“Hallelujah” is his nice anthem of spiritual ecstasy and sexual longing. Some variations emphasize the sacred, whereas others dwell on what one other poet known as “the expense of spirit in a waste of shame.” “All I’ve ever learned from love/Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you”: Some singers omit that line (and the one about being tied to a kitchen chair), however even when transcendence appears to prevail over cynicism, the strain between sacred need and profane disappointment stays.
The documentary’s account of the music’s destiny, indebted to Alan Light’s guide “The Holy or the Broken,” is an enchanting research within the mechanics and metaphysics of pop-culture reminiscence. Bob Dylan, who admired Cohen, added “Hallelujah” to a few of his set lists within the late ’80s. John Cale’s cowl, recorded for a 1991 tribute album, introduced the music to wider consideration.
“From Cale to Buckley to Shrek” is Sloman’s synopsis. Jeff Buckley’s full-throated rendition injected “Hallelujah” into the ’90s pop mainstream. “Shrek,” the DreamWorks animated blockbuster a couple of lovelorn inexperienced ogre, repurposed Cale’s glum model. The soundtrack album, which offered tens of millions of copies, included one other one, extra within the melodramatic Buckley mode, by Rufus Wainwright. The floodgates had been open.
“It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth.” By the hundredth time, you may assume the magic could be gone, however “Hallelujah” is a kind of uncommon songs that survives its banalization with at the very least a few of its sublimity intact.
Cohen lived to see its triumph, and the final third of the documentary is devoted to his comeback, together with beneficiant clips from his later live shows. He is, all through, a vivid, sophisticated presence — witty, melancholy, well-dressed and soft-spoken. By the top, he radiates knowledge, gratitude, and the form of achievement whose elusiveness had all the time been his nice topic.
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song
Rated PG-13: She tied you to a kitchen chair. Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes. In theaters.