Powerful documentary brings us closer to the truth behind Kurt Cobain than ever before.
Due to various rows and legal battles over Kurt’s image rights and Nirvana’s music there is not a great deal of stuff out there in terms of Nirvana documentaries. The closest thing to Montage of Heck would be Live! Tonight! Sold Out! which is more of a collection of live performance albeit with lots of interview and news footage thrown in.
Montage of Heck is more linear than Live! Tonight! Sold Out! but it is still surrealist and arty, particularly the absolutely brilliant animations that bring to life Kurt’s haunting private journals.
There is also more interviews with people talking solely about Kurt and not Nirvana’s music with Kurt’s mum and dad, his wife Courtney Love, close friend and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and a couple of others all being (disappointingly very gently) interviewed. The interviews were the only aspect of Montage of Heck that was a let down. Even at over two hours I think there was much more room for insight from other people that Kurt knew. There was nothing from other bands or former Nirvana band mates (no Dave Grohl!!) or people from Sub Pop or Geffen Records and the always interesting Krist Novoselic is relegated to just a few minutes.
This is only a minor gripe though and the extensive and exclusive home footage more than makes up for it. The juxtaposition of home movies of Kurt as a child and Kurt with Frances his daughter is both challenging and jarring but it is also a unique insight to a fascinating and enigmatic presence in modern music.
If you want to learn more about Nirvana than watch Live at Reading or Unplugged in New York because the glorious rage inherent in the songs is all you need to know about that fucking amazing band but if it is Kurt the man that interests you than you can’t go wrong with Montage of Heck.
Shocking but never exploitative, no holes barred but also warm, Montage of Heck is a love letter not just to a band but to a man who has touched so many peoples lives (including my own).