echoes a number of specific Russian silent films. Its science fiction plot recalls Jacob Protazanov's Aelita, Queen of Mars (1924), although the two plots are very different in detail. So do its scenes of the heroine looking through a telescope. As in Protazanov's film, this is an elaborate piece of machinery.

The sinister industrialist in The Heart of the World recalls the similarly caricatured businessman in Sergei Eisenstein's Strike (1924).

The dynamic, brilliantly pulsing montage of The Heart of the World seems patterned after Dziga Vertov's The Man With a Movie Camera (1929). The Heart of the World ends with a celebration of cinema, with characters holding up big banners and saying "Kino", the Russian word for film. This celebration of film is one of the main subjects of The Man With a Movie Camera. And the score of The Heart of the World spoofs the celebrated score written by the Alloy Orchestra for The Man With a Movie Camera.

There are non-Russian silent films echoed here as well. The elaborate shadows on the wall recall such German Expressionist films as Murnau's Nosferatu (1922). And the title echoes D. W. Griffith's Hearts of the World (1918). The long cannon barrel through which the heroine climbs recalls the diagrammatic chute in Roland West's expressionistic thriller, The Bat (1926).

My Dad Is 100 Years Old

My Dad Is 100 Years Old (2005) is a short film (17 minutes) about Roberto Rossellini written by and staring his daughter Isabella Rossellini. It is highly recommended. It is mainly a Socratic dialogue, celebrating Rossellini's belief that film can inform, and the value of knowledge and thinking. It is a powerful, idealistic and challenging work - asking us all what we are doing to promote the growth and spread of human knowledge. Not always an easy question to face.

The film is full of life and birth imagery, just as The Heart of the World was full of death imagery. It might be Maddin's other most important film, after that work. The film is also a meditation on animals, and the color white. Gender roles are continually crossed in the film.