When I was 19, I had, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” permanently inked on my right foot. I’m far from a Kurt and/or Nirvana expert, but I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. Due to my deep interest in Kurt and his legacy, I can say without a doubt, this documentary disappointed me beyond belief.
Overview: The title of this documentary perfectly suits the style in which the film is presented. It truly is a fast-paced montage of Kurt’s life and legacy. Photographs, home movies and original artwork are incorporated in a psychedelic fashion. The documentary follows a chronological sequence from Kurt’s birth and ultimately to his death. Buckle up and hold on tightly, because you’re in for a wild trip with “Montage of Heck.”
What I loved: I was thrilled to see footage and images of Kurt as a child. Throughout all my research, I never had come across any videos of him as a baby. These images reiterated the fact Kurt fell in love with music at a very young age. Seeing tour footage was also incredible as I was obviously too young to ever see him live. You could most definitely see despite all of Kurt’s hardships and his troubled past, he felt most comfortable in his own skin while performing. His personality bloomed on stage and he was a natural performer.
My favorite scene of the documentary is the footage of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” during its music video shoot. The shots are in slow motion and what sounds like a children chorus is singing the song in the background. It was hauntingly beautiful.
What I didn’t: My first few thoughts were where the hell is Dave Grohl? I was severely saddened he was not interviewed. Even Krist Novoselec barely had any time in front of the camera. Instead, Kurt’s mother and Courtney Love maintained most of the interview spotlight, both women of which are arguably the most poisonous people Kurt had in his life. And speaking of interviews, the documentary maybe had 15 to 20 minutes of interviews all together. The majority of the documentary featured creepy cartoons, bizarre clips from old television shows and very strange pictures and drawings.
At times, I felt comfortable walking out of the room for a few minutes, because I knew I wasn’t going to miss anything besides images of what a bad acid trip may have looked like.
The most painful scenes to watch revealed just how incoherent and stoned Kurt seemed to be while using drugs. Home videos with him and the Yoko of grunge were difficult to watch. In one scene, Kurt is holding baby Frances and he can barely keep his eyes open. It was disgusting to see and actually made me lose a little respect for him. It’s one thing to know he used heroin, but to actually witness him high and holding his newborn child was horrendous.
As odd and strange as “Montage of Heck” might have been to me, I have a feeling Kurt would have been proud. Although, I couldn’t help myself from wondering, if Kurt had had a different upbringing, would Montage of Heck still have been made or would a montage of his achievements been made instead?