Myocardial deformation and strain can be investigated using suitably encoded cine MRI that admits disambiguation of material motion. Practical limitations currently restrict the analysis to in-plane motion in cross-sections of the heart (2D + time), but the proposed method readily generalizes to 3D + time. We propose a new, promising methodology, which departs from a multiscale algorithm that exploits local scale selection so as to obtain a robust estimate for the velocity gradient tensor field. Time evolution of the deformation tensor is governed by a first-order ordinary differential equation, which is completely determined by this velocity gradient tensor field. We solve this matrix-ODE analytically and present results obtained from healthy volunteers as well as from patient data. The proposed method requires only off-the-shelf algorithms and is readily applicable to planar or volumetric tagging MRI sampled on arbitrary coordinate grids.