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"The best and most terrifying film," according to Nick Cave

Australian icon Nick Cave is undoubtedly one of the greatest songwriters of our time, a musician that has maintained his artistic momentum by producing one of the greatest albums of the year with Warren Ellis in Carnage. Cave has also composed the scores for modern masterpieces such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and has even made acting appearances in multiple projects including Wim Wenders’ magnum opus Wings of Desire.

Cave has been deeply influenced by cinema as well as literature, citing the likes of William Faulkner and Vladimir Nabokov as the driving forces behind his own artistic vision. In addition, Cave has proven that he has serious screenwriting talent and was even pushed by Russell Crowe to draft a screenplay for a sequel to Crowe’s iconic film Gladiator but the studio wouldn’t go ahead with it.

The screenwriting project that did come to fruition was The Proposition, a brilliant Australian western by John Hillcoat set in the wilderness of the outback during the 1880s. For his masterful writing as well as the film’s score, Cave picked up many accolades and coveted nominations. Rated highly by critics as well as audiences, The Proposition is definitely one of the best Australian films from that decade.

As is evident from the script of The Proposition, Cave is fascinated by the mystical topography of the Australian outback and that is reflected in his taste in films as well. One of Cave’s favourite films of all time is Ted Kotcheff’s 1971 psychological thriller Wake in Fright which he referred to as “the best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence”.

Wake in Fright is certainly at the apotheosis of the excellence of Australian cinema, one of the earliest examples of the burgeoning new wave of truly innovative films in the country. An adaptation of Kenneth Cook’s novel, Wake in Fright follows the life of a schoolteacher who starts asking existential and moral questions after finding himself in a menacing town situated in the outback.

“I wanted to recreate what I felt and saw – the heat, the sweat, the dust, the flies,” Kotcheff said while talking about his intentions. He wanted people to be “unconsciously sweating” during their viewing of Wake in Fright and that’s what most audiences do when they see this masterpiece. The master negative of this cult classic was presumed to be lost but thankfully, it was restored in 2004.

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