Aaron Lindquist
Director, Editor, & Writer

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Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Bret Morgen's portrait is the likes of which you've never seen before. A testament to the unique person that was Kurt Cobain. Through a combination of sketches, doodles, paintings, photographs and voice recordings (all set to animation) the audience gets a candid look at a kind, disarming yet tortured artist. 

I left the theater feeling that I'd seen the story of a brilliant young man who suffered from a personality disorder. The constant shifting around in his childhood, from family member to family member, seemed to make it difficult for Kurt to see himself as one person. He struggled with the idea of a home he could ever return to. 

Kurt Cobain, age fifteen

Kurt Cobain, age fifteen

His constant battle with colitis meant often unbearable pain in his stomach. Combined with his reluctant fame and introverted nature, heroin became a panacea for discomfort he felt at every level. To Morgen's credit, he does not excuse the drug use. Seeing Cobain try to give a haircut to his daughter (while too dazed to be there) should serve as a cautionary tale. 

Kurt Cobain and daughter Frances Bean

Kurt Cobain and daughter Frances Bean

I'd liken Kurt to a Shakespeare character, if he were not an actual person. Like Hamlet, he wanted so much to be more and when he became everything to everyone he wanted to be less. The one retreat he had from the pain was music and the more famous he became he saw the world built around his passion become the ultimate enemy. A machine of profit and promotion rather than an outlet for artistic expression. Heroin was the substitute.

Several documentaries have been made about Cobain that are more or less diffuse, depending on the access or lack of understanding to a man that has the status of a religious figure. None have let Cobain speak so much for himself. Here we see a man who was driven to be the absolute best at what he did, despite how little he cared for fame and was unable to handle the ridicule. 

If there is a truth to be told, it's in the life that Kurt and Courtney Love had together. Their love, as misguided and adolescent as it may have been, seems too raw and rough around the edges to be a counterfeit. I doubt they would have done things the same if they had known the outcome, but they must have felt immortal at the time.