Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the documentary by director Brett Morgen, is an intimate look into the life of Nirvana’s front man using home movies, journal entries, drawings, notebook sketches, and audio recordings. Courtney Love, Cobain’s widow, gave Morgen full access to Cobain’s personal effects after approaching him several years ago to make the film.
After eight years in the making, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on Jan. 24. The documentary’s title hails from a mixtape Cobain made in the late 80’s. Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean, tweeted about arriving at Sundance.
The film is a close exploration of Cobain’s life from his creative beginnings to his eventual downward spiral; however, Cobain’s passing isn’t covered in the film. Morgen explained the decision.
“I didn’t want to make a celebration of death… I wanted to make a celebration of life.”
Much of the material included has never been seen or heard before, including original and unheard music by Kurt himself. A press release for the movie gave the following statement.
“This first ever, fully-authorised [sic] doc feature blends Cobain’s personal archive of art, music, written word, and never-before-seen home movies, with animation and revelatory interviews from his family and closest confidantes.”
One of the central figures in Kurt Cobain’s life is noticeably absent from the film. Dave Grohl, Nirvana’s drummer, who now is the front man for his own band, Foo Fighters, wasn’t interviewed soon enough to make it into the final cut. The interview could be added later before the debut on HBO May 4, according to Morgen.
“We had a locked print and trying to re-edit a film with a new interview in 10 days is kind of difficult. This is the picture I wanted — I didn’t want there to be a lot of people in the film. I hope we’ll see a version [with the Grohl interview] some time.”
Kurt’s mom, his sister Kim, Krist Novoselic (Nirvana’s bassist), Courtney Love, and Frances Bean were in the audience. Cobain and Love’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, is an executive producer and was fully involved in the project.
“She [Frances Bean] is the glue — the movie’s for her,” said Morgen.
“Frances and I share the exact same vision of what this should be. People associated with Nirvana, Dave and Krist, wanted to do this for Frances.”
In an article for Rolling Stone, David Fear writes what his experience of Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck was like.
“Morgen’s experimental, road-less-traveled approach does something that’s much deeper: letting you feel as if you’ve pored through someone’s scrapbook. You get the sense that Kurt would have liked this.”
In addition to the documentary, a companion book will be published by Insight Editions and is set to release on April 7. The book will include transcripts of interviews from the film along with “a mixture of animation stills, rare photography and other treasures from Kurt Cobain’s personal archive,” according to Rolling Stone.
Will you watch Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck on HBO?
[Image courtesy of Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic]