Kurt Cobain- Montage Of Heck
Running Time 2hr 12mins
On DVD April 27 2015
Come As You Are
Kurt Cobain, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of Grunge legends Nirvana remains a musical icon years after his death. Now 21 years on, Montage Of Heck is a movie that takes you on a deeply personal, highly insightful chronicle into the late musician’s life.
Montage Of Heck was Written & Directed by Brett Morgen, his recent body of work exposes unseen archived home movies, artwork & photography of the Grunge star. Morgen also includes Kurt’s personal notebook journals and recordings of a cassette titled ‘Montage Of Heck’ the Director discovered during his research into the film.
Here, most of Kurt’s immediate family are interviewed in this biopic. The film contains interviews from former Bandmate Kris Novoselic, Cobain’s Mother, Father, Ex-Girlfriend & his Wife Courtney. & While his Daughter, Frances Bean, who features in the film as a baby, now a beautiful 22-year-old, stayed behind the camera and is credited as an Executive Producer.
Montage Of Heck is kept intimate with few people in Kurt’s life. It’s a closely knit, narrowed down affair where only members of the family and band appear, just one in fact, Krist Novoselic. So alas, and for whatever reason, Dave Grohl is absent.
That aside, If one wants to probe into his life & see him in his early years, then this is jam packed with explicit offerings, making Cobain’s notebook drawings and paintings come to life. It’s all done with cleverly animated sequences that blend commentary lifted from Kurt’s recorded messages.
The Nirvana star was 9 years old at the time of his parents divorce, and according to the film interviews, triggered the already hyperactive and ultra sensitive child to become unruly. Kurt, raging at rejectment, lived between two families & Grandparents where he took his pain and seeming abandonment out on his step-siblings due to his Fathers next marriage.
Moving on to discovering marijuana to escape his troubles, & even then considering suicide in his youth, the film draws you into a sense of melancholy and sets alarm bells ringing to which we can already back track from the final chapter.
Parts of the film mix up insightful brilliance with tragedy, especially when narrated notes from Cobain’s tape recordings expose how he tried to have sex with a ‘Retarded’ girl and then attempted suicide on railroad tracks, after which, fortunately for him that very time, lay down on the wrong set and lived to recount the tale onto a recordable cassette.
As this animated sequence in documentary plays out -it’s almost like looking at a lost or banned chapter of Holden Caulfield in J.D Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye. Except this time for the fascinated consumer, it’s unnervingly real.
M.O.H documents that Buzz Osbourne of The Melvins, musician & friend also from Washington, nearby to the logging town of Kurt’s native Aberdeen, made him a compilation tape. The ‘flash of inspiration’ moment occurred to Cobain he could now express himself through making music. From then on he set his goals to write & play the best while leaving openly clear messages in his lyrics to the state of his troubled mind.
Cobain moved out from his families household’s and shared a flat with his then-girlfriend Tracy Marander, who financially supported Cobain during his formative years leaving the house going out to work. She would come home to find Kurt had whiled away his time recording, playing guitar, writing, painting pictures, and very little else.
Suggesting he find work, he eventually did as a handyman/ janitor, before signing to Nirvana’s first record label Sub Pop Records. At this point early on the sensitive singer already felt the harsh criticism of media reviews and was very careful how he presented himself, says Bass player Kris Novoselic.
We learn in M.O.H that Cobain, a sufferer of stomach pains first started using heroin whilst living with his girlfriend unbeknownst to her. This self-medication was to continue right through the years leading up to his eventual suicide in April 1994, where Cobain’s body was discovered by an electrician at his home in Lake Washington Boulevard.
Well, Whatever Nevermind…
Nirvana’s Nevermind album was the first major record release having signed with the David Geffen Company & it shot to the Top of the Billboard chart. It became a massive unexpected success.
When his mother first saw the record Cobain had made she was shocked, not because of it, but for the effect it would have on him. she said, “You better buckle up ’cause you’re not ready for this.”
Being famous all of a sudden- coming from obscurity to being the world’s number one band may have been a case of too much too soon. After his success, he became reclusive and wanted to stay in his apartment and shoot heroin who Courtney Love claims, was his aim, she says in M.O.H ‘to get to $3 million and then be a junkie.’
About A Girl
Montage Of Heck provides the viewer with a glimpse into Kurt & Courtney Love’s relationship with home movie footage being shot at close quarters. Sometimes it’s anyone’s guess why Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson had filmed much of the footage of Cobain and Love at home. Erlandson had previously dated Love & it gets weirder that he’s actually filming while she’s flashing her knickers piggy backing Cobain or asking the question, Do you like my large breasts? in the bathroom. It’s all child’s play and makes you feel as though you’ve just rummaged around in someone’s personal possessions and seen something you shouldn’t have. Good or bad?
It’s not hard to think of Kurt & Courtney as being compared to Ono and Lennon as famous couples go out on public display here, or the pairing of strung out Sid & Nancy is perhaps more closer to home, as their private lives are opened up to even more public scrutiny than the afore mentioned ever were.
Both in a junkie lifestyle, Courtney was accused using heroin all the way through pregnancy. But for Cobain, the arrival of his daughter brought in a new responsibility- you can see how much he loves his daughter, Frances Bean. He’s seen as a doting father, holding her, he says she is the best drug in the world.
Montage Of Heck opens up the home life of parenting with Kurt/Courtney’s young baby Frances Bean. There’s candid film of her birthday with family & Nirvana band members present. We see the newfangled fatherhood & how took affected the fragile frontman who took his own life 22 years ago. He reportedly didn’t ever want his new daughter to go through the same experiences as he. He is quoted in one interview as saying.
“If anything is going to stop me from pursuing this rock ‘n’ roll thing, it’s going to be her because I don’t want her to be screwed up because of it,”
I Hate Myself & Want To Die.
His Mother speaking in the Biopic says of her son that he, ‘Got worse & worse, losing weight, getting sores and nodding out’. It’s an easy case to investigate when you can clearly see how much the lyrics reflected the state of his mind.
The song- I Hate Myself & Want To Die is an obvious testament to Cobain’s darkness jotted down & made into musical form. Much like fellow Grunge pioneer & Alice in Chains Vocalist Layne Staley, who’s similar lyrical content often dealt with his own personal troubles, such as drug use and depression & died ten years following. Interesting or perhaps bizarre, he also died on April 5th.
Kurt was ultra sensitive says Courtney & she claims he somehow knew she was thinking about cheating on him. He couldn’t cope with the betrayal and rejection.
The song “where did you sleep last night” filmed and recorded for Nirvana’s TV appearance for the unplugged session plays out near the end, and again this could be a clue to Kurt’s broken mind.
It’s lyrics asking the question “My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me Tell me where did you sleep last night” -“I’m going where the cold wind blows”, before the verse recites the death of her husband. Originally an old folk song from the 1870’s and recorded by Lead Belly it perfectly suits Nirvana’s repertoire before the curtain call.
Then the film closes with Cobain hospitalized and comatose in Rome after he overdosed on Rohypnol. Just after returning from Rome barely a month passed before Cobain bowed out to the world leaving a suicide note in a flower pot nearby his body, Joining the notorious 27 Club…
Stirring & thought provoking stuff.