Since a bit of footage from Kurt Cobain: About a Son hit the Web, there’s been a lot of speculation about the movie, due in October. So we got the scoop straight from the film’s co-producer, Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana author Michael Azerrad, who first met Cobain to interview him for a Rolling Stone cover story.
You’ll hear only one voice in About a Son — Cobain’s — and there’s no footage of Nirvana or even Kurt himself in the film, which Azerrad reiterated isn’t a documentary but a retelling of Cobain’s life in his own words. “It was more about bringing him into the realm of a three-dimensional human being, not the cartoon rock icon,” says Azerrad, who drew from a bank of more than twenty-five hours of previously unheard audio tape for the project, which was directed by AJ Shnack. “It’s not a look back at Kurt, it’s a look into Kurt.”
The visuals are comprised of award-winning cinematography shot on 35 mm film of the three Washington cities in which the rocker lived throughout his life: Aberdeen, Olympia and Seattle. One final image of Cobain shows up at the end of the film, but Azerrad declined to reveal it (“It’s like giving away the end of Harry Potter”). There’s no Nirvana music on the soundtrack, either. Instead, the film is set to an emotional original score by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and a collection of Cobain’s favorite artists including Queen, David Bowie, Mudhoney and Iggy Pop (the soundtrack will get a September 11 release on Barsuk).
“We haven’t really heard him speak at length, so just to hear his voice is such a tremendous insight into his personality,” says Azerrad, who adds that many people have left screenings in tears. Cobain drops a lot of hints about his impending suicide in the tapes, but Azerrad says he probably chose not to believe it when the pair were spending hours together talking candidly. “You’re so close, or it’s just so improbable, that you just sort of ignore it,” he says. “So, if there’s a practical lesson in the film it’s that — listen to him speak, he was telling people what he was going to do.”