Kurt & Courtney
|Kurt & Courtney|
|Directed by||Nick Broomfield|
|Produced by||Nick Broomfield|
|Written by||Nick Broomfield|
|Narrated by||Nick Broomfield|
|Music by||David Bergeaud
|Edited by||Mark Atkins
|Distributed by||Capitol Films|
The documentary begins as an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Cobain's death and the theories which sprung up afterwards. Cobain was legally declared to have committed suicide but has been alleged by some who worked on the case, to have been murdered, in some allegations at Courtney Love's instigation.
As Broomfield investigates the claims surrounding Cobain's death, his emphasis moves from the murder theories and onto an investigation of Love herself, including an accusation that she supports the suppression of free speech, and her fame after Cobain's death.
The film was due to play the Sundance Film Festival but Love threatened to sue the festival's organizers if they screened the film. Broomfield removed all of Nirvana's music and replaced it with music from bands mainly from the Seattle area. However, when shown on the BBC, the film contained Nirvana's 1991 performance of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from Top of the Pops.
While the initial focus of the film was to explore the possible murder of Cobain, Courtney Love's refusal to license any of Cobain's music and her unwillingness to speak on camera was used by Broomfield as evidence of her censorship of free speech.
Because of Love's refusal to license Nirvana's music for the project, Nick Broomfield was forced to use various other bands from the Pacific Northwest. Notable amongst these were Zeke, the Dwarves, Rozz Rezabek and the Theater of Sheep, and Earth.
The film begins with a recap of Cobain's death and the media coverage which followed. Broomfield then interviews Cobain's aunt Mari who helped his love for music when he was a child. This interview is followed up with several from friends and schoolteachers who knew Cobain when he was growing up before moving onto Cobain's relationship with Courtney Love.
After establishing the background the film moves on to detail the accusations that Cobain was murdered. Broomfield interviews Tom Grant, a private investigator who has alleged that Love may have conspired to kill her husband, and wants the case re-opened by the Seattle Police Department. Grant was hired by Love, but thinks it was just so people would believe that she was innocent. Hank Harrison, Courtney Love's father, is interviewed, and states he also believes that Cobain may have been killed in a conspiracy organised by Love. He has written two books about Cobain's death.
The film also includes interviews with Portland drug culture celeb and former stripper, Amy Squier, about her explicit and personal knowledge of Kurt and Courtney's heroin use, and an interview with punk singer and media sideshow El Duce (real name Eldon Wayne Hoke), who claimed that Love offered him $50,000 to kill Cobain. El Duce claimed in the film that he knew who killed Cobain, but said he would "let the FBI catch him." Two days after that interview was filmed, El Duce was killed when he was hit by a train.
The film also includes an interview with musician and friend of Cobain's Dylan Carlson, who had bought the shotgun that Cobain eventually used to kill himself.
Broomfield eventually moves away from the alleged conspiracy and the film turns into an investigation of Courtney Love's alleged suppression of free speech. Included in the film are phone calls from MTV saying that they were pulling out of financing the film (which was completed thanks to financing from private investors and the BBC), due to presumed pressure from Love.
There is also an interview with journalist Victoria Clarke (who wrote the book Nirvana: Flower Sniffin', Kitty Pettin', Baby Kissin' Corporate Rock Whores with Britt Collins) about how Love and Cobain had threatened her while doing research for her book on Cobain and Nirvana. Broomfield includes clips in the film of the threats made by Cobain and Clarke details the story of Love assaulting her.
The film concludes with Broomfield taking the stage at an ACLU meeting (where Love is a guest speaker) to publicly question Love about her attempts to suppress free speech and the irony of her representing the ACLU. He is pulled from the stage by Danny Goldberg, Cobain's former manager.
Riding a wave of controversy, Kurt & Courtney opened in one North American theatre on 27 February 1998, where it grossed $16,835 in its opening weekend. The film's final $668,228 gross was respectable considering the film's limited release (only 12 theatres at its widest point), independent distribution, documentary nature, and mixed reviews.
- Soaked in Bleach (2014 docudrama on the same subject)
- "'Kurt and Courtney' now showing despite Love's efforts." CNN. 13 April 1998.
- Kurt & Courtney at Box Office Mojo