20,000 Days on Earth
- English subtitles
Drama and reality come together. In a fictional 24 hours in the life of musician and global cultural icon Nick Cave, he gives us a surprisingly candid insight as well as an intimate portrait of the artistic process. The film explores what it is that makes us who we are and celebrates the transformative power of the creative mind.
Artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard are pioneers in using re-enactment in contemporary art, and became known for their reconstructions of important cultural moments, such as their much-acclaimed A Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide, an accurate live recreation of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. Music plays an important role in their work. Also notable are the sound installation they made with Scott Walker at the Sydney Opera House, subliminal sound experiments with Jason Pierce (Spiritualized) and a video artwork featuring rapper Plan B in his first ever on-screen performance. One of the rewards for their work was making this screen adaptation of what is allegedly the twenty-thousandth day in the life of Cave. 20,000 Days on Earth premiered at Sundance 2014, where it won awards for directing and editing. The screenplay was co-written by the biographed master himself.
It’s no coincidence that someone like Cave, overly conscious of the fact that your own life is actually a mythology in your own mind, automatically turns off Kylie Minogue’s Can’t get you out of my head on the car radio when he drives his Jaguar through Brighton. Towards the end of the film that wild rose will rise once more for the occasion in his backseat. In the course of this weird rockumentary we witness Cave breathing life into his songs. The angel of death reveals quite preciously what the creative process means to him and how the parallels relate to human life. His biggest fear is losing his memory, which would mean no more hunting for memories of the moments in which the youthful heart actually changed gears.
What makes 20,000 Days on Earth stand out is the overview of the man and his art, in which the creation (of an illusion) is shown as something that happens organically – from poetic musings, casual encounters, ghostly visitations and good old Freudian psychoanalysis. Die-hard Bad Seeds fans probably don’t need this sophisticated philosophising anymore, but they can rest assured: sooner or later, and for better or worse, you always return to your own memory cave. This film meets the demands of a biographical documentary in a manner that’s as playful as fiction, and there is probably no better disguise. The unfathomable stage god has spoken wonderfully again!
Translation: Marjan Westbroek
The screening of 20,000 Days on Earth was made possible by IDFA.