Brett Morgen directs the documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the first film to be made with the cooperation of his family. With access to Kurt’s personal and family archives the first time writer produces a film that is both heart-warming and wrenching.
For many Kurt Cobain is the world’s last great rock star. In life, his impact on popular music and culture is undeniable. In death, he became immortalised, deified even, held aloft higher than Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and most recently and tragically Amy Winehouse.
The film’s focus is purely on Kurt Cobain the man. Not the rock star, not the legend, not the myth. Though Nirvana plays an important part in the documentary, the film never loses sight of the singer in the mist of the hyperbole surrounding the band. Beginning with a home movie of Kurt as a baby his story is told through interviews, unreleased recordings, artwork, photography and animated journals. All of these mediums have been woven beautifully to create a film that is as artistic and honest as the songwriter himself.
The film neither avoids nor glorifies the singer’s suicide. Suicide is an irrational act, and this film doesn’t try to give Kurt’s death a rational answer. Rather it focuses on his life, detailing everything from his parents divorce, his chronic stomach pains, heroin addiction and family. For all the darkness in the film the footage of Kurt and Courtney with their daughter Frances shows that, for all the dysfunctionality drug addictions brought to their lives, their love for their baby is unquestionable.
The only thing that comes close in the documentary to offering an explanation to his suicide is the revelation that Kurt absolutely hated being humiliated. So much so when he suspected Love of cheating on him he took an overdose of pills, putting himself into a coma. But, the film is never crass enough to suggest that A + B = C.
As many fans know there was a ranging conflict within Kurt Cobain. He wanted fame, but couldn’t handle it. He wanted a family, but couldn’t have it. Only this time this internal conflict is told by those who knew him the best and loved him the most. It’s a tragic story of man who clearly had a lot of love to give but was ultimately swallowed up by his own personal demons.
With Kurt Cobain’s death we lost one of the finest singer songwriters that has ever graced this earth. This film does tells us that story, but more importantly it never loses sight that a mother lost her son, a wife lost her husband and that a baby girl lost her father.
‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’ out on Blu-ray and DVD now.
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