Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

Director: Brett Morgan
Writer:    Brett Morgan
Features: Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Krist Novoselic

An authorized documentary on the late musician Kurt Cobain, from his early days in Aberdeen, Washington to his success and downfall with the grunge band Nirvana. As everyone knows, he killed himself when he was 27, an age at which many famous musicians have perished. Coming into the documentary; I was aware about his death, his daughter and love their music, but didn't know much about his personal background and rest of the stuff in the documentary. It is not really a normal kind of rock documentary in the sense that focus is not much on the actual band or the music but on the lead man of the band, Cobain, itself. It features numerous home videos and several animation sequences to visualize what Cobain is describing and things like his diary notes, drawings etc. There is a very cinematic feel to the whole thing.

Kurt had a difficult childhood with divorced parents and faced rejection from various members of his family because of him being very difficult. From his journals it is conveyed that he contemplated suicide as a teenager and attempted it once by laying himself on a rail track. The train missed him as it was in another track. He also had a difficult time at school and had by then introduced himself into the world of drugs through marijuana. He kind of got over it by getting involved with the band and upon the release of their first album 'Nevermind' they became an overnight sensation with Cobain finding himself as the voice of disaffected youth . Kurt was not clearly ready for it and found love in Courtney Love, another pop artist, and their relationship was defined by both of them being heroin junkies. During the time of pregnancy, both of them were haunted by the US media, who were apparently concerned with the health of their child because of the parents' drug regimen. After the birth of their daughter, she was taken away by the Child services officials and placed under the custody of their relatives. They won the custodial battle even as Nirvana released their subsequent albums. Cobain had a brush with death in Rome, when he fell into a coma after an OD, reason for which is explained by Courtney as him being depressed about her admitting that she contemplated about having an affair. Back in US, he is admitted into a rehab from where he goes missing upon discharge. Seven days later he is found shot dead in a house and there was significant level of heroin in his blood. The details about his death is not there in the documentary which just states that he committed suicide one month after coming back from Europe. *Spoilers ahead which you should not read if planning to watch*

After watching the documentary, I went and read about him and the band in the usual forums that I go and other places in internet, and it turns out like many of the celebrity deaths in US there is a conspiracy theory surrounding Cobain's death. You can read about it here and apparently he wanted a divorce from Courtney and the page is the account from a private detective she had hired after he went missing from the rehab center. There was another artist Eldon Hoke, who claimed that he was approached by Courtney to kill Cobain and was found dead two days later after getting hit by a train at midnight with no witnesses. I really don't know whether this is another one of these kooky conspiracy theories that one normally associate with numerous celebrity deaths in US or it is anything more than that. The private detective who made the allegation was never sued by the family and that doesn't prove anything anyway.

I thought it was a very good watch before coming across this whole conspiracy theory aspect. On reflection, it does seem to be a propaganda piece which is overly trying to portray Cobain as a suicidal personality from his teenage years. His relationship with Courtney is portrayed in a 'too good to be true' manner without any problems between them and the only problem shown is used to explain away him falling into a coma. Cobain's daughter, Frances Cobain, served as co-executive producer of the film and it is due to be screened via HBO on May 4th, 2015. Overall, I guess, it is good watch if you don't know much about his life and death. 

Rating: 3/5