‘When I was 16, my father said, ‘You can do anything you want with your life. You just have to be willing to work hard to get it.’ That’s when I decided when I die, I want to be remembered for the life I lived, not the money I made.’
This is the prologue of one of his best-known and inspirational songs. And an appeal to his own self, which he is fulfilling and will continue to do so. In spite of his stage name and world-known as Avicii, I will call him Tim.
A film that, despite its premiere in 2017, became available on Netflix only in December 2018, and its circulation in only ‘selected cinemas’ did not attract much attention. Perhaps because it was not another corny love story or such about a superhero, with a clearly predictable happy ending.
Levan Tsikurishvili’s documentary is nothing like the mainstream productions we are used to watching and is much more than a biographical film about not just a music artist, but a true genius in the world of music – Tim Bergling.
It was not until the Swedish artist died of an apparent suicide in April 2018 when the film devoted to him began to attract more attention from the media and audience, and in December the same year, it even returned to the cinemas in New York and Los Angeles. But this time with a slightly different message and purpose: to honour the memory of the EDM legend, showcase the challenges and shortcomings of the glamorous life, as well as to remind that depression is not interested in glory or wealth, family or social status.
In ‘Avicii: True Stories’ Tim reveals to the audience a part of him which was invisible to his fans and difficult for him to accept and believe in, especially given the positive energy which he always seemed to give off, his cheerful and dynamic music, and the endless love he keeps receiving. The authentic and sincere way in which the artist’s story is told allows the viewer to get closer not only to Avicii but Tim himself. The scenes you will see in the film are filled with so many diverse and powerful emotions which would even affect those who are not fans of the DJ or this type of music.
The film follows the countless ruthless, physical and, most of all, emotional battles Tim was facing on a daily basis. And neither fame nor money or his huge house by the ocean was enough to cure the depression he had experienced for years. Still, the members of his management team continued to encourage and urge him to keep on with his career, although he admitted in time that: ‘I will not be able to play anymore. I’ve said, like, I’m going to die. I have said it so many times. And so I do not want to hear that I should entertain the thought of doing another gig.’ Yet, why did no one listen to his words? Why are people so monstrously cruel to the feelings of another human being, and why are fame and money chosen over the health and life of one innocent young artist?!
How ironic it is that one of the most influential, glorious and successful music artists of our time behind the scenes is everything the audience does not even suspect. The shock of glory, the rhythmic lifestyle, and fans’ big expectations made him a victim of alcohol and drugs, and his life solidly rested on antidepressants. Perhaps, this does not surprise anyone, but then what exactly does Tim’s personal story teach us, and why is it more relevant than ever?
Unfortunately, Tim is not the first victim of fame – mankind has witnessed many other legends who have chosen death despite the fancy and seemingly flawless life they had led and many dream of. Among them are celebrities such as Robin Williams, Alexander McQueen, Ernest Hemingway, Heath Ledger – versatile figures who suffered severe depression and had vices which combined with tremendous stress, unlock the worst doors to human consciousness, many psychologists say. Because of this, ‘invisible’ conditions such as depression should not be diminished, especially today when it is one of the most widespread diseases in the world. So, one of the things the film reminds us to do is to pay attention not only to our own but to the moods of our relatives, what they say or do not say. Do not underestimate your own or someone else’s emotional state, and if one day you find yourself in a situation like Tim’s, do not be dependent on others’ expectations and desires by neglecting your health. Or, do not let that happen to someone you know.
Besides, it is no coincidence that so many eternal, world-renowned legends took their own lives as a result of fame. So, if in 2019 somebody still has not realised – the life of the celebrities is not the way we see it on Instagram. Documentary films like the one about Tim prove that a 7-digit-long balance on one’s bank account, a huge house by the ocean, and even worldwide recognition, mean nothing.
As a true supporter of Tim from the very beginning of his career as a musician, I would say that the documentary about him deserves to be seen not only by his fans but by the mass audience, which needs to be more informed than ever about mental health problems such as depression.
The trailer of the film can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZFK3VKzQIs
Rest in Peace, Tim.