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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Nirvana death inspires new film
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News entertainment reporter in Cannes

Gus Van Sant with actor Michael Pitt
Gus Van Sant with actor Michael Pitt on the Last Days set
A film inspired by the final days of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain gets its world premiere at Cannes on Friday.

Last Days, by former Palme d'Or winning director Gus Van Sant, portrays the inner turmoil that engulfs a troubled musician in the final days of his life.

While Van Sant has admitted the film is inspired by Cobain and the Seattle music scene of the time, he has pointed out that it is still a work of fiction.

But parallels between Cobain and main character Blake are there to be seen.

From the messy blond hair of actor Michael Pitt to suggestions that his character has spent time in drug re-hab - the main character is a Cobain-like figure.

Moreover, the film is set in 1994 - the year Cobain shot himself.


Last Days marks a return to Cannes for Van Sant, who won both the Palme d'Or and best director award at the festival in 2003 for Elephant.

The 52-year-old American says his last three films - the other being 2002's Gerry - are connected, in that they were all inspired by stories of death that made the newspapers.

Gus Van Sant
Van Sant won the Palme d'Or in 2003 for Elephant
"Elephant was a way to look at the wave of school shootings, like Columbine, that happened in America in the late 1990s. And Last Days came out of the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994," he said.

"When Cobain died, there was real intense fascination with his last days from seemingly the entire world.

"It is one of those suicides, like Hunter S Thompson's or Elliott Smith's - it's always affecting."

Van Sant says he used newspaper stories of Cobain's death and his own imagination to construct Blake's story.

It is up against 20 other films for the prestigious Palme d'Or in a competition that features many leading auteurs.

Other films vying for the prize include David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, and Don't Come Knocking by German director Wim Wenders.

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