Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, about the late singer and guitarist of the famous band Nirvana, is showing at the Burns August 7-9. An unflinching look at Kurt Cobain, its title comes from one of Cobain’s aptly titled cassettes, experimenting with music and spoken word. The film takes a lot from Cobain’s treasure trove, including drawings, journal entries, home movies, early takes of songs, spoken word segments, and much more.
Kurt Cobain is possibly the most famous rock star in the world. Twenty years after his death, his music (especially the famous album Nevermind) still lives on, countless films have been made about him, and his persona still excites and fascinates people to no end. When people think of the word “rock star,” he is the first person to come to mind.
This means that the director, Brett Morgen, had a lot to live up to. I can definitely say that this was one of the best music documentaries I have ever seen. Through talking heads, including Kurt’s mother and father, widow Courtney Love, sister Kim Cobain, and bandmate Krist Novoselic, among others, Cobain’s journal entries and drawings, animated depictions of Cobain’s life, interviews and archival footage of Nirvana, and, of course, the music itself, the documentary speaks volumes about its subject matter. Going through Cobain’s life, from his happy childhood in Aberdeen, Washington, to his troubled teenage years, his rise to fame, and finally his last few months, I was pleasantly surprised to learn some new information about one of my favorite rock frontmen.
All in all, it is a very human look at the man behind some of rock’s most famous songs. The documentary does not shirk from some of the darker stuff, like Cobain’s weaknesses and his drug use. This makes the film all the more poignant and heartrending to watch. Seeing Cobain as a loving father to daughter Frances Bean will make anyone tear up, whether a Nirvana fan or not.
There is so much mystery surrounding Cobain’s persona and identity. The allure of him and his music will continue for some time to come.
The film, although aware of the icon status of its subject, tries to humanize him instead of making him into an even more legendary person, and in that way succeeds. Kurt Cobain, even twenty years after his death, has never shone brighter.