I don’t usually write review-type things, but having recently watched Montage of Heck – a documentary based on the life of Kurt Cobain – I felt compelled to. I have been a fan of Nirvana since a child when Roy would play the band’s albums whilst travelling to the beach for a family day out. Not knowing much about Cobain except he seemed timid yet opinionated, was a highly skilled musician, unfortunately took drugs and sadly had an untimely death (which resulted in him becoming part of the infamous 27 Club) I was keen to find out more about him. Over the past couple of years, I have watched numerous documentaries on him, listened to interviews and have read plenty of theories on forums, however it was a struggle to find out more about him as his identity as a rock icon seemed to overshadow him as a person, as Kurt Cobain.
When I heard that a documentary film was going to be released on Cobain, I became intrigued, especially as the film was going to show archive footage of him. I didn’t purchase the DVD when it first came out as I wanted the hype around the release to calm down, so that I could watch Montage of Heck with an impartial mind-set.
Montage of Heck is beautifully put together and entwines the use of interviews, animation, archive footage and photography so well. The interviews with Tracy Marander caught my attention the most, mainly because she described Cobain before the fame and explained how health-conscious and deeply sensitive he was, in particular to being accepted. Looking at footage whilst on stage or being interviewed you wouldn’t have thought this was the same man and it makes me wonder why he became the person he was, what triggered him to fall down the spiral and unfortunately it is something we will never know.
To me I get the impression that he only felt worthy when on stage, however the stage couldn’t fulfil where he considered that he failed in other areas in his life: being part of a family, a good father, a loving husband, enjoying enriching and genuine friendships, experiencing the joys which come with life as well as being himself.
When you think of a rock star you think of a wreckless, drug-taking and all drink consuming individual that doesn’t think of the consequences until they are done. In my opinion, Kurt was the above, except I do think he thought about the consequences before he acted upon them, but couldn’t find a way to escape. If he escaped his career as the front man of one of the biggest bands of the 90’s, then what else would he have felt accomplished in?
Watching the film footage of him interacting with Frances you can tell how much he adored that little girl and that if he didn’t take his own life he would have had such an enriching and wonderful relationship with his daughter.
The film does not examine his death, and why should it? His death has heightened his fame as a rock star and not as Kurt Cobain as a person.
No one wants to feel rejected, under-valued and unwanted, but how you deal with it is what either makes you or breaks you. It’s sad that although he fought to create such a great career, that he couldn’t use this fighting force to get him through life.
Although we’ll probably never know the full story behind his downfall and the causes which created it, all we can do is celebrate his legacy as a musician and enjoy the great music which he and his band members brought to the world.