Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is a harrowing and truthful depiction of a true music genius, featuring interviews with Krist Novoselic, Courtney Love, Cobain’s parents and previously unseen footage of the man himself, Kurt Cobain.
This authorized documentary of the gone-too-soon Nirvana frontman will air on HBO on Monday, May 4th but got a limited release this past weekend. If it is playing in your area then I highly recommend going to watch. If not, then make sure to tune in May 4th as this documentary from Brett Morgen is one of the most powerful and respectful documentaries you will find, and likely the best made about the ill-fated Cobain.
Following Cobain from his parents first meeting in the ’60s all the way to his final performance in Rome in ’94, one thing to praise about this movie (one of many) is that it does not shy away from showing the poisoned and troubled undercurrent of Cobain’s personal life. Too often documentaries and biopics about revered icons will show their subjects in a more positive light even if in actuality their was a much darker side to them. For example, two biopics released relatively close to each other about Alfred Hitchcock – Hitchcock and The Girl – showed the man directing two of his more iconic movies Psycho and The Birds. Whilst Hitchcock was a borderline comedy, showing Hitchcock as a likeable and beloved man, The Girl portrayed him as a cruel and often horrifying man, which on all accounts he was. Montage of Heck is much closer to The Girl.
Montage of Heck does not show Cobain as being an awful person because frankly, he wasn’t one. However not every point it touches on is a positive one and through this you get a much clearer image of Kurt Cobain, warts and all. You see him as a loving father to his child before his death, and through home videos and personal footage we see how he was a joking and kind man. But we also see his mother, father and stepmother discuss how difficult a child he could be, with no relatives agreeing to house him for more than a couple of weeks. We see Cobain, as a teenager, associate with a group who took advantage of an overweight, mentally disabled girl. [I MUST NOTE HERE, COBAIN WAS NOT AS CRUEL TO THE GIRL AS THEM, REFUSING TO CALL HER A RETARD ALTHOUGH THEY DID]
The movie is infused with seemingly unconnected imagery and footage such as a dog running, rebellious teenagers and an instructional video about the dangers of radioactivity, all with backing music by Nirvana. A true Montage of Heck. Some of the most memorable moments of the doc are animated segments by Hisko Hulsing, depicting moments from Cobain’s life, often with actual audio of Kurt Cobain. These animated segments bring to life moments of the man’s life that couldn’t have been captured on video. A failed suicide attempt as a teenager, a distressed call made to a journalist, the recording of Cobain’s Montage of Heck musical collage he made using a 4-track tape recorder.
If you are a fan of Nirvana or more specifically Cobain, you can’t miss this harrowing documentary as it will remind you of all you knew about the man, and add multiple layers both good and bad, to a troubled legend: