First, let me say, I love the music of Leonard Cohen. And that said, I feel the movie did not do his career justice. The title of the movie was “Hallelujah: A Journey, A Song” but it could have done a lot more “journey” and a little less “song” … well THAT song.
Yes, it’s an epic song. Yes, many musicians covered it. But did we have to spend two hours hearing EVERY SINGLE VERSION of “Hallelujah”? From legendary artists like Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley to acts on “The Voice” and “American Idol” … if you ever, in your lifetime as a musician, performed “Hallelujah” you were probably in this movie.
This type of film makes no sense. I’m a huge Queen fan, but I would not want to watch a film that’s almost three hours long hearing every band imaginable covering “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It’s just wrong.
Leonard Cohen was a great talent and influenced many artists, but he did have a ton of work to explore. One of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs is “So Long Marianne” and that was excluded. So was “Tower of Song” and anything else you can think of by Leonard Cohen, except “Hallelujah.”
In between all these versions of “Hallelujah” you got a documentary filled with “holes” which is a journalist term for “unanswered questions.” We learn a little bit about Cohen’s background and journey as a musician, and his vast body of work, and who he collaborated with, and how he toured right up until the end, making several albums right before his death. We also get a glimpse of his spiritual life and his quest. But it doesn’t dive too deep.
When you think of indie movies such as this, you must think of the audience. An audience who would go see such a film is not the average Joe who only knows “the hits” (like those who would go see the biopic movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”) A person who would see this film is someone who has a bit more depth to them than the masses.
The best parts of the movie were the snippets of interviews conducted by Rolling Stone magazine music journalist, Larry “Ratso” Sloman; personal stories shared by Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, John Cale, and photographer Dominique Issermann, who spent some time romantically with Cohen. And there are some clips of Cohen himself talking. It’s all too short though, a mere tease.
When my husband and I walked out of the theatre, we heard an elderly gentleman complaining to his wife that the movie could have been edited by at least 15 minutes. In my opinion, the entire movie EXCEPT for 15 minutes should have been edited, and then you’d have a pretty cool You Tube documentary short.
I’ve Googled “documentaries about Leonard Cohen” and there are other official films and You Tube documentaries which I plan to check out. One movie looks especially good, “Words of Love” about the relationship between Cohen and Marianne, the girl he wrote the song about.
True fans and music lovers always go the extra mile to explore what is out there. We don’t take anything at face value. And I certainly won’t take dozens of remakes of “Hallelujah” sitting down, as I did this afternoon in the movie theatre. No, I’m going the extra mile to explore more Cohen, because he’s an artist that deserves a fan who would like to know more.
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Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is the author of the following books:
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Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: https://eroticbooknetwork.com/product/love-cats/
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