Other Sides

Loving and Grieving with Heart of a Dog and Merleau-Ponty's Depth

in Projections

Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s existential phenomenology has been crucial to contemporary film-phenomenology, yet his later thought has not received the same attention. Drawing on “Eye and Mind” and other writings, I apply the philosopher’s ontological concept of depth to the cinema. Using Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog (2015), an intimate, experimental portrait of animal life, death, grief, and loss, I approach Anderson’s film as “depthful” cinema, bringing Heart of a Dog into a dialogue with Merleau-Ponty, the film essay, and the lyrical film. Through its diffractions of the subjective “eye/I,” its poetic approach to grief, and its openness to nonhuman ways of being, I argue that Anderson’s film is in accord with Merleau-Ponty’s later thinking on depth in art and in the world.

Projections

The Journal for Movies and Mind