Soundtrack Contribution/Collaboration: Nick Cave (with Mick Harvey and Blixa Bargeld)
Ghosts... of the Civil Dead (1988)
Ghosts... of the Civil Dead was the first feature film by writer/director John Hillcoat and writer/producer Evan English. The film is not currently available, although a DVD release is planned. The soundtrack was released by Mute Records. The following synopsis of the film was written by Evan English:
Central Industrial Prison is set in the middle of the desert. It's the future of maximum-security containment and it's been "locked down" after an explosion of violence. A committee's been appointed to report on the events that led to the violence but their findings are in stark contrast to the reality we see with our own eyes.. "Ghosts.. of the Civil Dead" is a powerful drama on modern methods of social control.
Ghosts... Of The Civil Dead is set entirely within the confines of a modern Maximum Security prison - a "New Generation" prison painted in playschool yellows, bathroom violets and resembling your modern shopping mall. Central Industrial Prison is located in the middle of the desert. It has been "locked down" - the confinement of all inmates to their cells, 23 hours a day, indefintely - following an outbreak of violence and a committee has been appointed to report.
The film flashes back to trace the events that led to the lockdown, allowing us to discover the startling facts - that the unseen, but omnipotent administration have deliberately provoked the inmates and officers alike in order to create the violence.
Ultimately, Ghosts... Of The Civil Dead is about modern methods of social control: colour, architecture and environment, human group dynamics, drugs, television, brute force, breeding of criminals, notions of random violence, fear, divide and rule, police, media. It is about the organisation of our society.
Ghosts... Of The Civil Dead is a very powerful, sometimes harrowing and most often an intensely provocative cinematic experience that stunned the world's film community upon its release (theatrical distribution included UK, France, Germany, Austria, Finland, Italy, Japan, Australia, New Zealand). "Masterpiece on the order of Goya" wrote "Time Out" in the UK.
The film is about the fact that prison further criminalises its inhabitants. It is about the way in which the system, upon which our society is based, has the capacity to exploit events that should be an indictment of it. Further, it is about the fact that our system deliberately creates those events in order to exploit them. The Committee appointed to report recommends that a new "super maximum" security prison immediately begin construction.
More info: www.ghostsofthecivildead.com