27th Apr2015

‘Cobain: Montage of Heck’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


Kurt Cobain is an enigma that we’ll probably never truly understand.  Cobain: Montage of Heck doesn’t try to dictate what we should think about the man, rather it gives a look at his life, from childhood to his infamous death.  Will it give the answers that everybody is looking for? I doubt it; but for fans of Cobain it gives a look into the iconic man’s life in a way that is not only unflinching at presenting the facts but sometimes is uncomfortably honest in its presentation of his life and events that came before his suicide.

In creating Cobain: Montage of Heck Brett Morgan looks to be giving the audience their own chance to interpret Cobain’s life, and in many ways fans will love this because it paints the portrait of a man who is relatable, but also very flawed.  Using interviews with his family, friends and of course Courtney Love we are given interpretation of events through their eyes and what they understood of the man but also evidence from his own writings and recordings.  It doesn’t force a definitive history of the man, more an intimate look at his emotional state and the events that led up to it.

What is surprising in Cobain: Montage of Heck is the way it presents Courtney Love.  Without trying to paint her in any guise, we are given the facts and she appears to be honest in her interviews.  In many ways she is blunt and brutal with some of the facts she puts forward, not only about Cobain’s life but also her actions.  These facts don’t portray her in a positive way, especially when we see the “family videos” of her and Cobain high on drugs, if anything we see the destructive nature of their relationship.  What is evident though is how much in love the two were, and how the situation they were thrust into was as destructive to their lives as their drug taking was.  There is no rose-tinted glasses here, no glamorising of drug taking, what we are left with is the uncomfortable and unsettling truth of their lives and the problems they faced because of their fame.

With many documentaries about Cobain and articles you often find that fame is blamed for Cobain’s death, and in Cobain: Montage of Heck that would have been the easy route to go for.  Instead Brett Morgan does not do this.  There is one clip where Cobain does state that Nirvana will never be successful, which is shown right before they explode hugely as a band, and this does arguably insinuate that he didn’t want the fame.  The fact is though there was more to his suicide, and this is made evident in Cobain: Montage of Heck, or at least there for us to interpret.

Through animation, home videos and interviews we are given an intimate look into the life of Kurt Cobain, and for some it may answer questions as to what made him the man he was.  There are many things we’ll never understand of course because the only person who would truly know is Cobain himself.  Cobain: Montage of Heck is a music documentary that gives fans what they want, an excellent soundtrack (Nirvana of course), a look at Cobain’s formative childhood years and a harsh look at his downfall through the home videos and interviews presented to us.  This is how we can understand ourselves the life of an enigma, and realise the tragedy of a life taken too soon.  A must for music fans, especially those who still love Nirvana, Cobain: Montage of Heck is one hell of an impactful experience.

***** 5/5

Cobain: Montage of Heck is available on DVD and digitally now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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