Brett Morgen Imagines a Kurt Cobain Documentry Next

February 21, 2008
Source: Collider

Kurt Cobain

The opening film from Sundance last year was Brett Morgen's Chicago 10, a "mixed media" documentary about the anti-war protest during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Although it wasn't anything amazing, it was a very interesting and exciting attempt at exploring that incident in history. Morgen caught up with Collider recently and talked about his next documentary project - another mixed media film, this time about Nirvana frontrunner Kurt Cobain. Given how well received Control was, Morgen could certainly pull off a pretty awesome documentary as well.

Brett MorgenUp-and-coming filmmaker Brett Morgen (pictured right) explains that "Courtney Love sort of sanctioned" him to make the film about the deceased legendary musician and it may end up being his next project, although he's got a narrative feature that he's trying to get made as well. While he's hoping to start work on this in the next few months, because there's so much to it, it could end up taking 3 or 4 years to complete.

Morgan attempts to describes the idea, in a very weird way, by saying "it's going to be like this 3 dimensional visceral sort of sublime movie." What exactly does that mean? Well, thankfully Morgen dives head-first into a full on explanation of the concept and idea, and it actually sounds very promising. First off, Morgen does confirm that he did get the rights from Courtney Love, Cobain's now widowed wife, to use his music and artifacts in the film.

"It's all of Kurt's artifacts and archives and journals and yeah we'll have the music of course but the… his home movies. He did stop action animation, which I don't know if anyone's ever seen but I saw it and it's fucking great. I mean it was crude and I'm gonna probably refine it…"

"We're going to make a film as if Kurt Cobain was making his autobiography and so and one of the things about using animation in it is that at first I was like oh, man, it was the worst time for archival films because from like '83 to '92 video sucked. People were shooting 3/4 then they were using these nasty 8mm handy cams, so all the grunge videos like whenever you see videos from grunge bands they always look like shit so I was like oh god, you know I'm sort of a fetishist with film and whatnot."

He goes on to say that, like in Chicago 10, they'll using animation, rotoscoping, and audio overlayed on top. In that film, Morgen presented a very interesting look at the court trials of the protesters by animating scenes and overlaying the actual audio that was recorded from the court room. For those confused, that explains what "mixed media" means, as he is implementing animation and rotoscoping in addition to real life footage and more.

"Ultimately I think the goal for that film is to make sort of a Catcher on the Rye for the next decade? The reason Kurt still resonates all over the world—you go anywhere all over this planet and you'll find kids who have Kurt tattooed on their arms. It's because he spoke—he was able to articulate his experiences as an alienated, disenfranchised kid and that's why I think his music is still relevant today and resonates all over the world and I think we have to make the film that's in every one of those kid's heads that represents them."

"You gotta do something different and new and add something to the cannon of work and so I think what this film will do is really get inside Kurt's head and sort of see the world from the inside out. I mean one of the things I think with all my movies, if I won the lottery last night you know, one day I'd love to open up a theme park like Disneyland with rides based on all my movies because I think that like when I did The Kid Stays in The Picture, to me it was like the Disneyland ride about Bob Evans."

Despite that incredibly odd Disneyland reference, Morgen's idea not only sounds like an incredibly unique vision, but something that will resonate with Cobain and Nirvana fans young and old. With interest in musical documentaries really pick up recently, primarily with Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light documentary on the Rolling Stones and his follow-up on Bob Marley, I think everyone is realizing how entertaining these films can turn out. It might not be a few years until we actually see Morgen's doc on Kurt Cobain, but when we finally do see it, I'm certain it will be something to behold.

Find more posts: Movie News



It's still worth noting that Courtney Love is a total wench, usually at odds with Grohl and Novoselic, and definitely not going along with anything that doesn't pay her a lot of money for her husband's legacy. I understand Brett might be fascinated with the topic, but this is a big disaster waiting to happen. Not to mention Kurt Cobain would never have wanted a movie like this made.

Devon Shaw on Feb 21, 2008


Anything remotely close to a hollywood rendition (i.e. Ray, Walk the Line) of Kurt's legacy would be outright blasphemy. Needless to say, as much of a Nirvana fanboy that I am, I'd love to see something.....eventually. Let's not rush into a sub-par product.

Nthngmn on Feb 21, 2008


#2, this is definitely not even close to a Hollywood rendition like you mention, that's why I'm partial to the idea that Morgen has more than anything else. It's not a sub-par product at all, and if you read, he said it would take 3 or 4 years to put together. There's no rushing there, it's obvious Morgen will take his time to craft something incredible.

Alex Billington on Feb 22, 2008

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