Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is a definitive exploration of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned hymn, “Hallelujah.” This feature-length documentary weaves together three creative strands: The songwriter and his times; the song’s dramatic journey from record label reject to chart-topping hit; and moving testimonies from major recording artists for whom “Hallelujah” has become a personal touchstone. Approved for production by Leonard Cohen just before his 80th birthday in 2014, the film accesses a wealth of never-before-seen archival materials from the Cohen Trust including Cohen’s personal notebooks, journals and photographs, performance footage and extremely rare audio recordings and interviews.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “This captivating documentary shows the origins and evolution of the iconic song “Hallelujah,” written by poet, author, singer/songwriter and musician Leonard Cohen. A song that transcends generations, ‘Hallelujah’ is more than music; it is a work of art and this film is an immersive exploration of this iconic song.” See her full review below.
Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
This captivating documentary shows the origins and evolution of the iconic song “Hallelujah,” written by poet, author, singer/songwriter and musician Leonard Cohen. A song that transcends generations, “Hallelujah” is more than music; it is a work of art and this film is an immersive exploration of this iconic song.
The documentary narrates how Cohen started his music career back in the ‘60’s. Disappointed by his lack of success in the literary world, Cohen decided to explore a career in music, despite not intending to sing or play an instrument. In fact, Cohen didn’t start writing songs until age 30. The narration in the film explores his early success in music and other aspects of his life, including his Jewish roots, politics, relationships and more. He was a spiritual seeker and his oeuvre constantly gravitated around spirituality. “Hallelujah,” his most renowned song, was released in 1984. The song is a moment of realization—a revelation—about love and loss, and it touches the listener in so many different ways. The song is so larger-than-life it’s almost its own person, and we see how it has become an anthem.
As of today, there are over 300 cover versions of “Hallelujah.” Originally 150-180 verses were written for “Hallelujah” until the perfect edition of the song was written. More popular versions have come from artists Eric Church, Jeff Buckley and John Cale. Through many different interviews, the documentary shows how most people know the song through Jeff Buckley and many thought he wrote it. It was really interesting to me to see how a lot of the film is devoted to Leonard’s spirituality. One of my favorite clips was the 2009 Coachella concert where Cohen sang “Hallelujah,” and you could really feel how moved and captivated the audience was. The visuals, the archived interviews and footage are all nicely arranged. I particularly enjoyed listening to the interviews with various artists, reporters and people that were close to Cohen and to witness the warmth that emanated from him. One I found very interesting was with Vicky Jenson, where she talks about how “Hallelujah” was used in the movie Shrek. Another washow singer Judy Collins remembers when she first met him how he didn’t believe in his own music. Cohen’s work was not always praised as some music labels rejected his albums, but his talent has proved to be immortal.
The message of the film is that music is cross-generational, and it establishes an emotional connection that unites people in a powerful way.
I give Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for audiences 12 to 18, plus adults. Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song opens in select theaters July 15, 2022
Keywords: Leonard Cohen, Various Positions, Hallelujah, John Cale, Jeff Buckley, Shrek, folk rock, John Lissauer, Dan Geller, Dayne Goldfine, anthem, Columbia records, joy, faith, religion, bible, Samson and Delilah, Rufus Wainwright, Allsion Crowe, holy ghost, poetry, Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page,