Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah In Zack Snyder's Watchmen – Bizarre, Sublime, Nuked The Fridge?


More Bipolarity

In response to the emails about yesterday’s post, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah – Mood Music For Watchmen SuperHeroic Sex Scene, I am offering a few more opinions about the use of Cohen’s Hallelujah as the musical setting for a sex scene between two of the superheroes, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II. (Update: See also Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah As Watchmen Sex Scene Soundtrack – Debate Continues)

First, check out James W. Rockwell’s open letter to Zack Snyder at Who Watches the Director of Watchmen?

Dear Mr. Snyder,

Thank you for doing an overall great job with Watchmen. The movie nearly felt as epic as the graphic novel, and the overall themes of human nature, paranoia of a Cold War nuclear holocaust, and the insane psychology of vigilantism remained markedly faithful to Alan Moore’s book.

Also, thanks for almost ruining the whole fucking movie with, quite possibly, the absolute worst choice for music accompanying a sex scene that has ever been made. Sure, forcing in Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower with a shoehorn during the Antarctic crash can be forgiven. Even closing it out with a My Chemical Romance cover of anything can be overlooked. But Hallelujah? Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah? Really? Whatever the hell it was that you guys were smoking during post-production, I want some.

Seriously, what the hell was that about? What, you couldn’t get the rights to The Final Countdown by Europe for your sex scene? You couldn’t get Whip It by Devo? Jesus, if you wanted to keep the 80’s theme and make it hilarious to the point of being unwatchable, you could have just gone with I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner. Why didn’t you just go with Is This Love by Whitesnake? How could Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen have possibly made any sense to you for that scene? I think I’d rather watch people having sex to Eye of the Tiger, for fuck’s sake. Could you have chosen a song that was less appropriate? What is wrong with you?

James W. Rockwell
P.S. – Berlin? Take My Breath Away? Funnier, and would have been more fitting.
P.P.S. – (sigh)…Leonard Cohen? What the hell?
P.P.P.S. -
I can’t believe that this still bothers me.
Subtle, eh?


For an opposing point of view, we have Album A Day: Watchmen (Music From The Motion Picture)

And then there’s the music. I already blogged about what a terrific soundtrack this is, but in the context of the film, it works infinitely better. All of the music is chronologically accurate, with Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Jimi Hendrix providing the non-scored music for Watchmen’s alternate timeline. And I have to give Zack Snyder and composer Tyler Bates credit for one huge moment. I’ve in the past declared that film and TV need to put a moratorium on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as background music, as its use had become so horribly cliche that doing so can ruin an otherwise poignant scene. Bates and Snyder have taken the stigma that has come with this song, bent it over and taken it for a ride. Literally. With one 3 minute scene, I will never be able to hear “Hallelujah” the same way ever again.


Adrian du Plessis1 offers an interesting observation about a subgroup of the population that may be less divided in their opinons:

What I discovered tonight, at least so far as I’ve looked on YouTube, specifically the first three or four pages of posts to this Leonard Cohen vid – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJTiXoMCppw – the folks on YouTube, in this thread at least, seem considerably less polarized than those in the general media/blogosphere. The majority enjoyed the song/scene – perhaps it’s a generational thing and these are the kids of today, those who not squeamish, and appreciate sex. violence and irony. I dunno…

This is the video:

I’ve pulled some representative selections from those  YouTube comments:

Thats what got me hooked to the song, I love this song, matter of fact that was the only good thing out of that boring long, worthless film, that and Zych Snyder’s amazing quality skillful professional directing, other than that forget that trash.

Sex is one aspect of the song, but it is in the greater context of love.

The song is written about sexual intercourse. Good lord why do people thing this is a religious song? It mentions god, and hallelujah isn’t solely a religious term, it’s a term to express happiness.

Haven’t listened to the song closely yet. But it appears to be about lovers making a spiritual connection. Which is exactly what was taking place in “that scene.” It was fine for a lovemaking scene in a movie.

omfg this scene in watchmen is amazing(as is the rest of the movie). I’m pretty sure my eyes were having an orgasm

OMg I work at the theater and all the ushers sing is this song. I effin love it.

