Kurt Cobain was deeply suspicious of journalists, but he trusted Rolling Stone's Michael Azerrad enough to give him unprecedented access during the writing of the book Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Consisting enti... more »rely of Cobain's never-before-heard musings and recollections recorded by Azerrad and laid on top of newly shot footage of the places that he lived, Kurt Cobain: About A Son offers an intimate portrait of the rocker's troubled formative years and meteoric rise to stardom. The result is the story of one of rock's greatest icons as it's never been told before. DVD Bonus Features:
"It is hard to find a single figure that looms larger in recent rock history than Kurt Cobain. It's harder still to come across an artist whose true nature was so obscured, even distorted, by his own legend. About a Son, based on interviews with Come as You Are author Michael Azzerad, offers a rare, sincere, and deeply moving glimpse into Cobain's private world. In the process, it reveals a side of the late musician often left out of sensationalized media portrayals of his life, drug use, and tragic end--he is perceptive, thoughtful, and quietly articulate, reflecting on his experiences with a candor unmatched in other interviews.
What makes the film unusual among documentaries is director AJ Schnack's determination to stay out of the way and allow Cobain to tell his own story. Eschewing the typical documentary format in which the viewer's gaze is focused on the subject, About a Son creates the sense of looking out through Kurt's eyes, seeing the images he would have seen and hearing the music he listened to. There are no Nirvana songs--just the music that inspired and influenced Cobain--and the visuals are a montage of evocative images of Aberdeen, Olympia, and Seattle. Listening to Kurt's sleepy, gravelly narration (most of the interviews were conducted in the wee hours of the morning) against the backdrop of these images elicits the feeling of taking a long stroll and talking intimately with an old friend.
As you stroll through Washington streets slicked with rain, passing floating bundles of Aberdeen timber, punk rock Olympia kids, and the city lights of Seattle, Kurt talks about his parents' divorce, his lifelong sense of isolation, the unexpected consequences of fame, and his unabashed devotion to his wife and daughter. He tells of a life clearly fraught with pain and depression, yet fueled with creative passion. The personality he reveals is one of contradictions: the desire for recognition vs. the desire for solitude; deep concern for humanity vs. revulsion toward humanity's darker side; a harsh reality vs. a longing for the simplicity of childhood.
About a Son is as much a portrait of the Pacific Northwest as it is a rendering of Kurt Cobain. Alongside breathtaking cinematography, Cobain's narrative shows that many of these private contradictions were the product of a deep-seated ambivalence toward his environment. As a child, he was alternately comforted and stifled by small-town Aberdeen; as a budding artist, he was nurtured by Olympia's creativity, yet felt like an outsider; in his Seattle days, he helped place the city on the musical map while deriding media hype about the "grunge scene."
As the lone figure of Cobain fades at the film's end, one cannot help but feel the loss of an extraordinary artist--and an extraordinary individual--as he vanishes from sight. "
Finally a film about Nirvana that matters!
Eric Stiner | USA, NJ | 01/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Until now I don't think I have ever seen a film or piece of journalism that has accurately conveyed Cobain's impact on the world and the worlds affect on him. For most of my teenage years I admired Cobain's punk rock disdain for the press and interviews. But it made him a very mysterious figure. Some how this film maker got Kurt to sit down and speak candidly for hours about his life as it pertains to Nirvana. The cinematography is awesome. You can almost feel his ghost haunting each frame as Kurt's voice narrates the story of Nirvana. This film is really moving. If you own one film about Nirvanas visual history it should be this one."
It's like being with Kurt
Richard Alaska | Naperville, Illinois | 03/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was a moving experience; I took my son to see "About a Son" at an artsy theater in Chicago on his 15th birthday. Knowing we both enjoy Nirvana, I nonetheless braced myself for a grungy "sentimental journey." But then to our rapt enjoyment, this movie turned out NOT to be the typical "between the eyes" rockumentary crammed with repetitively familiar nostalgic imagery and dubbed in with music from the artist. In short this was not a nauseating musical rock video shrine. FYI - you don't see Kurt's or any band member's face. And you don't hear any music from Nirvana - and, you don't need to.
Instead, "About a Son" takes you through the Pacific Northwest, tastefully focusing on images that trace the words in Kurt's interview. I was very taken by the seamless "being there" feel of this film, as though the narration was in real-time with what was being shown visually.
All-in-all "About a Son" was highly-creative in combining fact with visual interpretation - and in doing so among the best "rockumentaries" I've watched. It is an interpretation of images, selected to match what Kurt was saying. You had a feel for him as a child and teen, his core family and the disintegration of it, for the deprivation he lived through, for the music he listened to, a discussion about babies and bottles, and some saddening foreshadowing of his suicide a year after the interview.
Would this movie stand on its own without knowledge and/or a fondness for Kurt Cobain and his music? Actually, I believe it would be interesting in and of itself - even if you had never known of Kurt - or never heard Nirvana's music. It is a warm yet subtle film about an interesting and likeable guy, whose immense creativity and drive sprang from humble and confining surroundings. Kurt would have liked "About a Son" for not being banal and obvious. The power is in its simplicity.
I just bought the DVD and I'm anxiously looking forward to another viewing on a smaller screen. Oh - also an interesting soundtrack works wonders without incorporating Nirvana's songs. My son and I waited to listen to Nirvana on the way home."
Good, but gets a little boring
Colin Hassett | Nashua,NH USA | 03/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"in this movie is just a video of seattle and aberdeen and olympia, which is where kurt lived and grew up, but even though there is an interview with him it does get boring just watching those areas for 2- 3 hours. but i would recommend it."
Like listening to an audio commentary from beyond the grave.
Cubist | United States | 02/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Since Kurt Cobain's death in 1994, many books have been written about him and his band Nirvana that try to get the real story about the musician and reluctant rock star. Arguably, the best book about him is Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana by Michael Azerrad. He was able to get close to Cobain and gain his confidence, recording hours of audio interviews with the man on a wide variety of topics.
Director A.J. Schnack has taken these audio-taped conversations and assembled an unorthodox documentary on Cobain entitled About a Son that eschews the usual formula of footage of concerts and talking head soundbites from friends and family for footage of the cities he grew up and lived in: Aberdeen, Olympia, and Seattle.
At times, Cobain mentions a band or a song that influenced him and then it plays over the soundtrack which goes against the trend of populating the documentary with Nirvana songs. It's not surprising that Cobain comes across as a very thoughtful commentator about himself and life in general. The audio tapes allow Cobain's disembodied voice to narrate his own story. After awhile, however, watching About a Son is like listening to an audio commentary from beyond the grave.
"The Voices Behind About a Son" features Azerrad talking about how he conducted his interviews with Cobain, how he first met him, and so on. Schnack talks about he met Azerrad and pitched the idea of the film to him. Azerrad had resisted using his Cobain tapes in other projects for years but felt that this one was appropriate.
There is a selected scene commentary by director A.J. Schnack. He talks about some of the locations that they shot for the film and their specific connections to Cobain. For example, they were able to shoot in the house where the interviews with him were conducted.
Finally, there is "On Location: Scouting Video to Scene Comparison" that takes a look at the differences between the location scouting footage and photographs and the final version in the film."