Cobain: Montage of Heck

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German title Cobain: Montage of Heck
Original title Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 2015
Age rating FSK 12
Director Board tomorrow
script Board tomorrow
production Brett Morgen,
Danielle Renfrew Behrens
music Jeff Danna
camera James Whitaker ,
Nicole Hirsch Whitaker ,
Eric Alan Edwards
cut Joe Beshenkovsky ,
Brett Morgen

Cobain: Montage of Heck is an American documentary from the year 2015 about the founder and lead singer of the American US rock band Nirvana , Kurt Cobain . Directed by Brett Morgen . The film was first shown at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival . The documentary covers Kurt Cobain's life, from his birth in 1967 in Aberdeen, through difficult teenage years , to his glorious rise as the front man of Nirvana and his death in Seattle in April 1994 at the age of 27 .

Among other things, the film shows drawings and pictures by Cobain, underlaid with music and sound collages composed by him. This material has also been released as the Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings soundtrack and book.


After his birth, his parents moved to Aberdeen, and his sister Kim was born a little later. Kurt has a normal childhood, even though he doesn't have a good relationship with his father. When he was nine years old, the couple divorced. He lives with him until his father Don remarries and then moves back in with his mother. In his teens, he was noticeable for his insubordination and began to use marijuana and alcohol . During this time he spoke about suicide for the first time. After a first attempt to get to know a girl fails, his classmates start making fun of him. Cobain, unable to resist the ridicule, lies down on railroad tracks intending to end his life, but the train races past him on the next track.

After leaving home, he lives with friends and meets Krist Novoselic . Together with Chad Channing , they founded their band Nirvana in 1987 . They make their first appearances in front of friends or at parties, and finally they appear in clubs. At this time, Cobain met Tracy Marander . The band signed their first record deal and released their first album, Bleach . Cobain separates from Marander, Channing leaves the band and the band changes to the DGC Records label . Dave Grohl becomes a new band member.

After the release of their album Nevermind in 1991, the single Smells Like Teen Spirit became a world hit. Cobain meets Courtney Love and they marry Loves in 1992 due to pregnancy. At around the same time, Cobain became addicted to heroin . After an interview with music journalist Lynn Hirschberg for Vanity Fair magazine , a controversy ensues . Love accused Hirschberg of quoting her incorrectly, giving the impression that she had occasionally injected heroin even during pregnancy. Shortly after their daughter Frances was born, authorities questioned her suitability as parents because of drug use. Based on the statements in the Vanity interview, Frances will be withdrawn from her parents for four weeks. When regular urine tests and visits from a social worker are arranged, custody is returned to the couple, which later, after months of legal negotiations, is eventually converted into full custody.

Cobain's drug addiction continued when her 1993 album In Utero was released. Pat Smear becomes a member of the band and a stadium tour begins. Shortly thereafter, they performed on MTV Unplugged and began touring again in early 1994. After Cobain had a laryngitis , he went to Rome for medical treatment. On March 4, 1994, Love found her husband passed out after taking champagne and the sleeping pill, Rohypnol . Cobain spends five days in the hospital and returns to Seattle after recovering. The film ends with the insertion of the text “One month after returning from Rome, Kurt Cobain took his own life. He was 27 years old. "(" One month after his return from Rome, Kurt Cobain committed suicide. He was 27 years old. ")


The documentary was shot by Brett Morgen , who started work on it back in 2007 when Courtney Love contacted him with the idea. This resulted in the first and so far only documentation that was developed in collaboration with the Cobains family. Morgen had access to the entire personal archives of Cobain and his family.

The film title goes back to a song that Cobain recorded in two versions in 1988 with a cassette recorder .

Various scenes were animated by Stefan Nadelman and Hisko Hulsing .


The film premiered on January 24, 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently shown at the Berlinale on February 8, 2015 . It was shown in selected cinemas in the USA from April 24, 2015, and was released on DVD from November 13, 2015.


"In order to illustrate both, reality and illusion, Brett Morgen condenses the diverse archive material from all phases of his 27 years with virtuoso comic passages, living sketches and periodically fading screen over Nirvana's varied soundtrack. All of this makes Montage of Heck a filmed decay process that spares no one and enriches everyone. "

- Jan Friday : The time

“The film shows why this inconspicuous boy was able to become the last big rock'n'roll myth at breakneck speed for the time being. And he creates the marvel that you can hear the music of Nirvana again after seeing this film as if it were the first time. "

- Benjamin Moldenhauer : Spiegel Online

“If M Morgen Film makes one thing clear, it is that the alleged anti-rock star yearned for attention all his life: he read most of the articles that were written about him. His diaries also seemed to have been designed to be studied by posterity. And yet there remains a strange aftertaste: Even when he was still alive, Kurt Cobain could not escape the limelight. Apparently he succeeds even less in death. "

- Reiner Reitsamer : The world


Ashland Independent Film Festival 2015

  • Best Editing: Feature Length Documentary

International Documentary Association 2015

  • Creative Recognition Award - Best Editing (Joe Beshenkovsky, Brett Morgen)

Cinema Eye Honors Awards 2016

  • Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation ( Stefan Nadelman , Hisko Hulsing )
  • Cinema Eye Audience Choice Prize (Brett Morgen) - nominated
  • Cinema Eye Honors Award - Outstanding Achievement in Editing (Joe Beshenkovsky, Brett Morgen) - nominated

Motion Picture Sound Editors 2016

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for Cobain: Montage of Heck . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , March 2015 (PDF; test number: 151 014 K).
  2. a b Frances Bean Cobain-Produced Kurt Cobain Documentary to Debut on HBO in 2015 . In: Billboard , November 25, 2014. 
  3. a b Jon Blistein: Kurt Cobain Doc 'Montage of Heck' to Premiere on HBO in 2015 . In: Rolling Stone , November 25, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  4. Dennis Harvey: Sundance Film Review: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' . In: Variety . February 2, 2015. Accessed February 7, 2015.
  5. Phoebe Reilly: Sundance 2015: Brett Morgen on Cobain, Courtney and 'Montage of Heck' . In: Rolling Stone , January 28, 2015. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ Michael Nienaber: Kurt Cobain comes as he is in visceral documentary , Reuters. February 8, 2015. Accessed February 25, 2015. 
  7. James Grebey: Kurt Cobain Doc 'Montage of Heck' Will Get Limited Theatrical Release . In: Spin , March 20, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2015. 
  8. Jan Friday: The Man of Sorrows . In: Die Zeit April 6, 2015.
  9. Benjamin Moldenhauer: Extremely loud and incredibly close . In: . April 9, 2015.
  10. Reiner Reitsamer: Kurt Cobain wanted to commit suicide as a schoolboy . In: The world . April 10, 2015.