This song worked great in the scene. It didn’t feel out of place. “Jeff Buckley described his own rendition of the song as an homage to “the hallelujah of the orgasm”

I really thought the music choice was AMAZING! It’s definitely not what I would go for, but it some just clicks! Amazing piece of work, really.

agreed. Watchmen was about as perfect a movie adaptation as can be made and had great use of music. this song and “two riders were riders were approaching and the wind began to howl” from Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” timed to when Night Owl & Rorschach approach in Antarctica rocked.

Watchmen had arguably some of the best use of vocal songs in a movie ever

I have to be honest. I hadn’t heard this song before the movie. It’s a very erotic song, though. And its placement in the movie made a lot of sense. It was fine in the movie, and added to the scene.


Bonus: One More Critique Plus “Nuked The Fridge”

The Critique:

The music was jarringly and excruciatingly terrible. It was as if a high school student using iTunes was put in charge of soundtrack and scoring. For example, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen has officially nuked the fridge. ~ Capn, Blasphemes

The “Nuked The Fridge” Reference:
I may well be the last person – even in northern Illinois – to stumble across this phrase, but just in case there is one other reader as naive as me, I’ve included a definition and background as well as an explanatory video.

This will be on the final exam.

Nuked the Fridge – Urban Dictionary “Nuking the fridge” refers to the moment in a film series when it becomes apparent that a certain installment is not as good as previous installments, due to ridiculous or low quality storylines, events, or characters. Originating from the film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” Harrison Ford’s character survives a nuclear detonation by getting into a lead-lined fridge before being blown thousands of feet only to crash back down and emerge safely. The absurdity in this occurrence is that, although lead is radiation proof, lead melts at 620°F and is not resistant to the millions of degrees, that say, an atomic bomb would put out. This is the prime example of the lower quality and outlandishness disgorged as a continuation of the series, and thus the phrase was coined. The saying is also a reference to the phrase “jump the shark,” referring to an episode of Happy Days where the Fonz jumped a shark on water skis, considered the lowest point of the show. “Jumping the shark” is applied to a television series alternatively to film. “Star Wars really nuked the fridge when Jar Jar Binks was introduced.” “Indiana Jones 4 nuked the fridge when they nuked the fridge.”

Indiana Jones and The Nuked Fridge

  1. Adrian is Allison Crowe’s manager. An email exchange between Adrian and me about Hallelujah’s role in Watchmen led to yesterday’s post. []

0 responses to “Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah In Zack Snyder's Watchmen – Bizarre, Sublime, Nuked The Fridge?

  1. Director Zack Snyder gives the clearest explanation of the Watchmen’s Hallelujah song choice and placement I’ve found – in this exchange:

    Crave Online: “What about the Leonard Cohen song?”

    Zack Snyder: “There are two Leonard Cohen’s because there is a Leonard Cohen on the end titles as well. Hallelujah, that love scene, I originally had the Allison Crowe version of that song, a version I’ve always loved, but in the end was just too romantic. Everybody thought that I meant it. They thought the love scene was serious, not that it isn’t serious but her version was too sexy. So I was like yeah, I’ve got to go back to the Leonard Cohen. For me it is incredibly ironic, even with that version of the song it is incredibly ironic. I don’t care what version of Hallelujah is on, that love scene it is ridiculous, but in a great way. With Leonard Cohen it is like you can’t miss it now, can you? I’m sure some people will but that is fine.”


  2. I loved Hallelujah’s use in The Watchmen. It was perfectly placed, and no other version would’ve fit better. The use of such great romantic, intimate song, in such an ironic way was spot on- as the camera pans around and focuses on Nite Owl’s ass, and burst out laughing, here you have a slightly overweight, awkward, and nerdy having sex with a very attractive bombshell, and rather than focus on the very sexy aspects, they use the same techniques to focus on the anti-sexy aspects- the slow, unattractive thrusts of the afore mentioned nerd’s ass, and a deep, soulful love song. Perfect, Mr. Snyder, you nailed it.

  3. Well there was a time when you let me know
    What’s really going on below
    But now you never show that to me do you?
    And remember when I moved in you?
    And the holy dove was moving too
    And every breath we drew was Hallelujah


    Its very appropriate, I don’t understand why religious folks are getting so upset.