Being a Nirvana fan wasn’t always a depressing experience. At the height of their powers, the band gave hope to everyone with a low tolerance for frivolous pop music. The feelings of euphoric excitement surrounding Nirvana came to an abrupt end in April 1994 when Kurt Cobain died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Since then, his estate has been in the hands of Courtney Love, who has been very careful to ensure that Cobain’s story is told on her terms. The latest example? Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.
By all indications (including rave reviews from the Sundance Film Festival), this is an expertly crafted documentary. Director Brett Morgen has previously made glossy docs about The Rolling Stones (Crossfire Hurricane) and iconic movie producer Robert Evans (The Kids Stays in the Picture). But like those films, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is an authorized doc, which means anything that might reflect poorly on Courtney or the family has been ignored.
Whatever the circumstances of Cobain’s death, this new documentary appears to be a heartfelt look at a musical genius’ rapid rise and fall. Knowing the grim (if briefly triumphant) future that lay in store, it’s hard not to be moved by glimpses of a toddler-aged Cobain warming up for his fleeting moment of glory. You can watch the trailer below, but you might want to grab some Kleenex first.