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Scottish singer's long road to recovery is turned into film

THE four-word expression "the possibilities are endless" was one of the few phrases that Scottish music legend Edwyn Collins was able to say about a life-threatening stroke that almost killed him in 2005.

Edwyn Collins, main image, last year as he prepared to embark on a tour; below, in the new film about his recovery; and right, back in the heady days of his band Orange Juice
Edwyn Collins, main image, last year as he prepared to embark on a tour; below, in the new film about his recovery; and right, back in the heady days of his band Orange Juice

Now those four words have become the title of a new film which tells the story of the former Orange Juice frontman's journey to recovery in his own words.

The film partly focuses on 54-year-old Collins's love of Helmsdale in the Highlands. His wife Grace Maxwell - described as the woman who "pulled him back to life" - told him stories of his childhood days there to help bring him out of a coma when he suffered two massive brain haemorrhages within a week.

Six months later, Collins, best known for his hit Rip It Up, was still only able to say four phrases - yes, no, his wife's name and "the possibilities are endless" - and he had to re-learn how to think, speak and walk.

The film is narrated by Collins and Maxwell. Their son, William, who is also a musician, plays his father in the early part of his career.

It is being directed by British duo Edward Lovelace and James Hall, who last collaborated on Part of Me, a behind-the-scenes documentary on pop star Katy Perry which took around £20 million at the box office.

The pair said they were inspired to undertake the project three years ago after listening to Losing Sleep, the album released by Collins in 2010, which was the first new material following his stroke.

Lovelace said: "It seemed like it was coming from a different place - we were intrigued to see what had happened and how he might have changed.

"When we first went into the studio, because of Edwyn's speech (difficulties) everyone was finishing his sentences and obviously trying to help him articulate himself.

"We wanted the film to be Edwyn's chance to speak totally freely at his own pace."

Lovelace said there were three "chapters" in the film: the first focusing on Helmsdale; the second visiting Collins's early career using flashback scenes featuring his son; and the third looking at Collins and Maxwell's story in the present day.

"Everyone is encouraged when they have got a loved one in a coma to tell stories or play music or maybe sing to them in certain way that might bring them back," he said.

"Grace told us about Helmsdale, which is a place where Edwyn spent time as a kid and was really important to him, he had a house up there that his family owned.

"When he was in a coma, she started whispering tales of Helmsdale into his ear.

"We also shot documentary scenes with Edwyn's son William as we realised his journey is similar to Edwyn's early career, which he was trying to remember when we were asking him about it.

"It seemed fitting to place William as a kind of metaphor for Edwyn's early career."

Hall said an important aspect of the film is that it is from Collins's perspective.

He said: "Especially in the first chapter (of the film), it is almost like it is within Edwyn's head as he is starting to piece back together who he is.

"When the memories start coming in you are still very much seeing it as if it's Edwyn's mind's eye.

"One striking aspect is that there was no eureka moment for his recovery.

"There is just so much work involved and it doesn't just all come flooding back - every day is a battle and you have got to get through it."

The world premiere of The Possibilities Are Endless, produced by Pulse Films, will take place next month at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, Texas, with Collins and his wife in attendance.

The directors said it was not aimed specifically at fans of Collins's music and they hoped his "comeback story" will strike a chord with a wider audience.

Hall said: "So much of Edwyn's journey is about the recovery of language - being a lyricist you can imagine it was one of the hardest things to lose.

"Through his language returning it obviously gave him the opportunity to express himself through lyrics, so in that sense music is essential.

"But in terms of the bigger picture, it definitely feels not just a music film - it is a triumph against the odds."

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