Last year, HBO premiered the highly anticipated Kurt Cobain documentary film ‘Montage of Heck’. The film has been shown at Sundance and numerous other film festivals and selects movie theaters across America, rapidly gaining attention and notoriety. Directed by Brett Morgan who has been making the film for eight long years, the film has been sending waves through the music industry and for good reason – It is truly a masterpiece.
Anyone who has been sucked into the enigmatic black hole that is Kurt Cobain and Nirvana can understand just how important this film is. The biopic starts at the very beginning, piecing together old never-before-seen home video footage of a young Kurt alongside interviews with various members of his family, some of whom have never spoken publicly before, most notably his father and stepmother. We watch Kurt in a state of innocent, youthful bliss – running around in a Batman costume, blowing out candles on a birthday cake, and even playing with a toy guitar that he surprisingly knew to play lefty. As we follow the narrative into his teen years, we witness the angst-ridden child of divorce come alive through beautiful animations, narrated by his own words.
Back in 2002, Courtney Love released a book of Kurt Cobain’s journals that give the world a more in-depth look at the rock legend. In ‘Montage’ these journals and even some left out of the book are used to carry the story on by animating many of his drawings, notes, ideas, thoughts, and lyrics. It’s done so in such a powerful way, giving the viewer an honest and unbiased account of who Kurt was.
The film goes on to chronicle the rise and slow fall of Nirvana from their early days of playing in bedrooms to only a few people, to their overnight success due to Nevermind, all the way up to Kurt’s suicide. What sets this film apart from the other documentaries made on Cobain is the amount of support and contribution his family made. Through their words, we get an honest account of Kurt’s life, which hasn’t been seen in this much depth since Charles R. Cross’ Heavier Than Heaven biography. And the home videos, including tear-jerking footage of Kurt and daughter Frances shortly after her birth, paint a new picture of Kurt as a young man and a loving father. For both old and new Nirvana fans alike, this film is a must see.