You Can Fall In Love With Anyone In 4 Minutes
originally published in Berlin Artparasites

“Fall in love with me in 4 minutes” theory explained in PJ Harvey and Nick Cave’s video “Henry Lee”


It was 1995 when singer songwriters Nick Cave and PJ Harvey met to film the video for best selling single Henry Lee. Their encounter was brief and they mutually admitted to love at first sight while shooting.

20 years later, journalist Mandy Len Catron made it viral in The New York Times with her Fall in love with me in 4 minutes experiment based on this study. The experiment claims that 2 strangers who will ask each other a compelling series of 36 questions, ranging from family backgrounds, sexual preferences, childhood traumas or favourite TV shows – to name a few, and then stare into each other’s eyes for exactly 4 minutes, can fall in love instantly.

Harvey and Cave may have had the love at first sight – which, Catron says – is a thing of choice, not fate – or may have experienced the consequences of a strange psychological resort. Either way, this is still one of the most eerie and romantic encounters in the 1990’s art scene and frankly, who wouldn’t fall in awe when one painstakingly repeats “You won’t find a girl in this damn world / That will compare with me”.

The fascination between Cave and Harvey while filming is hard to explain. Knowing that they barely knew each other when they met makes the whole viewing experience surreal, dramatic and spellbound. Henry Lee was made in one take. There was no script, no choreography. Thus, they clicked beyond reason in those 4 minutes. This magnetic attraction set them inside a whimsical bubble outside space and time, where holding each other’s gaze was preliminary for a feisty, overflowing connection. Its intensity was brutal, yet its core gentle, and all those stripped feelings form a raw, unguarded heart ease in spite of the fact it’s a song about murder and betrayal.

“So you were starting the relationship in this four-minute video?” The Guardian asked Cave.

Yeah, exactly” he replied.

People who fall in love – aware or not of this exercise – Catron states, will do it out of choice and will separate out of reason – if they do. Cave and Harvey spent less than one year together – a consuming  affair that led to its own demise. While Cave frantically wrote doomed love ballads about brunettes with dark green eyes and West County temptresses, Harvey sank like a fish inside a tank to produce Is this desire, an end note about mismatched affairs and ghostly romances. Their 4 minutes of on screen fame, however, took a dramatic turn for their music. While Harvey produced her most acclaimed album, Cave’s Into My Arms was called the greatest love song ever written.