One More Time with Feeling (2016): Turning Trauma into Art

Written by cellardoor

 

     You enter the movie theatre and you stare with 100 other people at a black screen. Then the screen lights up, and after 15 minutes of meaningless commercials and movie promotions, it turns into black and white.

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     Shot with a 3D camera, director Andrew Dominik tried to capture the multi-faceted psychology of a man in grief. Even from the very start, you realise that ‘One More Time with Feeling’ stands no way near ‘20000 Days on Earth’, Nick Cave’s previous music documentary. Although both of them try to expose Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ musical creativity, ‘20000 Days on Earth’ just reveals the anxieties of an artist trying to cope with the passage of time and the impact it has on their creative work; on the other hand, in ‘One More Time with Feeling’, the artist is burdened not only by their life anxieties, but also by the trauma of losing a child.

     It’s interesting and heart-breaking at the same time to observe the differences between the two films, because you realise that it’s not just the bags under Nick Cave’s eyes that appeared after his son’s death (as Nick Cave puts it in the film), but more importantly, it’s the differences in the way his music is produced, and in the way he views life in general.

     In this film Nick Cave seems less confident, more unsure about what he says or does. His speech when addressing the camera is less stylised and scripted, as opposed to his 2014 documentary. As with the lyrics of his new songs, he doesn’t worry much about the order or choice of words anymore—he just lets them ‘spill’ all over, letting his emotional state determine the course of his thoughts.

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     And we are just left to wonder, as passive viewers of this man’s confession and emotional struggle, if going through a traumatic experience is not just like the way it’s depicted in this film. Dealing with our ghosts is not an easy thing, and Nick Cave’s sort of confessional documentary serves as a reminder of that. Sometimes our words fail us, sometimes we can’t stop moving the furniture around the house, sometimes we become obsessed with work in order to stop thinking, or at other times we refuse to see the kindness that remains in the world.

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     But despite our personal tragedy, we shouldn’t stop creating, laughing or loving. For love, as Nick Cave puts it, is a form of revenge against the darkness. Moving on is the only way to stop the pain, even if that means that ‘you got to sing the pain and the rain’ first in order to alleviate it. Nick Cave’s song, then, becomes our song, and 100 faces peering from the darkness of a movie theatre are urged to confess their own trauma (for every human being is traumatised to a different degree in some way or another). So onward and onward and onward we go, just one more time with feeling.

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