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Review: Kurt Cobain, Montage of Heck- Into the Mind of the Musical Genius

BY GINA COETZEE

This is not depressed and lonely swansong, but an ode to a great musician’s life. Kurt Cobain is painted in every light; exposing his vulnerabilities, childhood struggles, deep love for music and his confusions. A man with desires to better himself. A man fighting with his inner hopelessness.

Kurt Cobian: Montage of Heck, directed by Brett Morgen, creatively uncovers the dark corners of this mastermind, who skirted the thin line between pure genius and complete madness. Cobain, considered one of the greatest musicians of all time, was lost forever at the young age of twenty-seven.

As part of DIFF Beats (a series of musical themed documentaries which lends themselves to some cool content on iTunes), this documentary depicts the iconic musician in a different light, exploring him not only as a musician but also as a sensitive, troubled and passionate husband, father and son. American director, Brett Morgen who wrote and directed the film, fantastically combines excellent cinematography with ingenious animation and live footage, to create a unique and different representation of the legend.

Right from the beginning you are drawn into Cobain’s world, before all the fame and fortune, making this film a totally unique experience for all Nirvana and Kurt Cobain fans. With an array of deeply personal interviews that are used, you begin to understand Cobain from the perspective of his mother, sister, father, band members, the infamous Courtney Love (his wife), and even his first girlfriend. This documentary is captivating, portraying the emotional depth of each person’s encounters with the late great Kurt Cobain. This is not a romanticized account of the grunge rocker’s successes, but rather a thoughtful portrait of all facets of the man… the good, the bad and the ugly.

As you follow him from childhood, right up until his last days, the audience is invited into the inner corners of the complicated yet fascinating mind of the Smells Like Teen Spirt singer. The documentary takes a very unique approach to portraying Cobain; it uses live footage meshed with original dialogue from the man himself. The use of animation represents aptly the confused and hugely creative mind of Cobain. Morgan very clearly animates extracts from Cobain’s personal diaries, giving the audience a glimpse of the singer/songwriter’s emotions.

The film tells the stories of a private icon, who was all about the music, and never about the fame. If you are holding out for conspiracy theories about Cobain’s death you will be bitterly disappointed. The film doesn’t actually deal with Cobain’s death, something that was hugely appreciated by this reviewer.

Gina Coetzee is South African born adventurer who is passionate about the traveling, the uniqueness of culture and 
living beyond the comforts of the known.    
Facebook: Gina Coetzee 
Twitter Handle: @gina_coetzee 
Instagram: gina_coetzee



The 36th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, , KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, Gauteng Film Commission, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and a range of other valued partners.

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