DVD Review: Soul Music (from Terry Pratchett's Discworld Collection)
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Distributor: Acorn Media
· Jean Flynn
· Christopher Lee
· Andy Hockley
· Debra Gillett
· Graham Crowden
· Bryan Pringle
· IMDb: Soul Music
by R.J. Carter
Published: October 7, 2008
It's a known fact that the world is flat. Fortunately, it is quite ably supported on the back of four giant elephants, who are all standing astride the back of the Great Atuin, a giant tortoise ten thousand miles across who swims through space toward an unknown destination.
I'm sorry -- did you think I meant this world was flat? No, I'm referring to the Discworld, a place where wizards hold sway at the great Unseen University, you can't be a musician, thief, or assassin without being a member of the appropriate guild, and Death rides a white horse. (The horse's name is Binky, if you must know.)
"Soul Music" is but one of the adventures that take place on Terry Pratchett's wickedly delightful satire series. In it, a young druid named Imp y Celyn (Andy Hockley) leaves his family and rain-soaked meadows behind to pursue a life of music. When his harp is accidentally broken shortly after meeting Lias (a rock troll) and Glod (a gnome), he chances upon an old curiosity shop full of broken instruments (the kind of shop that is there one day then gone the next), he purchases an instrument called a 'guitar.' One strum of the instrument, and Imp is transformed into a musical genius, creating a sound the likes of which has never been heard before in all the Disc. He changes his name to Buddy -- Imp y Celyn apparently translates loosely to "Bud of the Holly" -- forms "The Band with Rocks In" with Glod and Lias (who also changes his name to Cliff), and proceeds to cheat death as the Musicians Guild goes after him for not acceding to their dues, fees, and subscriptions.
Cheating death is easier than it used to be these days on the Disc. Death's adopted daughter and her husband recently died in a fiery chariot crash, and Death (voiced by Christopher Lee) has gone on holiday to try to find a way to forget -- ways that include joining the Foreign Legion and imbibing great amounts of alcohol. Taking over his duties for him is his sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Susan (Debra Gillett), who is taken by surprise at her heritage. She's also quite taken with Buddy, and doesn't think it's fair that he should die at this stage of his life.
"Soul Music" is filled with musical references, puns, and inside jokes. Buddy, with his coal-black forelocks, often must tell people he's a druid when they imply that he looks "Elvish." After playing a rousing concert in one town, the mayor of the city tells them that the town is only known for making cheeses, some of which are very popular cheeses. Buddy's reply, "We're more popular than cheese is," will likely go over the head of anyone under thirty who won't recall the infamous John Lennon words.
The only downside at all to this disc is that it presents the story episodically, just as it appeared in the United Kingdom. Which means that at the beginning of each chapter, you get the quick recap of all the chapters that preceded it. Further, the disc menu does not have a "Play All" functionality, so you must return to the episode list menu after each episode has played, which gets annoying.
Bonuses on this disc include a thirty minute interview with author Terry Pratchett about the Discworld in general and "Soul Music" in specific. There's also an animated "Welcome to the Discworld" pilot, storyboards, a text biography of Pratchett, text synopses of the dramatis personae, and an index of other Discworld novels.
The humor of "Soul Music" isn't quite as Python-esque as that found in "Wyrd Sisters," but it's also probably more accessible to an American audience by that same token. "Soul Music" is part of a two-disc boxed set, with "Wyrd Sisters," selling under the collective title, "Terry Pratchett's Discworld Collection."