Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Zoe Kirchoffer-Talbott

More stories from Zoe Kirchoffer-Talbott


The documentary Montage of Heck was released on Apr. 9, 2015. The movie told the story of the Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain. The tragic but fascinating life story about the charming artist draws you in just from the beginning. 

We begin the film learning about his mother and her life before and at the beginning of the birth and life of Cobain. The start of the movie features home videos and pictures of Cobain and his family, who experience life as just another white suburban family in the 60’s, as well as views of his hometown Aberdeen, Washington.

One thing I really enjoyed about this documentary was that since I visited Kurt Cobain’s hometown (Aberdeen, Washington), videos and descriptions of Aberdeen were very familiar to me. I drove into Aberdeen, recognizing the layout of the town and more. Taking into account that this is a small town, not much has changed since he was a young child.

We take in information about how he behaved as a child, a child who had high energy and could not contain himself, and the way he drew people in with his booming personality. The way they portrayed him made me see him as an average child, but I was able to pick up on the fact that he was unique and was a very special kid as the film went on. 

We then learn about what his teenage years were like and the film managed to include interviews with Cobain as well as intriguing animations to go alongside the stories. Cobain experienced a gloomy and troubled childhood, turning to the usage of marijuana and rebellious actions. Going back to the fact that I visited his hometown, I was able to sit at the park only a few blocks away from his childhood home and get to hang out underneath the bridge where he would smoke weed with his friends. The clip in the film of that hangout spot was animated and it was a cool experience to be able to think to myself “I sat there.” I must appreciate the animations and how they made the stories really come to life, as we see the place Cobain used to smoke weed with his friends, his neighborhood, detailed animations of his home and much more.

 As we move on further into the film, we learn about his love for music, guitar and art. The movie shows drawings Cobain created and the film creators animated his art, making the art just that more intense and interesting. We learn about the start of his music career and are shown clips of his very first concerts. The selection of clips they chose made me feel like I was a part of these experiences. Pictured in those scenes is a dark stage with many people gathering and talking, showing off fashion and style you would expect to see in the late 80’s, early 90’s grunge scene in Seattle. The film features songs made throughout the career of Cobain, and is even more exciting to listen to when you watch recordings of live concerts. 

 Next, we learn about Nirvana’s rise to fame and how the band members dealt with such popularity. The movie displays interviews with the band. I admire the way that the film creators presented rare clips and photos. 

We end the movie with videos and pictures from Cobain’s final years and the time he spent with his wife, Courtney Love, and child, Frances Bean Cobain. This film was extremely vivid, gut-wrenching and very gripping, with art, music, clips, photos, interviews, animations and more.