Kurt Cobain was famously aloof in interviews, a revered generational spokesman who was always trying to weasel out of the job. Since his death 21 years ago, the questions have only deepened. Which is what makes the new documentary Cobain: Montage of Heck, out now on Blu-ray and DVD, such a revelation. Director Brett Morgen was granted unfettered access to Cobain’s archives, including home movies, 200 hours of unreleased music and audio recordings, 4,000 pages of writings, and a stunning collection of personal artwork, and used it to create a portrait of Cobain that’s more human — and more tragic — than we previously understood. “Just when we realise how much more there was to him, it’s over,” Morgen says. “That’s the sadness of this experience: This is the last of it.”
You tell a lot of Kurt’s story through his artwork. It’s amazing how versatile he was.
From the moment he was able to hold a paintbrush, he was creating. And he never stopped creating. Unlike most artists who work in one or two different media, Kurt worked in music, spoken word, sculpture, painting, mixed-media collages, oral soundscapes. He pretty much worked with anything he would get his hands on. His work is like an autobiography.
The film contains many home movies taken during Kurt’s decline into heroin addiction. Did you worry it could be too much?
Over the past 20 years, there’s been a romanticism of Kurt’s heroin use, because the public wasn’t confronted with the darker face of it. This film demystifies that image. But the question came up, would he want people to see this? My feeling was, we weren’t trying to put Kurt on a pedestal, and we weren’t trying to throw him on the ground and kick dirt on him. We were trying to look him in the eye.
For the full interview grab the July 2015 issue of MAXIM, in stores from June 18 to July 16.
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