During the years where Nick Cave was living in Berlin, back in the 1980s, he was filmed for a Dutch documentary called Stranger in a Strange Land. Produced by Bram van Splunteren for the Dutch TV channel VPRO, you get a glimpse of the life of Nick Cave in Berlin even though some parts of the movie are voice-over in dutch. But you don’t need to worry about it, all the interviews with Nick Cave are in English.
Stranger in a Strange Land is a Dutch short documentary about Nick Cave in Germany that also includes his friends and partners in the Bad Seeds: Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, and Mark E Smith. And it’s interesting to see them speaking about their life and playing their music when they were so young! Take a look below and tell us what you think about the movie.
Nick Cave and his The Birthday Party came to Berlin after trying their luck in London. The Birthday Party moved from Australia to London in 1980 with the idea of joining a music scene that would the stronger and more interesting than the one they left behind. But, when in London, they realized that they were seen as outsiders, and they decided to move to Berlin.
In Berlin, The Birthday Party got a completely different response, and they felt like they’re being welcomed with open arms. These first years in Berlin were great, but they also brought the end to The Birthday Party. Nick Cave put together the Bad Seeds, with Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubauten who used to work at a bar called Risiko in West Berlin, and it sounded quasi-religious and morbid like what he was playing before.
In Stranger in a Strange Land, we see Nick Cave in Kreuzberg at this time. This is 1987, and he has been in West-Berlin for a while now, and he looks exactly how he looked like in Mark Reeder’s fantastic film B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin. But here, it gets a little bit weird.
The camera first follows Nick Cave while he plays piano somewhere that looks like Kreuzberg with the Berlin Wall in the back, and he starts to show his room to the camera. First, his collection of German Gothic painting, then his gun and his desk. The musician looks too young for the 30 years of age he has in the movie, and he seems disinterested in the whole film without making it look less appealing.
During his time in Berlin, Nick Cave recorded at the Hansa Ton Studios next to Potsdamer Platz, as David Bowie did a few years before. There, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds recorded “The Firstborn is Dead” in 1985, “Your Funeral … My Trial” in 1986 and, lastly, “Tender Prey” in 1988.
If you like to know more about Nick Cave and how West-Berlin used to be like in the 1980s, Stranger in a Strange Land is the documentary that you didn’t know you were looking! And, the picture on top is from Bleddyn Butcher and we managed to find it in an interview she gave to The Guardian in 2016.
If you’re interested in Nick Cave in Berlin, after watching the documentary here, we manage to find his house in Kreuzberg.