123123123The Heart of the World
The short film, “The Heart of the World” is without doubt a masterpiece. The film is short only in the sense that it runs for only 6 minutes. However, in terms of substance and content, it is a full-length movie for all intents and purposes. It carries a rich plot which is elaborately played out. It is amazing how Maddin was able to sew together all the scenes into a six-minute film.
There were a lot of things that happened within the span of six minutes but for me, the scenes that left its mark are those towards the end when Anna killed Akmatov. The scene is loaded with symbolisms and carries a strong political statement. But before I go to that specific scene, there is a need to at least describe the preceding scenes to set the premise and provide a holistic review of that specific segment of the film.
The scene starts with the title honeymoon which implies that Akmatov succeeded in seducing Anna with his money and the two got married. Anna, dressed in white with a band of flowers around her head was shown smiling as she beckons someone to her side. Anna was lying on her back on what looked like a couch or a bed filled with pillows. This was followed by the shadow imagery showing a man flirting with a woman. The man was trying to tickle the woman with his playful fingers. The close up shot of Akmatov reveals the identity of the man who was with Anna.
After their foreplay, Akmatov dove into Anna’s bosom. The scenes that followed showed a cannon barrel firing several shots, a woman who fell flat on her face and a close up shot of Akmatov wiping his mouth in sheer satisfaction. This series of frames depicts consummated sexual intercourse between Anna and Akmatov. The cannon barrel represents the dominant male sex while the fallen woman represents the submissive female sex. The picture of Akmatov wiping his mouth represents sexual satisfaction and satiation.
After their honeymoon, Anna remembered her duty to save the world. But she cannot do that with Akmatov around so she had to strangle and kill him. He killed Akmatov so that she could go the core of the earth and become the new and better heart of the world.
The message is loud and clear. Eliminating commercialism and greed for wealth is the only way to clear the path for saving the world. Too much industrialization has polluted the earth and depleted its resources. Too much commercialism fuels industrialization. And too much greed for money pushes man to commercialism even at the expense of the planet that supports every form of life on earth.
Akmatov represents the greedy industrialists who are just concerned about what they could get from the planet and its people. They extract its resources to the last drop, accumulate wealth and then use this wealth to abuse the helpless and defenseless population. They just take whatever they can without regard to its consequences.
Anna represents the scientists and scholars who have long been fighting the crusade to save the earth from further destruction. They travel to the depths of the ocean, dig deep into the earth and even fly into the outer space in search for solutions to the inevitable destruction of the planet. The foreplay represents the lust for power and wealth which has brought our world to where it is now. Oftentimes, the conservationists succumb to the industrialists for reasons ranging from lack of resources to continue the fight to lack of strong will to resist the temptation of money. The honeymoon scene represents the current state of the world as seen through the eyes of Guy Maddin while the murder scene represents the filmmaker’s idealist wishes were the good always triumphs over evil.
Anna sacrificed herself just to give the world a second chance. She offered herself to become the new heart of the world so that it may continue beating for others. She had to die so that others may live. She is the embodiment of the only hope of the world. No, no one needs to die. What is needed is selflessness in everyone. If all people think about the common good over and above their personal interests, then everything will be just fine.
Guy Maddin has so eloquently delivered his message throughout the film. The fact that it is a silent film makes it even more persuasive and poignant; its subtle suggestions go far into the subconscious mind. Indeed, action speaks louder than words. The lack of dialogues in the film forces the viewers to focus more and to watch the film as it is, without the nuisance of spoken language. As Stan Brakhage has succinctly declared in Metaphors on Vision, “there is a pursuit of knowledge foreign to language and founded upon visual communication, demanding a development of the optical mind, and dependent upon perception in the original and deepest sense of the word.” (120)
The film would also qualify as a Kinoks film as described in the famous article, We: Variant of a Manifesto, where Dziga Vertov declared that, “We are cleansing kinochestvo of foreign matter—of music, literature, and theater; we seek our own rhythm, one lifted from nowhere else and we find it in the movements of things.” (7) Although Maddin’s film makes use of background music, it played in harmony with the frenzied pace of the frames. The music played with the rhythm of the film and not the other way around. Hence, it still effectively conveys its message without need of any spoken words or startling sound effects.
Eventually, the film effortlessly carries its message across borders, breaking down language barriers that prevent people from different parts of the world to work harmoniously together towards a better future for the planet and all its inhabitants. Anyone with an open mind can watch the film and get the message embedded within its frenzied frames. Silent movies are not just a class of its own within the realm of filmmaking. Rather, it is a medium of its own in facilitating communication between and among the people of the earth. “They create a new language made possible by the moving picture image.” (Brakhage 121)

Works Cited:

Brakhage, Stan. From Metaphors on Vision, in The Avant-Garde Film: A Reader of Theory and Criticism, ed. P. Adams Sitney (New York: Anthology Film Archives, 1978), pp. 120-128.
The Heart of the World. Dir. Maddin, Guy. 2000 Short film.
Venkov, Dziga. We: Variant of a Manifesto.

123123123 8.8 of 10 on the basis of 3343 Review.