DVD review: 20,000 Days on Earth - Nick Cave unmasked

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 March, 2015, 8:30pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 March, 2015, 8:30pm

20,000 Days on Earth
Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue
Directors: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard

There's always been an air of mystery surrounding Australian rocker Nick Cave, and this fascinating documentary adds to the enigma.

With Cave's help, co-directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard tantalise their audiences with a mixture of fact and fiction. There are scenes obviously played out simply for dramatic effect - and obviously fully scripted - and scenes in which the man and others peel back the layers that have been built around his career over the years.

So we are presented with revelations about and insights into Cave's creative processes, reflections on his relationships in and away from music, and a timeline of sorts of his own development as a human.

The best moments come when he drives the roads around Brighton, the seaside city that has become his home, with the likes of Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue and former Bad Seeds bandmate Blixa Bargeld along for the ride. Or when he sits down to be "interviewed" by British psychoanalyst and author Dr Darian Leader, who picks away at Cave's relationship with his father, among other issues.

The directors were originally brought in to help document the making of Cave and the Bad Seeds' 2013 release Push the Sky Away. The cameras capture the interplay between band members and chart the evolution of a few songs.

Of the staged scenes, it's the setting up of a mock "Nick Cave Archive" that is at turns revelatory and hilarious as pieces from the artist's past are brought before him for comment - photos and diaries, mostly. The musician proves not beyond mocking himself and his image as a brooding poet and explorer of the darker sides of the human condition.

Cave's script sees him waxing lyrical - as he tends to do - but with a wry grin on his face as he tries to both question and explain the nature of his being.

For fans of Cave and his music, this film is a must-see experience, but it's also an inspiring and inventive piece of cinema beyond its subject matter.

Extras: making-of featurette; extra scenes; trailer.