"That movie pretty much defined my whole personality. It was really cool. Total anarchy." Kurt Cobain (Come As You Are, Michael Azzerrad)
As with the underground music which he loved, Kurt Cobain also shared his favourite film with an outsider audience. Almost all of them saw the mid-'70s Over The Edge on cable TV -- since it was banned from movie theatres. Distributors blamed its sex, drugs, firearms and violent ending. Yet it held an eerie prophecy. It proffered the perfect portrait of Teen Spirit to come. And, in fact, Over the Edge was based on reality: its inspiration was a California headline. ("Mouse Packs: Kids On A Crime Spree" in the San Francisco Examiner). The "spree" took place in a brand-new, planned community -- where things had been planned for everyone except kids.
Tim Hunter researched and co-wrote Over the Edge. Ten years later, he also directed River's Edge. Here, he speculates about why both films roused strong feelings in youngsters like Cobain.
"The real story took place in a town called Foster City, which was this bedroom suburb outside San Francisco. My friend Charlie Haas, who was a journalist, had reported it. We then spent two years on the screenplay."Really, Hunter confesses, 'Over the Edge' took three years to finish. During that time, the pair went "over and over" to Foster City. They spoke with kids, parents, counsellors and cops.
"Finally things distilled into a fairly formulaic plot, something which was actually pretty simple. I then got Jonathan Kaplan to direct it: he and I had grown up together for thirty years. Jonathan loved the script; he really wanted to do it."
"These were portraits of kids who are disenfranchised. Who can't articulate things. Who don't have the background or the education or family security. That's even more widespread in US life today...this whole new kind of underclass has mushroomed. And kids in their teens and twenties, they're very much part of it."On the basis of the many kids he actually spoke with, Hunter feels that there are numerous reasons for lives to turn out like Kurt Cobain's.
"You get these working-class communities which have drifted into disrepair. Or you get new these tract-home and mall communities. Kids there have no sense at all of themselves in the world. None of them has a sense of well...God knows what: culture, morality. Anything like that."And, says the writer and director, this is not the only problem.
"There's no common purpose. Everything just devolves into media or merchandising. And the merchandising's vicious. It pits kids against each other. So you get this situation where the kids feel hollow. They really DON'T see what life could be for them. Or how they might become part of any larger society. They have no sense that there is larger society. Yet here's the media, bombarding all of us with 'options' and information. So you get the illusion that it all exists."Page 2