Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song

A film by Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine. In English with German subtitles.

[Credits] [Tickets & Termine] [Trailer]

When Leonard Cohen retur­ned after a five-year hia­tus with the 1984 album “Various Positions”, Columbia Records boss Walter Yetnikoff did not even want to release it. A foo­lish mis­judgment when you con­si­der that it con­tai­ned one of Cohen’s most per­so­nal and influ­en­ti­al songs in the form of “Hallelujah”. The LP’s small initi­al run was one of the rea­sons why the song is not always attri­bu­t­ed to Cohen, but rather to Jeff Buckley, based on his sen­si­ti­ve cover.
The docu­men­ta­ry begins as a bio­gra­phi­cal search for clues that uses a sin­gle song to out­line the Canadian poet and singer’s lifel­ong search for trans­cen­dence. “Hallelujah” is the right choice for this, becau­se Cohen used the song not only to explo­re his rela­ti­ons­hip to his Jewish roots, but also to allu­de to ephe­me­ral lon­gings. He also rew­ro­te it several times, adding ver­ses about past love affairs and sexu­al reve­la­ti­ons. However, no song and no cul­tu­ral expres­si­on can escape inter­pre­ta­ti­on.
In the second part of the film, Geller and Goldfine exp­lain how the song chan­ged in stran­ge ways as more and more per­for­mers cove­r­ed it – John Cale and Rufus Wainwright (for SHREK) are just two of them. Once a hymn to the incom­pa­ti­bi­li­ty of search and ful­fill­ment, the song was reli­gious­ly sim­pli­fied, flat­te­ned, and beca­me a wed­ding hit. (Dominik Kamalzadeh)


USA 2021 116 MIn., engl. OmU
Regie & Buch: Daniel Geller, Dayna Goldfine
Kamera: Dan Geller
Schnitt: Dayna Goldfine, Bill Weber, Dan Geller

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