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Film / Last Days

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Rock and roll will never die.

Last Days is a 2005 experimental drama film directed by Gus Van Sant that's very loosely inspired by the suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. It marks the final installment of the director's Death Trilogy, which previously consisted of Gerry and Elephant.

The film follows Cobain expy Blake (Michael Pitt), an introverted musician slowly losing his grip on life. He spends most of his time taking long walks in the woods, isolating himself from his bandmates, and creating his own songs. With so much baggage on his mind, Blake knows that there is only one option to escape the pain and he has to find the right moment to seek it out.

This is the debut feature from Picturehouse, a joint venture between New Line Cinema and HBO (who also produced the film) created to release art-house and independent fare.


The film provides examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: There are moments where the film goes back in time to give clarity on a certain event. This is often done by repeating the same shot from before and either extending it or cutting it short.
  • Anachronism Stew: Minor example but early on, Blake watches the music video to Boyz II Men's "On Bended Knee". In real life, the song was released months after Cobain's suicide.
  • The Cameo: Blake's friend at the rock club is played by Harmony Korine.
  • Driven to Suicide: Given the real-life inspiration, this is a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Foreshadowing: Early in the film, a pair of LDS missionaries shares a message about Joseph Smith's First Vision to the band. The concept of listening to voices seems to be implicated when Blake ends his life at the greenhouse.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Done quite frequently. At one point, Blake falls down outside the house and the camera simply turns to stare at a part of the forest for quite some time.
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  • Loners Are Freaks: Blake has some unusual quirks, like wearing a dress and pretending to shoot his friends while they're asleep.
  • Minimalism: There is no real story here, just a simple chronicle of a rock-and-roll star's final moments.
  • Shout-Out: Scott informs Luke that the detective is not a walker, Texas ranger.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The movie opens and closes with Janequin's "La Guerre" as performed by The King's Singers. The cherry, triumphant piece contrasts with Blake's deterioration and death.
  • Suddenly Shouting: After making a bonfire for himself, Blake mumbles "Home on the Range" before yelling the chorus.
  • The Oner: There are multiple, uninterrupted shots as per usual for a Van Sant film. The most prominent example has to be the long dolly shot of Blake messing with the instruments from outside the window. The process was so complicated it took the crew up to twelve times to do a successful run.
  • The Unintelligible: Blake tends to mumble a lot and it's really hard to make out what he's saying.
  • The Un-Reveal: We are not given a clear reason as to why Blake takes his own life. His method of doing this is also left ambiguous.