In this visual essay style documentary, intimate audio of journalist Michael Azerrad's interviews with Kurt Cobain is played over more recently photographed footage of Cobain's Washington state homes and haunts.
"Nirvana headlining at Reading in 1992 was something you had to see, and if you didn't see it then it was something you pretended you saw." --Kerrang (October 2003) "The staggering energy ... See full summary »
Some say that you're not a true rock and roll legend until you've had an extensive authorized documentary made about your legacy. Just kidding, nobody says that. Kurt Cobain was a legend as soon as Nevermind hit record stores, and his legacy continues today, immortalized by Nirvana and the massive impact his genius had on punk rock. But not only was he one of the best rockers who ever lived, Kurt Cobain was one of the most extraordinary and misunderstood minds of his generation, whose own brilliance caused his self destruction. He's a complex and intricate spider web of a person, and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck goes on the deepest and most intimate exploration of this enigmatic genius that has ever been done.
Montage of Heck chronicles Cobain's entire life, beginning with his parents meeting and Kurt's childhood, all the way up to his suicide in 1994 which is nothing more than a title card at an abrupt end of the film. Don't think that this is a Nirvana documentary, or a Courtney Love documentary, or any other kind of documentary other than a Kurt Cobain documentary. Montage of Heck examining his relationship with his family, his lovers, his band, and Nirvana's massive following which played on Kurt as a blessing and a maddening curse.
Montage of Heck is directed by Brett Morgen, the director of my personal favorite ESPN 30 for 30 episode, June 17th, 1994, a sports documentary that only uses news footage from one particular day in sports to tell its story. Morgen employs similar techniques here. The amount of home video footage that exists of Cobain from his adolescence all the way through his relationship with Courtney Love (which includes some pretty disturbing drug induced home video), is astounding. Montage of Heck is brilliantly pieced together through this home video footage, interviews with people close to Kurt, audio recordings of Kurt and friends, and Kurt's own journal writings and drawings, gloriously animated in what makes for the most fascinating look into the mind of this troubled genius.
Some of the best parts of the film take us through his journals where his mad scientist scribbles and macabre H.R. Giger-esque drawings show us his reactions and feelings towards the band, their rising popularity, Courtney Love, etc. all to paint a fascinatingly intricate portrait of this man. To call Montage of Heck an examination of Kurt Cobain would be doing a disservice to this great doc. Montage of Heck is less of an examination and more of a journey, a violent yet graceful boat ride into the seas of one of rock and roll's most dynamic minds. It's a film that is as beautiful as it is brutal, and as sentimental as it is visceral.
This is the most honest and in depth insight into a man who seemed to have everything, yet battled demons all his life to find what really could make him happy. Sadly, those demons won, but not before Kurt Cobain could be immortalized as a rock and roll icon. And now we're lucky enough to have this film which celebrates all that he left behind. A film that shows us not only who Kurt Cobain was on stage, but who he was as a passionately flawed human being who wanted nothing more than to love, be loved, and rock the f out.
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