21 user 15 critic

The Heart of the World (2000)

Not Rated | | Short, Action, Fantasy | 7 October 2000 (USA)
A scientist chooses a wealthy man over her two lovers but must heal the earth's core to save humanity.


Guy Maddin


Guy Maddin
7 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Leslie Bais Leslie Bais ... Anna
Caelum Vatnsdal Caelum Vatnsdal ... Osip
Shaun Balbar ... Nikolai
Greg Klymkiw Greg Klymkiw ... Akmatov (as Hryhory Yulyanovitch Klymkyiev)


Nikolai, a mortician, and Osip, an actor playing Christ in a play, are brothers in love with the same woman. Anna, a state scientist and said woman, is in love with both brothers and studies the Earth's core, the very heart of the world. She discovers that the world is dying of heart failure and only has one more day remaining. Meanwhile, Akmatov, a bloated, capitalist bureaucrat lusts after Anna and tries to make her fall into her bed. Written by pr1mal_1

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Not Rated

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Did You Know?


References/parodies soviet montage cinema of the 1920s, German Expressionism of the 1920s, and silent melodrama film. See more »


References End of the World (1931) See more »


Time, Forward
Written by Georgi Sviridov (as Giorgi Sviridov)
With permission from the Sviridov Foundation and Meloydiya © 1968
See more »

User Reviews

Brilliant, distinctive, utterly original!

Guy Maddin is the most brilliant film-maker working today! If there's somebody better, that person must be labouring in obscurity. Maddin is strongly influenced by the disciplines of silent film, but his vision is unique, distinctive, and utterly original.

'The Heart of the World' could easily have been a throwaway film, given the circumstance of its origin. The Toronto Film Festival commissioned Maddin to make a brief film to fill a gap in their programming schedule. A mere time-passer. What Maddin gave them was utterly unexpected.

Maddin uses large-grain film stock and Klieg-style lighting techniques to replicate the look of silent film. Maddin's production design (costumes, makeup, hairstyling) impeccably recreates the images of that period. It's easy to believe that 'Heart of the World' is actually compiled from old UFA out-takes, circa 1925. Only just occasionally does Maddin's grasp on the 1920s show the joins, and then those lapses are probably intentional.

'The Hearts of the World' depicts the rivalry of two brothers. Nikolai is an idealist engineer. Osip is playing Jesus Christ in a passion play, and seems to have developed a genuine messiah complex. Amusingly, Osip does his Jesus routine whilst toting a cross made from metal girders ... an Art Deco crucifixion!

The brothers vie for the love of Anna, a beautiful scientist who has built a device which enables her to gaze into the Earth's core, literally the heart of the world. Meanwhile, a bloated plutocrat named Akmatov lusts for Anna. All of this is explained in silent-film titles, in a 1920s typeface that looks vaguely Cyrillic. The actors employ authentic silent-film acting techniques while resisting the temptation to 'guy' those methods or exaggerate them. The only lapse occurs when Anna suddenly vibrates her eyes back and forth while attempting to choose between the two brothers. This seems to be Maddin's intentional parody of silent-film acting. For the rest of the film, his homage to the past is sincere.

I spent a delightful six minutes trying to spot all the references and influences in this movie. Maddin is clearly influenced by 'Metropolis' (my favourite film), but I also spotted the influences of 'Aelita', 'Vampyr', 'Potemkin' and 'Haxan' in this frenzied melange. This is not to accuse Maddin of plagiarism. He displays his influences openly, using them as a foundation for a vision uniquely his own. It's refreshing to see a 21st-century filmmaker who acknowledges a debt to silent films, in an industry filled with Tarantino wanna-bes and counterfeit Hitchcocks.

'The Heart of the World' is one of the most distinctive, exciting and exhilarating movies I have ever seen. No doubt of it: I rate this movie 10 out of 10, and I look forward to more work by this filmmaker whose work is at once utterly alien yet enticingly accessible.

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Release Date:

7 October 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

H καρδιά του κόσμου See more »

Filming Locations:

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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