Nick Cave, a name that leads us into a mysterious universe populated by almost mystical beings and elegant cultural icons with a decadent allure. One has to admit it, nothing is banal in his world. Everything can be transformed, adorned and falsified thanks to the power of the imagination.
This Australian rock poet has imposed himself in an (elegantly) violent way on the panorama of world rock music, thanks to his appearance and to a unique flair, made up of English class, but also, and above all, of a certain “je ne sais quoi” of the decadent, the noir and the destabilising: his enigmatic face, adorned with a black bob haircut after the style of a Wildian dandy from Carnaby Street, or even his tapering hands which can barely support some imposing rings with a cryptic significance. In spite of this, Cave has never fallen into the cliché of a certain gothic style, which has, unfortunately, and dangerously, become fashionable.
On the contrary, over the course of his career, he has known how to reinvent himself brilliantly. After the golden period with the Birthday Party, the group that symbolised the destructive rage of the punk movement, Nick Cave was able to reveal another side to his personality, more noir and introspective, bringing out memorable albums accompanied by his fellow musicians, the Bad Seeds.
20,000 Days on Earth presents a day in the life of the Brighton poet. Like a sinuous wave that rocks us throughout an hour and a half, it shows a NickCave who is at times fragile, compassionate and absolutely fascinating. The film by Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollard is not a documentary in the classic sense of the word, but a free dive into the mind of an artist who is incredibly profound, humane and surprising.
Through some unconventional interviews (one need only think of the sittings with his psychoanalyst and the improvised lunch with Warren Ellis, his long-time creative partner), which are surprising and profound, Nick Cave shows us his intimate world, his fears, but also what inspires him and drives him to express himself through music, literature and poetry.
20,000 Days on Earth enables us to take a peep through the chinks of the “celebrity”, NickCave. His artistic alter-ego shows us how much that is extraordinary and awe-inspiring lies behind the façade. Forsyth and Pollard’s film has a rare stylistic beauty: the shots of Cave’s past exhibitions are shown with a frenzy that almost reaches ecstasy.
It is all brought together thanks to a soundtrack (by Cave and Ellis) that rises and falls over the images like the song of a siren or even the call of a Muse. This sense of mystery, the perfect osmosis between reality and fiction, is brilliantly suggested by the almost magical apparition of various long-time collaborators of NickCave’s, like the actor Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue or even the sparkling Blix Bargel who shared a brief, but intense moment of intimacy with him.
It is a wonderful example of the extent to which creativity can transform reality into something grandiose.