This month, HBO released a new documentary about Kurt Cobain’s life called Montage of Heck. Unlike past documentaries on the legendary guitarist and singer, this one highlights his humanity and shares perhaps the most intimate look at his life that his fans have ever had. Director Brett Morgan worked with Cobain’s family, including his daughter Frances Bean Cobain, who provided home movies, photographs, and journals.
At times funny and at other times deeply sad, Montage of Heck manages to give fans a nuanced portrait of the man behind “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and many other classic rock songs of the 90s. Unlike other films that have focused heavily on the dark parts of his life, we got glimpses of his humor, resilience, and heart. Here are just a few of the things we learned about Kurt from the film.
1. Kurt worked really, really hard.
Despite his slacker image and status in the grunge scene, the portions of Kurt’s journals shown in the film reveal a hard-working driven artist intent on doing whatever it took to be successful. Although his relationship with fame was often difficult, there’s no denying that he worked incredibly hard to get where he did.
2. Kurt was a totally adorable kid.
Honestly, we weren’t surprised he was a cute kid, but watch that clip until he waves and just try not to wave back.
3. Nirvana was almost called “Nasty Rash”.
Actually, there were many names Nirvana could have had, some of them funny, some political, but none as fitting as the one they chose. Somehow, it’s hard to imagine Nasty Rash dominating the airwaves in the same way.
4. He loved being a father.
Footage of Cobain with his daughter Frances Bean reveals his profound love for her. He says many times that playing rock and roll was all he ever wanted, but later in the film there is a clip where he says he would give it up for her. He even jokes about letting her throw up in his mouth. If that’s not love, we don’t know what is.
5. He had a lighter side.
Many portrayals of Cobain focus heavily on his drug addiction, depression, and troubled relationship with Courtney Love. While Montage of Heck certainly doesn’t shy away from these issues, we get a glimpse of a lighter side to Kurt. His music was certainly dark, but he was not all doom and gloom. It’s refreshing and rare to see him crack a joke, and seeing this new side to him gave us a new perspective on on the irony and humor you hear from time to time in his songs.
All in all, it was an engrossing documentary, and we came away with new ideas. Have you seen it? Do you want to? Or is there another music documentary you’d like to recommend? Tell us all about it in the comments below!