REVIEW: 20,000 Days on Earth

20,000 Days On Earth - promo shot - lr

Directors: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard
Writing Credits: Nick Cave, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard

Cast: Nick Cave, Susie Bick, Warren Ellis

UK rating: 15 certificate
UK release date: 19th September

Words by Jonathan Glen / Follow him @joffglen


Veteran musician Nick Cave is no stranger to a crossover into film. The eclectic frontman of The Bad Seeds has written four screenplays, including acclaimed work with John Hillcoat on The Proposition and Lawless – though with 20,000 Days on Earth Cave is realising a cinematic vision that is completely different.

It is neither documentary nor narrative film, it is something totally new; the film is a musing on Nick Cave’s life, his career and his philosophies of life. That Cave is an interesting, cultured and intelligent focus means 20,000 Days on Earth is an engaging and enlightening prospect, but boy does he know it.20,000 Days On Earth - stage shot - sm, lr

The self-indulgent aspect of the film is striking from the beginning; Cave’s aloof engagement with subjects and the way he is probed by a psychologist figure creates an image of a man who believes what he has to say is important. That he is incredibly eloquent and gifted does give the film a certain gravitas however; fans will mop it up, and those who enter into Nick Cave’s world a non-believer may well leave as part of the faithful – he is a convincing compere.

But the expression of Nick Cave’s genius is ultimately engrossing, peppering 20,000 Days on Earth with just the right amount of musical interludes and filmed in a wonderfully controlled fluid motion – perfectly suiting the reflective style of the film. Cave pours over old pictures at an archive, chats casually to his band mate Warren Ellis; 20,000 Days on Earth  is about memory and how it defines us externally and internally.

And although Nick Cave is an inspired creator, 20,000 Days on Earth perhaps has deeper concerns that cannot be investigated in the frame he has created. The film concludes with the singer cemented as an oracular figure, which Cave may deserve for devising a film so different from other offerings; but different doesn’t always mean better.


20,000 Days on Earth – official trailer

20,000 Days On Earth - poster - lr

20,000 Days on Earth is out on UK release from 19th September. For more information, visit 

20,000 Days on Earth runs at the Electric Cinema (B’ham) from 19th – 25th September. For full Electric Cinema listings, visit 

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