Nick Cave is a mesmeric performer, though it may take some time for the unfamiliar to absorb his musical prowess. Those with patience and a willingness to delve far into his music will be rewarded. The film 20,000 Days on Earth is a revelatory telling of Cave’s life in his own words. For Cave fans, the film is a peek inside his work and ethos of writing songs and making music. Casual observers will get a taste of what they have been missing. This is not a typical documentary where a narrator walks through the artist’s life and work, here Cave is the narrator walking the viewer through his life and work. He is a cultural icon, to be sure, but this film humanizes him and makes him more accessible to his fans.
In their debut feature directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard fuse drama and documentary while exploring Cave’s creative songwriting processes. It’s interesting to see Cave visit long-time collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis and listen to their tales from the road, a shared musicality. The directors also feature Cave in a series of vignettes with characters from his past, including actor Ray Winstone, guitarist Blixa Bargeld, and Kylie Minogue, who shared a duet with Cave in the breakout hit "Where the Wild Roses Grow."
The people visit Cave in dream-like scenes as he chats with them while driving his car and they ride along as passengers. The film also contains intense live performances as well as the band working out songs in recording studios. Cave’s words morph into songs with his band infusing music into becoming a whole.
The directors have worked with Cave extensively on various projects over the past seven years. Cave says, "I've always liked their unorthodox approach to things and on a personal level we have always gotten on very well. I invited them into La Fabrique Studios to film some promotional footage for (the 2013 album) Push the Sky Away. As it turned out, in the end, they shot everything and the studio footage was so compelling we decided to expand the idea."
Cave also opens up to a psychoanalyst as he discusses how his early years continue to inform his work. It’s a treat for his longtime fans.
A writer and performer of lyrically bold songs, Nick Cave has been making music for nearly four decades. He has written songs as the lead singer of the Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Grinderman. He's also a film score composer, screenwriter, novelist and occasional actor.
Special Features on the 20,000 Days on Earth release includes a Making-of featurette, nearly 1 hour of deleted and extended scenes and a 14-page booklet with interviews with the filmmakers and Cave. The DVD, Blu-ray and digital downloads will be released on November 18, 2014.