Brett Morgen (2015)

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is a documentary film about Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain featuring some animated sequences shown throughout. The film was directed by Brett Morgen and premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It received a limited theatrical release worldwide and premiered on HBO. The documentary chronicles the life of Kurt Cobain from his birth in Aberdeen, Washington in 1967, through his troubled early family life and teenage years and rise to fame as frontman of Nirvana, up to his suicide in April 1994 in Seattle at the age of 27.

The film includes artwork by Cobain as well as music and sound collages composed by him. Much of music and sound collages were released on the film’s soundtrack, Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings. A companion book was also released containing animation stills from the film as well as transcripts of interviews, photographs, and pieces of Cobain’s artwork not featured in the film.

The documentary is directed by Brett Morgen, who began work in 2007 when Cobain’s widow Courtney Love approached him with the idea. It is the first documentary about Kurt Cobain to be made with the cooperation of his family. Morgen and his team were given access to the entirety of Cobain’s personal and family archives. The documentary includes footage from various Nirvana performances and unheard songs, as well as unreleased home movies, recordings, artwork, photography, journals, demos, and songbooks. Morgen used the interviews in the film Lenny as a model for the interviews in the film. The film’s title, Montage of Heck, takes its name from a musical collage that was created by Cobain with a 4-track cassette recorder in about 1988, of which there are two versions: one is about 36 minutes and the other about eight minutes. Several scenes were animated by Stefan Nadelman and Hisko Hulsing. Jeff Danna wrote an original score for the film. The film was co-produced by HBO Documentary Films and Universal Pictures International Entertainment Content Group. Cobain and Courtney Love’s only daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was a co-executive producer on the film.

Animated by Polder Animation, Stefan Nadelman, Hisko Hulsing, Paul Schwarz, Marcel Tigchelaar, Marlyn Spaaij, Jan-Jaap Schraverus, Peter Wassink, Stefan Vermeulen, Ronald Van Vemden, Joseph Gilland, Merel Van Den Broek, Nicole Derksen, Yngwie Boley, Mark Bastiaan, Rogier Henkelman, Stein Louisse, and Florian Walraven.