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Film review: 20,000 Days On Earth


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You couldn’t make a conventional documentary about Nick Cave. Nick Cave is not a conventional human being.

Nick CaveHe is a rock icon with a legend usually reserved for those who have passed into death, he is a carefully constructed icon, an image not a “man”.

“At the end of the twentieth century I ceased to be a man,” exclaims Cave’s deep voice at the start of 20,000 Days On Earth, a day in the life (or life in a day) tale of the enigmatic leader of The Birthday Party, The Bad Seeds and writer of some of the best movies of the past decade.

Part monologue, part insight into his relationships with the people in his life, part studio document and live show and part art-house experiment, along with Cave, directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard have created a fragmented, raw and vivid approximation of Cave’s creative persona.

The combination of drama and reality is really the only possible way to forge a view of Nick Cave’s current existence. He is man whose relationship with reality is a carefully constructed drama, at which he hints in a discussion with Ray Winstone stating that as a rock star he always has to be seen to be a rock star.

Cut together with snippets of the past (live performances, photos, memories) and the present all filtered through Cave's personal take on events it creates a unique movie.

In response to the fact that unlikely collaborator (and star of his biggest hit) Kylie Minogue has read his autobiography he quips, “but that’s not the truth though.” You get the impression throughout that some of this is deep revelation about the man himself and some of it is carefully constructed mythology.

None of this matters as the whole thing creates an intimate portrayal of the artistic process and Cave’s mind. Ultimately, the film examines what makes us who we are and celebrates the power of true creativity.

20,000 Days On Earth is thought-provoking, beautiful, moving and at times funny – with some of Cave’s performances featured capable of rousing serious emotions.

There will be no other film made like this, because it is ultimate spawned from the mind of a man who is like no other.

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