Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Kurt Cobain About a Son

On February 20th, Kurt Cobain would have been 41 years old. 41 years old--it boggles the mind. It's almost as inconceivable to imagine the grunge icon, spokesman of Generation X, as a middle-aged man as it is to accept his untimely death 14 years ago at age 27.

To coincide with the anniversary of his birth, on February 19th Shout Factory is releasing Kurt Cobain About a Son, the acclaimed documentary about Nirvana's elusive and enigmatic frontman.

Using excerpts from over 25 hours of interviews recorded by journalist Michael Azerrad for his book Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, the voice of Kurt Cobain provides not the backdrop for the film, but the backbone. This is not your typical musician biopic with interviews and performance, but Cobain himself speaking about the things that influenced his journey as a human being and his development as a musician.

Illuminating the candid and intimate ramblings, directer AJ Schnack captures images of the places that Cobain lived and worked. Aberdeen, Olympia and Seattle, Washington are giving starring roles in the film--showing the influences that shaped Cobain, helping to formulate his philosophy of life and inspiring his music. The visual imagery combined with a soundtrack featuring Cobain's musical influences--which range from Creedence Clearwater Revival and Queen to Mudhoney and the Melvins--gives us a glimpse into Cobain's mind, heart, soul, life.

It was quite eye-opening to hear Cobain speaking with refreshingly honesty about all aspects of his life--from his damaged childhood to his adult drug use. He saw himself as a child of divorce and felt empathy for all the other kids of his generation who grew up in broken homes. At the same time, he considered himself a part of the last generation to grow up in a far simpler, safer--Sesame Street--time. Amazing and eerily prescience since Cobain died 7 years before 9/11. Although many have demonized his wife, Courtney Love, and even blamed her for his death, Cobain speaks quite tenderly about her and conveys the belief that they were kindred spirits.

Schnack deliberately avoid including images or performance footage of Cobain and/or Nirvana--until the last moments of the film. According to Schnack, this was one of the main themes of the film--the presence AND the absence of Kurt Cobain:

"I wanted to create a film that would show all sides of Kurt: his humor, his anger, his fear, his compassion, his sadness, his love, his paranoia and his clear-eyed assessment of the world around him. I wanted to give an audience the opportunity to sit with him, to really take him in. I wanted them to forget for a moment that the conversation they were listening to was more than a decade old and the the voice they were hearing was now silent."
14 years ago at only age 27. Hard to believe...

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