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‘Montage of Heck’: the definitive Cobain documentary

The long-awaited Kurt Cobain documentary is out and stirring up Nirvana patriotism in fans young and old.

The film was originally shown at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2015, but was released in select theaters in the USA on April 24, 2015. The documentary premiered on HBO on May 4, 2015 and has received its well-deserved positive reviews.

From angsty diary excerpts to intimate home videos, “Montage of Heck” shows the real essence of Cobain and destroys the “saint-like” helpless rock star image held under his wife’s captive mythology that surrounds him to this day.

Cobain is often seen as a pure, tortured rock star driven to a tragic death from the pressures of fame and his failing marriage with his “horrid wife,” Courtney Love. The theories of Love being responsible for his death are still raging on to this day.

However, this movie destroyed those ideas completely, and shows how he had suffered depression since his early teens. Ultimately, it was his feelings of rejection and being inadequate that put the bullet through his head on April 5, 1994.

I have watched other Cobain/Nirvana documentaries, but nothing will ever add up to this two-and-a-half hour masterpiece. There is no sugar-coating or rock god portrayal — just pure Cobain and how he was as an individual.

Unlike other documentaries, director Brett Morgen was able to assemble several unheard recordings, unseen art, home videos, interviews from relatives, and pieces of Cobain’s journals to formulate a picture of Cobain that was real and not his pissy rock star persona. Morgen shows you Cobain’s mindset and beliefs from childhood until his death.

Additionally, Frances Bean Cobain, Cobain’s daughter, is an executive producer of the film, which is the first Nirvana-related project she has contributed to.

“The fact that Frances is an executive producer and that there’s home videos and parts of his journals is really great. I think it makes the film more intimate and gives it a more personal edge to the film instead of a narrator spitting out facts about Cobain’s life,” says freshman David Phenes.

The film begins with Kim Cobain, Kurt’s sister, describing Cobain as a “genius who is constantly thinking”, and continues with several cute baby videos along with snippets of Wendy Cobain, Kurt’s mother, speaking about Cobain as a child.

What I found most interesting were the recordings of Cobain’s voice and the animations Morgen integrated as if Cobain himself were telling the story of his unruly teenage years. Furthermore, the documentary brought in members of Cobain’s family that no one had ever heard from, including his father Don Cobain and stepmother Jenny Cobain.

Another thing that was commendable about the movie was that Morgen highlighted Cobain and not his suicide. Cobain is most infamous for his heroin use and tragic death, but instead of glorifying his drug use, Morgen shows the ugly reality of how painful and stressful it was to cope with fame, drugs, and being the voice of a generation.

“I love Nirvana and Kurt Cobain and I am so glad that there is a documentary that focuses on him and not his angry, grunge persona or his suicide. People are multi-faceted and the director really showed how he was and his life in a really neat way” says freshman Nicole Lawniczuk.

There’s not much criticism to give other than Dave Grohl, drummer of Nirvana, not giving his input on Cobain in the movie.

Overall, I would give “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” a 9/10 rating. The film shows Cobain in an intriguing manner and gives a deeper look at one of the most glorified rock stars of all time. It was a fantastic documentary from start to finish – from the animation effects to the music and everything in between, this documentary is a must-see for Nirvana/Cobain fans.

Will you be watching Montage of Heck?

  1. Yes; I love Kurt Cobain/Nirvana

  2. Maybe; it looks interesting

  3. No; I don't like cool movies

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