Nirvana were undoubtedly a huge band by any measure. However, the untimely death of Kurt Cobain propelled them into musical folklore. The cost of Nirvana CDs suddenly spiralled and a whole new swathe of fans appearing out of nowhere. There have been several films about the mercurial lead singer, but Brett Morgen’s Cobain: Montage of Heck is the only one to have such an unprecedented level of access.
Morgen has been given incredible access to writings, art, concert and interview footage, audio and home videos, seemingly by both the Cobain family and Courtney Love. There are interviews with both, along with band member Krist Novoselic. However, David Grohl is notably absent. He also has free reign with Nirvana’s back catalogue. Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain is also onboard as executive producer. Given this is the first official documentary about the singer, there is a treasure trove of previously unseen material.
Cobain: Montage of Heck (taken from the title of some early recordings by Cobain) charts his life from childhood to his death at the age of 27. There is some beautiful animation to accompany radio interviews, and also to bring his art and writing to life. It’s incredibly well done, inventive and clever. However, it’s really would have benefited from losing about 30 minutes in the editing room. Morgen also never really pierces the surface, and his interviews never really tackle the major controversies surrounding his life and death. Having said that, this is the definitive documentary about Kurt Cobain’s life, highlighting the brilliance and determination of a very troubled person.
Cobain: Montage of Heck is out in cinemas now.