DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
HEART OF THE WORLD, THE (director/writer: Guy Maddin; cinematographer: Guy Maddin; editor: deco dawson/Guy Maddin; cast: Leslie Bais (Anna), Caelum Vatnsdal (Osip), Shaun Balbar (Nikolai), Hryhory Yulyanovitch Klymkyiev (Akmatov), Tammy Gillis (Mary Magdalene), Carson Nattrass (Centurion); Runtime: 6; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jody Shapiro; Zeitgeist Video; 2000-Canada)

 
"Bizarre experimental 6-minute short."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Guy Maddin's ("Archangel"/"Twilight of the Ice Nymphs"/"Tales from the Gimli Hospital") bizarre experimental 6-minute short was commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival. It's a parody of a silent Soviet propaganda epic, looking very much like an Eisenstein and Vertov classic, but meant to be seen by today's audience as a modern work. Maddin filmed for five days in a disused steel factory in Winnipeg. The intertitle “kino,” the Russian word for “film,” gets repeated many times and especially near the end.

There's a breathless story unfolding through rapidly shot montages about a woman named “Anna, state scientist” trying to choose between two brothers - Nikolai (”youth, mortician”) and Osip (”an actor playing Christ in the Passion Play”) - who both are in love with her. There are phallic symbols, visionary heroes and the attempt to submerge a full-length melodrama into this short film. 

Anna's work leads her to say “the world is dying of heart failure!” Unable to choose which brother, along comes  “dark horse,” “Akmatov, the industrialist”–a fat cigar smoker man of wealth, who apparently causes “the World’s Fatal Heart Attack!” once he has the delirious Anna committed to be his woman.

It's difficult to say if that's the complete story, as it's a film that invites many viewings. But the more you see it, doesn't mean that things get any clearer--just more interesting.

REVIEWED ON 10/1/2009       GRADE: A

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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