Nick Cave is a cinematic kind of guy. His whole persona, image and style feels like something out of 70’s Hollywood mixed with a horror movie. He is larger than life in personality and music, and his forays into filmmaking as a screenwriter, soundtrack creator, and documentary subject have all been triumphant. His music creates worlds and his albums tell tales so we began to think, which of his songs would make great movies? Here are five of those:
“The Curse of Milhaven,” from Murder Ballads
Never has serial murder been so catchy. “The Curse of Milhaven” is the story of Loretta, a murderous teen with yellow hair and green eyes (or maybe it’s the other way around). It is rich in characters and Cave paints the setting in two coats. Loretta prowls around killing those she believes deserve to die until she is caught and sent away. The movie would put us in the head of the serial killer at work and take us along with her as she kills indiscriminately. Part gruesome horror, part strange town comedy about a murderous misfit, there’s really only one name that could be attached to this: David Lynch
“Dig, Lazarus, Dig,” from Dig, Lazarus, Dig
Cave likes his albums to have themes and narrative. For the album Dig, Lazarus, Dig the narrative is structured around the idea that the original escape artist was the biblical Lazarus, and what if he lived forever, and what if he was Houdini. The song tells the story of his travels across America and the mischief he got up to. A road movie about an immortal Houdini? What’s not to like? Cast Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular character and I’m completely down for this.
“Jubilee Street,” from Push the Sky Away
The story of a London prostitute and the man who loves her. A movie about the history of prostitution in London, or the story of a man driven to murder by his relationship with a woman on Jubilee Street, or maybe the story of two people locked in a relationship doomed to destroy them both? Either way it would be dark, moody, and transcendent. You only need to watch the music video (starring the incomparable Ray Winston) to see a trailer for the kind of movie it should be. And as the music video is directed by frequent Cave collaborator John Hillcoat, might as well give him the movie too
“The Mercy Seat,” from Tender Prey
We love prison stories. As a genre it is rich in redemption stories and full of obvious heroes and villains. Cave’s “The Mercy Seat” tells the story of a man dragged from his home and put on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. He says he is not afraid to die and he says he is innocent and in the end he says that he is lying. Imagine The Shawshank Redemption but the twist is that Andy really did commit the murder. A dark, psychological horror of a song would make a similar kind of film. This feels like something that David Fincher could go wild in with Brad Pitt as the “innocent” man, ready to meet his God.
“The Lyre of Orpheus,” from The Abattoir Blues
This is an easy one. A narrative song retelling the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, or at least a version of it. A good filmmaker would just need to get out of the way of the song and let it run. It would be a gruesome rom com about a musician whose instrument causes living creatures to die in various horrific ways until God smites him with a hammer that sends him to Hell. Might not sound that funny here but you’ll get it when you listen to the song. I feel like this is a Guillermo Del Toro joint or something that could have made by a young Peter Jackson.
Featured Image: Mojo