Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, The Man Behind the Music

I am not the biggest Nirvana fan but Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck hits all the right notes, and takes you on an emotional roller coaster. The perfect documentary must inform, entertain, enlighten and possibly move the audience. The documentary is the most authentic and intimate portrait of not only the band Nirvana, but also the frontman Kurt Cobain: it is one of the best films of the year so far. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is directed by Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in The Picture) and is produced by Kurt Cobain's Daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.

The film focuses more on Kurt’s childhood than his career, bringing together interviews with family, girlfriends and childhood friends. This is juxtaposed with super 8 footage of Kurt Cobain's childhood that has previously been unreleased. Diary entries and animated sequences bring us into his mind, reflecting his emotional state during various ventures of his life. As a rebellious teenager he would be tossed around from family to family, discarded as soon as he became unwanted. All he wanted was love, but he was unable to find it during his teenage years.

Next came the forming of the band, where we see them form, rehearse and finally start performing at small venues. Their first record, Bleach finds moderate success but Nevermind would become one of the most influential albums in rock history. Amidst all this, he would meet Courtney Love, who he would marry. In the home videos it seems Kurt and Courtney had found love, but they would be also each other’s  demise. Kurt seems to turn a new leaf on life when his daughter, Frances Bean is born as he tries to show her all the love he never felt in life.

The band also records In Utero while the relationship between Kurt and Courtney becomes increasingly tumultuous. A series of articles expose the drug-addled habits of the new parents, and also hints at possible infidelity on Love’s part. Home videos reveal Kurt at his very worst as the drugs have taken over, a disheartening video shows him losing consciousness as he cares for his daughter. The film ends with footage from Nirvana’s performance on MTV Unplugged. A title card follows stating "One month after returning from Rome, Kurt Cobain took his own life. He was 27 years old." just before the end credits roll.

This is the most authentic and intimate portrait of Kurt Cobain. The documentary moved me the most through  home videos, especially the one where we clearly see the drugs have won and taken over Kurt Cobain right before his life ends. I had to ask myself as I was exiting the theatre why I was moved by this man's life when I was not his biggest fan. Maybe it is the fact that his human spirit that can be found is his music finally touched me as I better understood what motivated him to make the kind of music he did.