January 26, 2015 3:40 pm
Updated: January 26, 2015 3:41 pm

Sundance: Doc probes life, death of Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain's daughter Frances Bean Cobain and his wife Courtney Love, pictured with filmmaker Brett Morgen.

Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP
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PARK CITY, Utah — Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, a fiery, evocative and deeply felt look at one of rock’s most misunderstood and tragic figures, presents a portrait of a man and an artist in despair with the aid of never-before-seen home videos, personal notes and archival footage.

The film, a fully authorized account of Cobain’s life, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday.

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Director Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) spent eight years putting the movie together. The insightful film pulsates with vitality and rage in its examination of the short life of Cobain, from his childhood in Aberdeen, Washington to his suicide in 1994 at the age of 27.

“He just wanted to have a family. I think the perception of Kurt all these years has been so off – this whiney white male who didn’t like fame,” said Morgen at a screening Monday. “It’s a story of a guy who dies of a broken heart. It’s a real tragedy.”

The illuminating home videos range from scenes of Cobain as a happy 2-year-old, blowing kisses at the camera and offering his cracker to the person behind the camera, to him, visibly and uncomfortably strung out and rail thin, holding his young daughter Frances Bean as his wife Courtney Love attempts to give their toddler a haircut.

The narrative is mostly linear but nonetheless experimental. Morgen uses everything from Nirvana’s music, Cobain’s private writings, drawings, to-do lists, animation and archived interviews to tell a dizzyingly complicated story. It also does not shy away from showing both the dark and lightness of Cobain, and includes honest and heartbreaking interviews with his parents, sister, stepmother, a former girlfriend and Love.

“I didn’t want to make a film about fantasy and unfortunately for the past 25 years, Kurt has represented heroin chic,” said Morgen. “It’s brutal and it’s ugly and it’s dark and you don’t want to look at it. But I felt this represented reality…it’s important for the public to stop deifying him.”

© 2015 The Associated Press

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