After reading “Hallelujah!: Transformation in Film” by Jessica H. Howard, I was most interested in Howard’s discussion of how the film uses a capella singing and the transition from speech to song to crate a sense of natural transition. Howard writes that “the film’s reliance upon a capella singing…enhances the primary relationship of singer to song, and folk to folk expression, and yields the accompanying spontaneity this implies” (442). A capella is one way that music is made to seem naturally incorporated into the film, and the “transitions throughout Halllelujah! between narrative and number are progressive and seamless…particularly regarding those numbers which come through the transformation of speech into song” (444). These numbers often occur when Zeke is discussing religion, with the music mirroring Zeke’s own transformation.
This article gave me more insight into how the film accomplished Zeke’s religious transformation and how the transformational numbers themselves work. One of the scenes that really stood out to me was the scene after his brother’s death. In that scene, Zeke goes from speaking about his grief and guilt to a mix of chanting and singing, with the natural seeming musical progression corresponding to Zeke’s own religious transformation. The a capella singing and gradual transition into singing makes Zeke’s behavior seem naturally spontaneous and his transformation itself feel more real.
This article also made we wonder how other musicals have used a capella, and I found this article about a modern musical done entirely with just a capella singing. I would be really interested to see if this musical or other musicals with just moments of a capella use it to achieve a similar effect as Hallelujah!