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January 24th, 2008

Heath Ledger: The Black Eyed Dog Called For More

dark_knight_set.jpg

Alright. I realize that this isn’t TMZ. I also realize that coverage of the Heath Ledger tragedy is ubiquitous and gratuitous. Bear with me.

When I stepped into LA’s Egyptian Theatre on one night this past October, I felt like I was amongst family. I had the pleasure of attending a special one-night engagement of a Nick Drake film festival of sorts, aptly titled A Place To Be. The word ‘special’ is thrown around far too liberally in our society of consumption, but this event truly was special – or at least unique. For, you see, Nick Drake’s close friend and producer Joe Boyd (the man that first had faith in Nick’s potential), his sister Gabrielle, and another close friend Robyn Frederick (Nick covered her song ‘Been Smokin’ Too Long’) were in attendance. After the screening of the feature-length documentary A Skin Too Few, the three Drake compatriots offered a brief but informative Q&A with the audience – topics ranged from the woefully superficial (“how many girlfriends did Nick have?”) to the insightfully investigative (“what time signature did Nick use in River Man?”). After they finished answering questions, the programme moved onto a series of short, Drake-inspired “music videos.” These were original video pieces created by a roster of Nick’s more notable acolytes. One of the videos – a stark, moody, black-and-white study of a man’s depression and eventual suicide – was set to Nick’s delicately macabre final recording, Black Eyed Dog. This was Heath Ledger’s contribution.

When I saw the clip, despite its aesthetic beauty, I wasn’t moved. The narrative seemed too convenient. The subject matter…cliche. Clearly, the situation has changed. Heath Ledger is dead. The cause: an apparent overdose of sleeping pills, almost exactly mirroring the circumstances of Nick’s demise. The correlations between the two men are impossible to ignore. Pondering my opinion of the video now, sentamentalism seems a convenient crutch to lean on. Was I missing the point on my first viewing? Was it, in fact, genius?

No. But that’s not the point.

Heath Ledger was a troubled man who found a heroes in role-martyrs. The video was an honest expression of his state of mind and Nick’s song was the soundtrack to his suffering. There’s nothing more I could ask for.

[Link] A Place to Be Video [download] Nick Drake – Black Eyed Dog


[photo © Splash News]

=tyler=

21 Comments »

  1. i wonder if that video is somewhere available online…

    Comment by b gutierrez — January 25, 2008 @ 2:03 am
  2. its not available anywhere yet. I believe it’s only been screened twice – once in LA (where I caught it) and once in Seattle. The Drake estate owns it and hasn’t decided whether they’re going to release it yet, but I’m gue$$ing they will.
    -tyler

    Comment by woeful.pie — January 25, 2008 @ 2:08 am
  3. there has to be somewhere online for the video…if it was screened twice, couldn’t it have been ripped for download? Any tags to look for??

    Comment by wow — January 28, 2008 @ 6:42 am
  4. unfortunately, not every film screening has a bootlegger sitting in the back row with a handicam. i wouldn’t be too discouraged, though; it’ll turn up eventually. i believe it’s actually on dvd in the newly released fruit tree boxed set, although i could be wrong.

    Comment by woeful.pie — January 28, 2008 @ 6:37 pm
  5. wait, really? How do we find out for sure? there were a few british papers that had stills from the last scene-gross-i wonder how they got those???

    Comment by wow — February 4, 2008 @ 7:08 am
  6. if you check out the link i put in the post, you’ll see a few seconds of the film.

    Comment by woeful.pie — February 4, 2008 @ 4:39 pm
  7. It’s not in the newly released box set of Fruit Tree.Hopefully they will add it to the expanded release of A Skin Too Few due out sometime this year.

    Comment by Kurt — February 9, 2008 @ 9:01 am
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