FILM: One More Time With Feeling

FILM: One More Time With Feeling

“I just can’t fathom it.” We are only a few frames into One More Time With Feeling – a documentary film directed by Andrew Dominik and shot during the recording of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 16th album Skeleton Tree – and Warren Ellis is struggling to make sense of it all. Whilst it has not yet been mentioned by name, you strongly sense that the Bad Seeds’ multi-instrumentalist and Nick Cave’s chief musical collaborator is speaking about the death of Cave’s 15 year old son Arthur in July of last year after he fell from a cliff in Brighton and the devastating impact that this tragedy has had upon Cave and his family.

One More Time With Feeling began life as a much more conventional performance-based concept but evolved into something else altogether as it began to explore issues surrounding loss, grief and love. Financed by Cave himself, filming for the documentary commenced a mere six months after the fateful accident. Cave’s motivation for commissioning the film was due in part to him not wanting to have to speak directly to journalists about the death of his son during any promotional work for the new album. As the film unfolds it proves what an incredibly brave decision that he and his family had made.

Filmed over 10 days and shot in black and white 2D and 3D – save for one scene when the song ‘Distant Sky’ and Else Torp’s beautiful soprano burst into glorious technicolour and a strangely empty feeling of euphoria – One More Time With Feeling takes several songs from Skeleton Tree as they are played in full at London’s Air Studios and weaves them together with conversations between Andrew Dominik and Cave, his wife Susie Bick and Warren Ellis. Nick Cave’s voiceover – often recorded on his own iPhone – serves as an eerie counterpoint as he reflects upon the creative process and the feelings he is struggling to deal with.

One More Time With Feeling is a deeply moving experience as we are invited in to witness Nick Cave and his family at their most exposed, their most vulnerable. This is never more apparent than in the scene where Susie Bick produces a framed picture that Arthur had painted when he was a young boy. To add even greater poignancy, it is of a scene not far from where he would eventually lose his life. It feels uncomfortably intrusive to be watching at such close quarters two parents having to deal with the immeasurable loss of their child.

Yet for all of the deep discomfort this film may generate within the viewer, it is ultimately an extraordinary emotional triumph.  One More Time With Feeling – a line taken from the song ‘Magneto’ on Skeleton Tree – is an authentic, honest and personal account of how one family are striving to make some sort of sense out of the trauma that they are having to face on a daily basis whilst ordinary life just goes on all around them. It tells us much about deep familial love and the enduring strength of the human spirit and as the final credits roll and the audience file out of the picture house in what is a completely stunned silence, most of us can only begin to comprehend the acute suffering that it can take to inform this.

One More Time With Feeling was shown in more than 800 cinemas worldwide on 8th September 2016, immediately prior to the release of Skeleton Tree the following day.

Official video of ‘Jesus Alone’, the opening track from Skeleton Tree and the first song to be heard on One More Time With Feeling.

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