Kurt Cobain’s widow says she wouldn’t change a thing about Mon­tage of Heck, even though the con­fronting doc­u­men­tary is raw at times

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - CAMERON ADAMS

Court­ney Love doesn’t come out of the new Kurt Cobain doc­u­men­tary Mon­tage Of Heck in a par­tic­u­larly flat­ter­ing light. That made direc­tor Brett Morgen ner­vous when Love even­tu­ally saw the fin­ished prod­uct of the film she had no ed­i­to­rial con­trol over.

“I was hor­ri­fied to show her the film be­cause I didn’t think she came out look­ing so great,” Morgen says.

“She didn’t bother to see it un­til it was com­pletely fin­ished. But when she saw the film, she didn’t have a sin­gle note she wanted to change.”

Love had given Morgen un­prece­dented ac­cess to the holy grail for Nir­vana fans – the keys to the stor­age fa­cil­ity hold­ing all the art Cobain cre­ated in his life, from mu­sic to paint­ings, sound col­lages to jour­nals and hours of can­did home video footage.

Morgen’s CV in­cludes the ac­claimed Rolling Stones doc­u­men­tary Cross­fire Hur­ri­cane and The Kid Stays in the Pic­ture, about film­maker Robert Evans.

“Court­ney gave me the great­est gift any­body’s ever be­stowed on me pro­fes­sion­ally, which was trust,” Morgen says. “She gave me ac­cess to all of Kurt’s pos­ses­sions and told me to go make the film I wanted to make.”

In­deed, af­ter watch­ing the film pri­vately with 22-year-old daugh­ter Frances Bean sit­ting in her lap, three days later Love watched it again when it pre­miered at Sun­dance – she wanted to see it with an au­di­ence. A week later at the Ber­lin Film Fes­ti­val Morgen of­fered to take Love out for din­ner while the movie screened be­fore they re­turned for a Q & A ses­sion.

“Court­ney said ‘No, I want to watch it again. I want to spend some time with Kurt tonight’. She told me it’s the clos­est she’s been to Kurt since he died.”

He’s spent an ex­tended pe­riod of time with Love and just as his movie busts myths about Cobain, he’s seen a side of Court­ney few get to ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Court­ney’s had a re­ally bad rap,” he says. “I think it’s time peo­ple start re-ex­am­in­ing Court­ney and re­think­ing this whole thing. She’s an ag­gres­sive, in­tense woman. There’s a lot of gen­der pol­i­tics at play.”

Frances Bean Cobain, now a vis­ual artist, is the film’s ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, but Morgen says that af­ter an ini­tial con­ver­sa­tion about the film’s tone, she was also hand­soff.

“We were in synch,” Morgen says. “Nei­ther of us were in­ter­ested in spin­ning a rose-tinted Dis­ney­fied ver­sion of Kurt. I showed her the film when it was fin­ished, she told me not to touch a frame.”

The home videos are some of the most re­veal­ing mo­ments in Mon­tage Of Heck. One is par­tic­u­larly har­row­ing – a drug-ad­dled Cobain nod­ding off as he was try­ing to hold his baby daugh­ter while Love at­tempted to cut their child’s hair for the first time.

At their pri­vate screen­ing, Love cried and apol­o­gised to her daugh­ter as they watched.

“It was an es­sen­tial piece of film that helped show the depths of his strug­gles,” Morgen says. “It wasn’t just like watch­ing a junkie nod­ding off in the cor­ner of a room. In that same shot, you saw the strug­gle he had be­tween his ad­dic­tion and his de­sire to be a dot­ing fa­ther. You could see that he’s ac­tu­ally be­gin­ning to lose the battle.

“For 25 years, Kurt’s been as­so­ci­ated with heroin but it’s of­ten ro­man­ti­cised. There’s a lot of peo­ple who don’t do heroin be­cause they know Kurt did heroin. It wasn’t like I went into the film think­ing I had to re­veal what he was like on heroin, it’s just that when I saw the footage, it was haunt­ing. It’s ter­ri­ble to look at, I don’t want to see it, but it’s life and it’s hon­est and it’s not pleas­ant to look at but at the same time, it’s an im­por­tant and in­te­gral part of a film on Kurt.”

The film fea­tures in­ter­views with Cobain’s fam­ily, friends and band mates (Dave Grohl was un­avail­able) in­ter­spersed with stop mo­tion an­i­ma­tion of Cobain’s draw­ings, as well as pas­sages nar­rated in his voice (from in­ter­view footage) and un­re­leased Cobain sound col­lages and acous­tic record­ings.

While Morgen will not do a longer direc­tor’s cut of the film, a sound­track with un­heard Cobain solo record­ings and a com­pan­ion book with full tran­script of all in­ter­views used in the film are both be­ing re­leased.

Mon­tage of Heck

ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Frances Bean Cobain, Court­ney Love and direc­tor/writer/pro­ducer Brett Morgen.

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