20,000 Days On Earth

Writer and musician Nick Cave marks his 20,000th day on the planet Earth.

I went along to the preview screening of the partly fictionalised Nick Cave documentary, ‘20,000 Days On Earth’ at my local independent, Cameo, last night, and thoroughly enjoyed this interesting and insightful film. The origins of the film began as a standard documentary, capturing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds as they recorded their most recent album, ‘Push The Sky Away’, before turning into something else entirely when the directors (Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard) realised they had something greater on their hands.

Part truth, part fiction, the film is a fascinating insight into Cave’s mindset, his songwriting process and his memories, with details spread out across conversations in a psychiatrist’s office, driving in a car with Ray Winstone and Kylie, and exploring his archive. One of the key themes explored throughout is the nature of memory, and how the past informs our selfs and our future, and it’s clear this weighs heavily on Cave’s mind as he grows older. Nick Cave has always been a musician that warrants fascination beyond his stage persona, and this is a candid exploration of the things that make him tick. Around these aspects of the film, we also get to see some of the latest tracks being recorded which is frankly terrific (particularly enjoyed Warren Ellis talking to the little French kids during ‘Push The Sky Away’!), and Warren Ellis is fantastic value as well, bringing some terrific stories and a bit of comedy to proceedings.

The film itself is a treat for fans, although I believe non-fans will still get a lot out of the movie in terms of its view of the song creation process. Interestingly, this was the first preview screening of a music doc I’ve seen, and it was followed with (and before) some interviews and live performances with the directors and the band. This part was hosted in the Barbican cinema in London, and screened nationwide, and it was an unusual experience for me. Edith Bowman was the host, and the best way to describe her would be unprepared – her questions were scattered and you could tell Cave just wanted to get on with playing some songs for the audience. Forsyth and Pollard are clearly gifted filmmakers, but they weren’t particularly insightful in the Q&A session (although I blame Bowman as much as them). So yeah, that was interesting, but not as enjoyable as I’d hoped (although it was good hearing Cave turn out some classics such as ‘The Weeping Song’ and ‘Into My Arms’).

Overall, this is a terrific documentary film about the enigma that is Nick Cave, and about the songwriting process in general. I highly recommend it.

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard

Starring: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue



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