If it is true that artists make themselves, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck offers a unique glimpse into how Kurt Cobain came to be the legend that he is and, whether he liked to admit it or not, the angsty voice of a generation.
Produced by Cobain’s Daughter
Produced by Frances Bean Cobain and directed by Brett Morgen, the documentary is a raw look into the tortured mind of one of the most influential artists of the 90s through his diaries, paintings, drawings and endless cassette recordings.
The director also interviewed members of his immediate family and his closest friends in order to uncover the mystery behind the man who was named the Creative Genius behind Nirvana and whose death was so controversial that it was the subject of an Unsolved Mysteries episode in 1997.
It is now well known that Kurt Cobain despised giving interviews and above all hated to explain the meaning of his songs, which has contributed to the myths around the legend that he has become.
The documentary, by going to the core of Cobain’s creative process, does tarnish the genius label that he was given, but only to show viewers that Cobain truly worked at songwriting and insisted for his band mates to rehearse together as often as possible in order to become better musicians.
He may not have been a genius, but he worked incredibly hard at his art and infused everything that he approached, whether drawing, writing in his diary or performing on stage, with his incredible talent and unique creative vision.
Home Video Footage
Home videos are also included into the collage that is this documentary and they allow the viewers to witness just how much Cobain was enamored with his wife, the infamous Courtney Love, and how their relationship was controversial for fans and the media.
In a touching scene, Love reads out loud a bunch of readers’ letters published in Sassy magazine a few months after she and Cobain appeared on the cover. Her tone is sarcastic, but her insistence on reading the whole page hints that she is hurt by the comments.
A few months later, the Vanity Fair coverage of Cobain and Love’s marriage and drug use during Love’s pregnancy also led both of them to isolate themselves even more from the world. However, home videos shot in the privacy of their home allow us to witness their newlywed happiness and the joy that their newborn daughter Frances Bean Cobain brought into their lives.
One could think that a mosaic of journal entries, drawings, recordings, and home videos could turn into an undecipherable mess, but Morgen knows how to present everything in a chronological order that enlightens more than it confuses. If you are a fan of Nirvana’s music, this 145-minute long documentary is not only a true feast for the eyes and the ears, it is also a revelation of the true nature of Cobain’s enigmatic persona.
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is well worth the watch.