Yup, Brett Morgen Kurt Cobain Biopic Due in 2015: Montage of Heck


Intriguing…It does strike me as too much of a coincidence that a few weeks ago the press suddenly ‘discovered’ the Montage of Heck sound collage and claimed it was new/unreleased despite it having floated round the bootleg world and fan community for a decade and a half at least…And then this week the title “Montage of Heck” appears for the new biopic that is apparently neatly down the line. I suspect ‘priming of the pumps’ – getting that title out in the media, getting the name running around the Internet, getting the search stats up for it, then piling on the news.

Brett Morgen’s press release quotation doing the round is:
“…I figured there would be limited amounts of fresh material to unearth. However, once I stepped into Kurt’s archive, I discovered over 200 hours of unreleased music and audio, a vast array of art projects (oil paintings, sculptures), countless hours of never-before-seen home movies, and over 4000 pages of writings…”

Intriguing…I’d be curious to hear how the archive that Brett has seen differs from the archive that Charles Cross claimed access to for the ‘Cobain Unseen’ book, or that he used in relation to ‘Heavier Than Heaven’ – I can’t imagine that a guy who went from living in a one room apartment in Olympia behind the Pear Street house, then lived in hotels and temporarily rented apartments and so forth for most of summer 1991-late 1992, carted an unbelievably huge archive with him in a truck…Nor do I really believe that 1993/1994 was sufficient time to create a ‘vast’ archive of artwork though I happily believe he kept everything he could and had a remarkable memory for his projects. Potentially it suggests Cobain kept quantities of material with relatives and friends which has subsequently been centralised into a single archive – again, I’d want to hear more detail substantiating and explaining that…

…Then again…The early cuts of Live! Tonight! Sold Out! were built from video tapes Cobain had in Los Angeles and subsequently in Seattle. He clearly was accumulating video footage of Nirvana – I presume Geffen were supporting and assisting in this and that any local TV footage was copied to Geffen/Cobain also. That would align with Krist Novoselic’s 2009 comment:


“There’s not going to be any new Nirvana records, what there is, is video. There’s a lot of video.” Novoselic also, apparently, spent the 1992 Australia tour with a brand new camcorder and is known to have taken one with him on earlier European tours. It suggests that someone, somewhere, was gathering all this material and it seems understandable that Brett would now have access to that.

The ‘200 hours’ of unreleased music and audio…That’s quite a lot of material…OK, rehearsals, home demos, copies of taped interviews, live recordings, radio broadcasts – and general mucking about with tape. Do I believe for a second that Brett has compared those tapes to what fans have been accumulating over the years and that it’s ‘unreleased’ compared to the bootleg archive? Nope. Do I believe he means compared to the stuff on official Geffen/Universal releases and archive projects for Nirvana? Sure. That’s a picky distinction but does hold down expectations here. 36 minutes is already Montage of Heck it would seem. After that the mind can run riot. Also, to return to Krist’s comment, we’re clearly looking at a lot of Cobain solo material versus a range of lo-fi Nirvana stuff. It sounds like the studio material has been truly scourged in the quest for anything worth releasing – heck, if the boombox demos could be released then it suggests there are no formal sessions left and little from the ‘late period’ (i.e., anytime 1991 onwards.) That would have implications in terms of sound quality and overall quality of what is contained with that blank number…

As for the 4,000 pages of writing…Don’t want to be too cynical – this sounds like an awesome film with heavy and deep research committed – but how are 4,000 pages of writing going to translate into a cinematic experience? And likewise, having read the Journals, what would another 4,000 pages of them reveal that wasn’t clear in the first volume a decade and a half ago? My feeling would be a lot of ‘nice to know not need to know’ – “oh, another draft of early lyrics for a song…How interesting…” I’m assuming cherry-picked lines from the writing will be used to add dialogue to the film, likewise that photos of particular pages will be used as click-bait in the media campaign, maybe down the line there’ll be a Journals II (This time…It’s Personal…) where those 4,000 pages might be better translated.

So, overall, cool news – expectations duly managed, questions I’m curious to understand the answers to and definitely sounds like a top class job being done by Mr. Morgen and all involved. Delighted. And lucky ol’ U.K…Cinema release? How nice!


4 thoughts on “Yup, Brett Morgen Kurt Cobain Biopic Due in 2015: Montage of Heck”

  1. I agree on the “Montage of Heck” plotting of putting the tape “out there” just recently, it’s a publicity stunt, BUT it did made me listen to it with a fresh pair of ears all of that madness.

    I think Charles Cross got to see a lot of Kurts stuff, but now that Frances Bean is on board, and (i think she’s in control of the state) Mr. Morgen will have access to everything. I think Kurt would have hated this last fact BUT I think he will make the best of it and i hope we get to see a lot of rare pictures, video, and so on.

    To comment on Krist statement, well…i dont believe him! From what I know there are tons of Nirvana audio that havent seen the light of day. To name a few: Song in D (from Nevermind sessions), the complete Rio Sessions, The last session in february ’94, the last basement demos with Pat and Erick…. I think he just does not want people over exited and speculating, therefore creating rumours and shit.

    Personally I think those “4000 pages of writting” could help paint a brighter and bigger picture of Cobain. There’s a lot more to the man than we know, of course that maybe could be breaching his personal and private space but I guess Frances now has her fathers “legacy” on her hands and hopefully she wont stain it….and hopefully Courtney has nothing to do with all of this.

    Greetings from the middle of the world!

    1. In regards to ‘Song In D’ ; it is almost certain that ‘Song In D’ does not exist as no one else has ever mentioned it apart from Butch Vig who whilst seems a great guy is prone to exaggeration or confusion in some of his recollections. It’s possible Butch heard an early version of All Apologies or means Old Age or Verse Chorus Verse but there’s no record of any lost song being called ‘Song In D’ anywhere. The only Nevermind studio outtake that hasn’t been released is the sound city version of ‘Sappy’.

  2. well…Theres plenty of stuff to speculate on.

    In regards to late recordings .Courtney has mentioned ‘songs’ such as The Son , Ivy League in the past among few other titles. But i doubt these were ‘songs’ as such. You have to wonder if they were say up to ‘Do Re Mi’ quality wouldn’t they have been released by now ?
    But Eric Erlandsen have said there was a few things from late on there is supposedly an electrc verison of ‘Do Re Mi’ for instance with think Pat and Eric. Think there was supposed to be Clash cover or something . Eric Erlandsen has hinted at a Beatles cover.

    I have no real doubt there’s quite a bit of unheard stuff like Kurt with Courtney etc but again of what quality ?
    More likely noodlings and jams rather than songs

    Its actually Kurt as a kid or teenager stuff more likely to feature . There was ‘Organised Confusion’ , there’s still Fecal Matter stuff that hasn’t been bootlegged.

    I doubt ‘Montage Of Heck’ was alone in mixtapes Kurt made. Theres probably a lot of stuff like that.

    There is good deal to speculate on still.

    Kurt did record stuff with Tobi Vail and Slim Moon and quite few other ppl thats never emerged. But we are talking boombox type of stuff either way.

    Totally looking forward to this film though. And actually equally looking forward to any art Kurt did featuring. Can remember think as an easter egg on the WTLO DVD some video footage of Kurt weird collage on floor that had stuff like Visible Man in and sort of looked like back cover of In Utero type of collage.

    As Nick says Krist has said theres a lot of video still not seen and quite few did have camcorders . Who knows how this documentary or even style of documentary this Brett Mrgen thing wiill end up as but he does have a decent track record in music film documentaries and he was given access to the Cobain vault (which yeh actually does exist!) over 7 years ago.

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