Screening during this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, and airing on HBO, Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck is best described as a self portrait documentary of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Self portrait in that the film—with the exception of interviews, news footage and animation placed into the final cut—consists of seldom seen home video footage, from his early formative years up to the point where he would become an idol to Generation X’ers around the world.
Besides reflections from those who knew Kurt best, meaning the same people who have been interviewed many times over, Montage of Heck assembles Kurt’s surviving family members—his mother, father (whom has rarely spoken publicly about his son), step-mother, sister, and an ex live-in girlfriend who supported Kurt while he wrote the songs that would touch millions.
Heck begins things with Kurt’s happy childhood growing up in Abdereen, Washington until his parent’s divorce when he was seven, beginning a complicated relationship he would have with both until he discovered punk rock, which led him to co-founding Nirvana with friend Krist Novoselic while in high school (Dave Grohl would join two drummers later).
While Kurt’s talent as a songwriter are discussed and we have the pleasure of hearing many of the demos that would end up on Nevermind and In Utero, we are also taken into Kurt’s personal home life during the height of Nirvana mania. We see him in many romantic moments with Courtney Love, playing with his daughter Francis Bean, to having deep discussions with Love about the sudden fame that had befallen him and his struggle to live within the fishbowl it put him and his family in. The documentary doesn’t dwell on his drug use or suicide on April 5, 1994 but it does show the reactions of his fans after hearing the news.
It’s all engrossing material here, from hearing Kurt in his own words describe the many personal issues he was going through he recorded on audio tape from high school up to the home videos made in the privacy of his own home during what was the most important time during Nirvana’s existence, the priceless live concert performances that are rarely or have never been seen. Hearing the music at it’s most raw will definitely peak interests in what is considered one of the greatest rock bands ever, fronted by one of the most talented but often misunderstood frontman who really could never accept the sudden fame and idol status that had befallen on him. It’s definitely a documentary made for Nirvana fans and for fans of the generation of grunge music.
Author: Rob Perez
Rob Perez is a freelance writer who has been with The Music Universe early on. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, you will find him writing reviews and live tweeting awards shows.