Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, also billed as Cobain: Montage of Heck, is a documentary film about Nirvana front man and '90s rock icon Kurt Cobain, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It has received a limited theatrical release worldwide and premiered on television in the United States on HBO on 4 May 2015.
- Written and directed by Brett Morgen.
Quotes from the documentary
- THE FOLLOWING FILM IS BASED ON ART, MUSIC, JOURNALS, SUPER 8 FILMS, AND AUDIO MONTAGES PROVIDED BY THE FAMILY OF KURT COBAIN.
- Opening title screen
- Kurt's brain was just constantly going. … As I grew up, I'm, like, I'm so glad I don't—I never got that genius brain.
- Kim Cobain (Kurt's sister)
- Praise was hard for him to take, maybe? And he didn't know how to handle that.
- Wendy O'Connor (Kurt's mother)
I guess, like, we were more "friends"? I didn't know what "falling in love" was, so, I'd never experienced it. So I just thought, because I liked him I loved him. And so he got me an engagement ring and we got engaged. Y'know, it was fun; I mean, it was like, okay, I'm—all those problems are behind me, now; I'm gonna have babies!
- Wendy O'Connor
- Kurt, he was hyper, full of energy, always busy, y'know, jumping off of things, knocking things over—anything that would have to do with being a normal child. And Don, he didn't know how to handle that. He was one of those kind of people that just thought children should be seen and not heard and shouldn't cause any trouble. I mean, he belittled and ridiculed Kurt would be shamed.
- Wendy O'Connor
- Kurt was nine at the time, and everybody was talking about it. It just embarrassed him to death that we had gotten divorced. He…just became really unruly.
- Wendy O'Connor
- And I think there's one thing that I said at one time, that I was never gonna get married again. And I think he took that for a word. Then I met Jennifer, and we got married, and, you know, he had a step-brother and -sister and then our son, Chad.
- Don Cobain (Kurt's father)
- He wanted to be in a family—period. … The game nights that we had, that was really important to him. … He wanted to be the most loved, and it just wasn't the ideal world that he thought a family should be.
- Jenny Cobain (Kurt's stepmother)
- It was like nobody—after a couple of weeks, they wanted him out. I think the sad part of the whole thing is that Kurt just really wanted to be with his mom.
- Jenny Cobain
- It's almost like he didn't—he didn't feel worthy because he was rejected, basically. And I don't know how anybody deals with having your whole family reject you.
- Jenny Cobain
- In a community that stresses macho male sexual stories as a highlight of all conversation, I was an underdeveloped, immature little dude that never got laid and was constantly razzed. "Oh, poor little kid." It bothered me probably more so because I was horny and frequently had to make up stories like, "Oh, when I went on vacation, I met this chick and we fucked and she loved it." Et cetera, et cetera.
- Kurt Cobain (archive audio)
- I accumulated quite a healthy complex, not to mention a complexion. Then one day I discovered the most ultimate form of expression ever: marijuana. Oh, boy—pot! I could escape all day long and not have routine nervous breakdowns.
- It turned out that pot didn't help me to escape my troubles too well anymore and I was actually enjoying doing rebellious things like stealing booze and busting store windows. And nothing ever mattered. I decided within the next month, I'll not sit on my roof and think about jumping, but I'll actually kill myself. And I wasn't going out of this world without knowing what it was actually like to get laid. … And so, during lunch, a rumour started, and by the next day, everyone was waiting for me, to yell and cuss and spit at me, calling me "the retard fucker." I couldn't handle the ridicule, so I got high and drunk and walked down to the train tracks, and laid down and put two big pieces of cement on my chest and legs and I waited for the eleven o-clock train. And the train came closer and closer and closer, and it went on the next track besides me instead of over me. The tension from school had an effect on me, and the train scared me enough to try to rehabilitate myself, and my—my lifting weights and—and mathematics seemed to be improving, so I became less manically depressed, but still never had any friends because I—I hated everyone, for they were so phony.
- People don't realise where we really came from, y'know? What an isolated hellhole it really is. Y'know, man, if witch burnings would've been legal, we would've all been dead now, y'know?
- Buzz Osborne (archive audio)
- He'd always have to, like, do some kind of art, y'know, usually defacing something. He never had, like, idle hands. It just came out of him. He had to express himself.
- Krist Novoselic (Kurt's friend)
- I liked that he was funny. He made me laugh. He wasn't afraid to be, you know, goofy or silly.
- Tracey Marander (Kurt's girlfriend)
- He was ambitious. He didn't want to just be—play in a bar band, y'know, and play that way; he wanted to be a success.
