The first film I ever saw by Guy Maddin was a short called The Heart of the World. Produced for the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival, its six minutes of brilliance exhibiting everything wonderful about the worlds of Guy Maddin and the power that cinema can hold over us.
It’s got everything of modern day blockbusters: money, sex, having to choose who and what to love along with a dash of the end of the world. Filled with quick cuts on par with Michael Bay and fabulous music, this is a film for modern times while being a love letter to early cinema that has entranced so many viewers.
This makes the film seem fairly simple and arbitrary, but it is anything but. As many fans of Guy Maddin know too well, it is an understatement to say his films are delicately constructed and at times difficult to follow. Over the course of his career he has cultivated a way of producing that anoints him clearly into the auteur category. His worlds are beautifully constructed layers of film solution wrapped around narratives of a timeless fashion. Everything has a certain morose, decaying punctuation mixed with an incredible wit and erotic sensibilities that force you to laugh at the absurdities of the world.
But, nothing is simply homage or shock. At the heart of this tale are very personal considerations about the follies of our existence and how we derail our paths in the search to be whole. Maddin sees the world torn between bits of artificial happiness whose attraction simply reinforces the root of the problem. We need to get to the heart of the matter and bring it something of truth.
And what, might you ask, is the heart of the matter? What is The Heart of the World? Film, of course. What else could it be?
By far my favorite Maddin film with The Saddest Music in the World coming in at a very close second, it is the type of expression where everything works. He tells a full narrative that is insightful, entertaining and true. We see what Maddin loves most about films and why he chooses the aesthetic that he does. And yet, he also goes beyond to instill in us considerations about life wrapped in a little mystery, a little thrill and a little distance from our day to day.
Garrett D. Tiedemann 2/18/12
If you haven’t seen the film you can find it here: