Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Skin Too Few

Flew back from France yesterday lunchtime, and in the evening went to a screening of A Skin Too Few at The Cut community arts centre in Halesworth, Suffolk. On An Overgrown Path has already visited the music of Nick Drake (left) several times, and Dutch director Jereon Berkvens' 48 minute film made in 2000 is a reflection on Drake's life and music (photo of Nick to right).

This was not an easy film to make. There is no archive footage of Drake, who died in 1974 at only twenty-six, other than childhood home movies. And there are no radio interviews or other audio recordings, just the three sublime albums, plus four songs from a final recording session. Cameraman Vladas Naudzius shot the film on 35mm film stock rather than video, and this gives a haunting and elegiac feeling exactly in tune with the music. The film was made by the Dutch Humanist Broadcasting Foundation & LuijtenMacrander Productions, and was supported by the Dutch Cultural Broadcasting and Thuiskopiefund who earn our thanks for making this project possible. Nick Drake is at last being recognised as an important voice, with many leading musicians paying homage to him, including Brad Meldhau whose new CD released this month, Day is Done, takes its title from a Drake song. Despite increasing interest A Skin Too Few has not been released on DVD, so a cinema or broadcast viewing is the only way you will see it.

Director Jereon Berkvens says: "A Skin Too Few is my attempt as a filmmaker to approach the silent landscapes, locations and people in the life of this unorthodox loner in the hope of understanding his state of mind." The film succeeds brilliantly. It is lovingly made with evocative footage of Cambridge and Drake's parents' home in Tanworth-in-Arden, and it brings us closer to understanding this genuine creative artist. The inspiration for Nick Drake's lyrics included Chaucer, Blake, Flaubert and Shakespeare, and he read English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He was also influenced by a wide range of music. His friend Robert Kirby, who arranged the songs for the first album Five Leaves Left, was reading music at Caius College, Cambridge, and his enthusiasms included Baroque and early music. .

When Nick's mother found her son dead in his bedroom from a drug overdose an LP of the Brandenburg Concertos was on the record player turntable. In A Skin Too Few there is an unforgetable scene shot in the bedroom in Tanworth-in-Arden. (See production shot above). Jereon Berkvens includes a few well chosen props. Movingly one of these is the correct period LP sleeve of Thurston Dart's performance of the Brandenburgs on L'Oiseau-Lyre.

More on Nick here.
Photo credits: Nick Drake - Riverfronttimes.com, production shot - Humanist Broadcasting Foundation & LuijtenMacrander Productions Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

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