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Lonesome Hallelujah

Last night the BBC in their infinite wisdom decided to show the film Shrek, which in my opinion improved Saturday night viewing at least a thousand fold.  I am not convinced it subverts the fairy tale, after all boy & girl meet, boy & girl fall in love, misunderstanding messes things up, misunderstanding is resolved and couple marry and live happily ever after.  Nonetheless, it is fun to watch and in places quite powerful.

I always find the scene where images of Shrek and Fiona are interspersed alongside the song Lonesome Hallelujah quite moving, and yesterday realised that it's the music rather than the story/images that effects this.

I looked up the lyrics - in Shrek's form and the orignal Leonard Cohen form (there seem to be a few differences) and was immediately struck by the Biblical threads that run through them.  Granted, Cohen (who has a Jewish background and is now a Buddhist) elides David & Bathsheba with Samson & Delilah, but I was really struck by the idea of a 'lonesome hallelujah.'  It seemed - seems - a very profound phrase that echoes aspects of the psalms and indeed other aspects of the God-story in the Bible....

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away - blessed be the name of the Lord

A lonesome Hallelujah


Even if I walk through a valley as dark as death, You are with me

A lonesome Hallelujah


If you had been here, my brother would not have died, yet even now...

A lonesome Hallelujah


My God, my God why have you forsaken me... into your hands I commend my spirit

A lonesome Hallelujah


Hallelujah Hallelujah.


More about Cohen's life and music can be found at places like Wikepdia, the full lyrics of the song are widely available on line.  Life can be tough: isolation, loneliness, failure, regret can all be part of our experience, yet we still have a choice, 'to curse God and die' or, if only through gritted teeth, to offer our own 'Lonesome Hallelujah.'

It's an odd song to include in what is essentially a children's film, but it has certainly given me something to think about.

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