Corner Brook’s Allison Crowe dives deep into her contribution to Zack Snyder’s Hollywood Blockbuster Justice League, a collaboration nearly 15 years in the making
Predestination is the idea that someone or something is destined to occur, guided to a particular place or purpose. Through hell or high water, written in the stars as it were.
That type of flowery thinking works well in daytime soaps and Hollywood blockbusters, but every now and then the real world and the stranger than fiction collide.
‘I love it here’
Enter Allison Crowe, a BC born and raised career artist and musician who has called Newfoundland and Labrador and Corner Brook home since the mid-2000s. It is here our story begins.
“Long story short, I moved here for a relationship that didn’t quite work out, but I stayed and a whole bunch of other stuff worked out,” Crowe laughs in a one-on-one with The Herald. “So I love it here. I love it here.”
From day one, Crowe dove head-on into her home-away-from-home here on Canada’s east coast, fully embracing the flavour, folklore and culture of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Crowe would become a popular fixture of the west coast’s music and arts community, inevitably becoming Musical Director of for Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s Newfoundland Vinyl at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival in 2012.
“The music is what struck me first,” Crowe said of her gradual immersion in Newfoundland.
“I just sort of picked it up over the years. So I think sort of subconsciously that has made its way into my own music. I learned to play the fiddle, the bodhran, tin whistle and all that stuff.
“The first year of Newfoundland Vinyl was 2012,” she adds of her growing profile in the local theatre industry.
“I didn’t grow up with that music like a lot of people I know did. So for me, every year is a new discovery of old music, of music from the 50s, 60s and 70s out of Newfoundland. But my favourite thing about the music is the stories told from community to community and the way in which they’re told. It may be the same story, but it may change like a game of telephone as the story gets told.”
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A grassroots movement
Fast forward to the winter of 2021, and Crowe has found herself at the heart of perhaps the biggest grassroots film movement in cinematic history.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (aka the Snyder Cut) began as something as innocuous as a director’s cut destined to be forever lost on some cutting room floor.
Willed into reality by the fans who were burned by a studio-tampered, ham-fisted finished product in 2017, and buoyed by the real-life tragedy surrounding Snyder’s exit from the production before completion, and the nearly four-and-a-half-hour superhero-centered opus hit streaming services worldwide in March of this year.
The response, needless to say, was overwhelming, with Crowe’s haunting cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah – played in full during the credits no less – serving as the bookend for the entire saga.
“I’ve been really embraced by this whole community of fans of Zack Snyder and DC and all this stuff just in the past few weeks since I’ve been able to talk about it,” Crowe said of the whirlwind surrounding the single and film’s release.
“It’s sort of beautiful to watch because the focus, I think, and what the fans really fought for was to get the art made the way that Zack intended it. That doesn’t happen a whole lot,” she adds.
“They (Zack and Debbie Snyder) really believe in the stories. And I think Zack really believes in the stories. And just from knowing him, he really cares about things and he really cares about art. As someone who is a musician that works with him, I can tell you I feel as though I have complete artistic agency when I’m doing something with Zack.”
Crowe’s relationship with the husband and wife team dates back to the dawn and infancy of YouTube, where the pair caught a glimpse of Crowe’s moving cover of Cohen’s iconic classic through happenstance.
What started as a curiosity evolved into a friendship, with Snyder determined to use Crowe’s take on Hallelujah in one of his feature-lengths. And while Crowe herself would appear in Snyder’s blockbuster Man of Steel in 2013, it would take nearly 15 years for the genesis of the idea to come full circle.
“Zack just kept trying to put me in movies, which is so amazing, because it is really just from a video that was up on YouTube,” Crowe laughs.
“The fact that Zack and Debbie just sort of came across it on YouTube is kind of amazing, but then they just kept trying to put me in movies until he physically put me in a movie. And now, gosh, I think it’s about a month and a half ago, I got a call from Zack that they were going to be using (Hallelujah) in the end credits and we had the discussion. Do we use the original or do we sort of come full circle and do a new version?”
‘Pretty wild experience’
Crowe would take to the Rotary Arts Centre in Corner Brook with her friend and frequent collaborator Adam Thistle to re-tool Hallelujah for Snyder’s Justice League. The end result would be poignant, haunting, and hit extremely close to home.
“I just sat there sort of like in a ball, just crying, like this is so surreal,” Crowe said upon seeing the finished product and hearing her voice on screen.
“I feel just hearing something on that scale, I was like, did one of my friends mute it and just play my album over it or something and then like the real credits would be revealed? It’s a pretty wild experience.”
The single itself holds immense weight and significance to the Snyder’s. Hallelujah was the favourite song of Zack and Debbie’s daughter Autumn, who tragically took her own life in March of 2017, leading to both Zack and Debbie (the film’s producer) vacating the project. The film, and song, were dedicated to Autumn’s memory.
“That’s what means the most,” Crowe said emotionally. “You know, as a musician, personally, I do this in a form of communication and healing. And for me music is really healing. I think as an artist, as a musician, as a performer, and often I feel this way live, if I can help someone out in a time that’s really, really just unimaginably difficult, I think that’s sort of part of what I do. So it means everything that it could bring at least some sort of comfort in that really devastating time.”
For Crowe, coming full circle with her collaboration with one of Hollywood’s most sought-after kings of the blockbuster, the future, and her passion and artistry, are as limitless as that of the heroes of the silver screen.
“This feels like a continuation maybe more than a full new start, but like a continuation of something that sort of started in a really interesting, very online way a long time ago,” Crowe shared reflectively.
“It gives me almost nostalgic feelings of back in the day of fans gathering together to just make something beautiful happen, just on a much larger scale.”