HD Video, photos and words by G.
When Nirvana’s music was new in the early 1990s, I was in a “I will only listen to classic rock and Prince” phase, so I missed out on being present for arguably the last band that really changed the world. About 10 years after Kurt Cobain committed suicide, I was ready to hear Nirvana’s music with an open-minded ear, and I had a way after the fact epiphany on their greatness. For those who gave Kurt that crown in his life time, they are about to see a whole different side of Kurt Cobain that until now has only existed in myths and legends.
At the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19, 2015, I went to the premiere of Brett Morgen’s documentary “Montage of Heck,” and if you are even remotely interested in Nirvana or Kurt Cobain, I cannot recommend this movie enough to you. The film has everything you could ask for – from lots of home movies of a young Kurt Cobain to interviews with mother, father, sister, generous helpings of entries from his journals that come to life (you’ll see!), performance footage and home movies that show him as a loving, but drug addicted father (and apparently 80% of the footage in the film has never been seen before by the public). You will see that from an early age, Kurt was tremendously talented, yet also very troubled. From bad family relations to chronic stomach problems, to drug use, Kurt Cobain had the odds stacked against him from the very beginning, but he did not let any of these things deter his love of music and he made his vision of becoming a rock star a reality. What he didn’t expect (and memo to everyone post 1900 that becomes famous – everyone wants a piece of you all the time! If you don’t want that, look for a different path in life), was that you can’t just be famous and have people leave you alone. At the height of Nirvana’s fame in 1991, Kurt canceled a tour to instead do drugs and hang out in his apartment. Every time Kurt would get his shit together, the moment was fleeting and he would relapse into drug use, even after he and his wife, Courtney Love, had a child. He was haunted by magazine articles that openly called out their drug use, as Courtney owns up to being on heroin while pregnant. Coupled with the paranoia that she was cheating, Kurt Cobain overdosed on pills while on tour in Italy and committed suicide a month later at the age of 27. You’ll probably never hear “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” from their legendary MTV Unplugged appearance the same way again.
“Montage of Heck,” will make you will feel like you are eavesdropping in intimate moments, when you see footage of Kurt and Courtney in the bathroom getting ready (the footage was shot by a member of Courtney’s band Hole) and you might even feel disgusted when you see the shambolic state of their living quarters, riddled with trash, but most of all, when you see Kurt nodding out from heroin use while he and Courtney are cutting their daughter’s hair, you will feel sad for a man who may have had fortune and fame, but had a pretty shitty life in most respects. After the film, director Brett Morgen and Courtney Love discussed the film and Courtney alluded to the fact that a sex tape exists (it’s thankfully not in “Montage of Heck”). Much of what they discussed is readily available in articles you’ll see about the film, but I thought the most poignant moment was Courtney Love discussing what it was like to see the film. Get the tissues ready and check out this clip.
“Montage of Heck” will be shown on HBO on May 4, 2015 and you should not miss it! Hopefully a DVD release date will be announced soon, because this is possibly the most important document that Nirvana fans could ever own (and if Brett Morgen is reading, please fill it with bonus features!!!!). Coincidentally, I recently read the book “Heavier Than Heaven” by Charles Cross and I also recommend it as it will fill in some of the gaps that this amazing 2 hour and 12 minute movie didn’t have time to get to.