- Tracey Marander
- Hey, girl
She could bring me
I could be more
She could be free
I don't even care
We could be on free
- She could have soared with pleasant dreams
She could evolve with what I seen
She could have been a son
She could have sung a song
- The KKK Are the only Niggers.
- may women rule the world.
- Abort Christ.
- your Government hates you
- Assassinate the Greater And lesser of two evils.
- your parents are afraid of you
- punk rock means freedom
- my emotions are affected by music.
- I use bits and pieces of other personalities to form my own.
- I am threatened by ridicule
- Humans Are Dumb
All Humans Are stupid I'mAshamed to be AHuman
- Some things Kurt Cobain wrote in his journals
- Kurt hated being humiliated. He hated it. He hated it. If he ever thought he was humiliated, then you would see the rage come out.
- He had really violent dreams a lot. People would be breaking into his house, trying to kill him, and he'd have to stab them.
- Tracey Marander
- I would give up everything to have good health. But then again, I'm always afraid that, if I lost the stomach problem, I might not be as creative.
- And he's standing there with this tape in his hand, and I go, "What's that?" And he goes, "It's the master cut to my new album. Can I put it on the stereo?" And I go, "Yeah, and turn it up! Up, up, up!" ('Cause I listen to music really loud.) And I look at him and I go, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God." And I almost started crying. I mean, at—not from happiness—from fear. It was fear. And I just went, "This is going to change everything." And I said, "You better buckle up, 'cause you are not ready for this."
- Wendy O'Connor
- He was super cute, but he carried himself like someone who didn't know that—and that was part of the charm. He didn't know that he was a better-looking guy than Brad Pitt.
- Courtney Love: I can't—I know it's not even like I can't trust you; it's just, you can't trust men in general, even if they're "new men," and they're—they're you. And even if they're like you, you still can't trust them.
Kurt Cobain: I understand what you're trying to say, but I don't agree.
Courtney Love: You just—
Kurt Cobain: I'm a "new man," I'm a man for the '90s!
- And if you say your prayers
You will make God happy
- If there's anything we're determined to do, it's to give Frances as much love as we can.
- …and nodding out and…I was pretty sure he knew I knew. But I decided one time to just confront him. And I went up to his bedroom; he was sitting on the side of his bed, and he was crying, because I had just arrived and he knew it was breaking my heart.
- Wendy O'Connor
HE WAS 27 YEARS OLD.
- Closing title screen
Quotes about the documentary
- It's emotional journalism. It's the closest thing to having Kurt tell his own story in his own words—by his own aesthetic, his own perception of the world. It paints a portrait of a man attempting to cope with being a human. When Brett and I first met, I was very specific about what I wanted to see, how I wanted Kurt to be represented. I told him, "I don't want the mythology of Kurt or the romanticism." Even though Kurt died in the most horrific way possible, there is this mythology and romanticism that surrounds him, because he's 27 forever. The shelf life of an artist or musician isn't particularly long. Kurt has gotten to icon status because he will never age. He will always be that relevant in that time and always be beautiful.
- Frances Bean Cobain as quoted by David Fricke, "Frances Bean Cobain on Life After Kurt's Death: An Exclusive Q&A", Rolling Stone (8 April 2015).
- I find it amusing that the filmmakers never bothered to fact-check [simple stuff], and just took Kurt and Courtney at their word. That’s a bit risky when you’re supposed to be making a behind-the-scenes documentary — but not surprising considering that not a lot of what’s out there about Kurt is the truth anyway. But no one seems to care. Unfortunately, it matters very little what the facts are; what matters is what people believe. And when it comes to Cobain, most of what they believe is fabricated nonsense. Montage of Heck does nothing to counter that. With that in mind, it’s really hard to take any of this film seriously.
- I suppose this movie will be interesting for Nirvana completists, because it certainly reinforces their already twisted view of the man. I found it to be mostly misguided fiction. Not a happy experience. I did enjoy the really cool animation, though, and they did a fantastic job of showing what a depressing shit-hole Aberdeen really was and still is. For that, I salute them!
- Buzz Osborne, "Buzz Osborne (the Melvins) Talks the HBO Documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck", Talkhouse (6 June 2015)
Cast (in order of appearance)
- Kim Cobain — herself
- Kurt Cobain — himself (archive footage)
- Krist Novoselic — himself
- Wendy O'Connor — herself
- Don Cobain — himself
- Jenny Cobain — herself
- Tracey Marander — herself
- Dave Grohl — himself (archive footage)
- Courtney Love — herself
- Frances Bean Cobain — herself (archive footage)