Musician/screenwriter Nick Cave has a history of doing things his own way. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that the biographic 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH skews further away from a documentary, more towards an arthouse film.
20,000 DAYS follows Cave around as he’s chronicling his own history to friends and his therapist. One of the reasons behind this is Cave expressing his greatest fear of losing his memory. His memory, he states, is his greatest tool in writing, whether for a song or for a script. He uses memories to shape his character interactions, emotions, and reactions.
A good portion of 20,000 DAYS is his song writing process, both on his own and with his band. We get to witness the evolution of a song from scribblings in his notebook until fans are singing along at a concert.
I’ve been a fan of Cave’s work since hearing the album MURDER BALLADS however 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH cemented him as a favorite artist. It can be difficult to open up about your creative process but he bares his soul for all. Rolled out creatively through his narrative as well as conversations with friends and colleagues that may just be in his head as he’s driving.
One great thing about the film is the glimpse at Cave’s working relationship and friendship with Warren Ellis (not to be confused with the author). Ellis is a quiet person in general throughout the movie but once he begins playing music, he transforms into this whirling dervish. He adds such a frenetic energy to Cave’s reserved voice, lifting him up when needed but still able to slow down to give Cave’s lyrics even more depth.
20,000 DAYS ON EARTH is highly recommended for any fans of the creative process, no matter the art form. It will send you on a ride and give you an appreciation for Cave’s contributions to music.
20,000 DAYS ON EARTH is now available on DVD/Bluray/digital through Drafthouse Films.