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Soul Music (1997) – DVD Review

soul music dvd cover


Written by: Terry Pratchett, based on his novel
Directed by: Jean Flynn
Starring: Christopher Lee, Debra Gillet, Andy Hockley


  1. Interview with Terry Pratchett
  2. Production sketchbook
  3. Pratchett, character, and cast biographies
  4. Discworld booklist

Released by: Acorn Media
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; presented in original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Rent It.

OK, let me start out and say I’m a huge Discworld fan. I’ve read all the books many times over and I have all the British editions because the cover art is lively and crowded and the American versions are minimalist crap. So when Widge said he had two Discworld animated stories, Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters, for review, I think my exact response was,”GIMME GIMME GIMME!”

[ad#longpost]When you live on a flat disc of a world on the backs of four giant elephants that are on the back on an enormous turtle swimming through space, things are going to be weird as a rule. For Susan Sto Helit, being able to turn invisible at will isn’t enough to cause a sensible girl like her much concern. Finding out your grandfather is Death (a seven foot skeleton with the expected dark cloak and scythe for handy slicing) and that he’s gone off on a holiday and you’re expected to take up The Duty does. Still, she reluctantly takes up the scythe of office and mounts Death’s pale horse, Binky. And everything goes OK until she runs into Imp y Celyn. You see, he’s one of those handsome, broody musician types that even sensible girls like Susan go slightly gaga for. He’s playing a mysterious guitar (or is it playing him) that produces strange sounds called Music with Rocks In. The music has a life of its own and will make him immortal, but he may have to die to obtain it. Does Susan listen to the song of her heart or does she keep with the harmony of the universe?

Soul Music is extremely faithful to the novel in this cartoon retelling. In addition, the songs that The Band with Rocks In sings manage to be send-ups and faithful recreations of the various styles rock-n-roll has been through. There may be a few bits from the book cut here and there, but most of that Pratchett goodness is included. Which is good because the animation is not that great. The concepts behind the look of the characters are decent, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The voices are respectable, Christopher Lee especially was the perfect choice for Death: urbane, polite, and somewhat weary. Debra Gillet also brings across Susan’s struggle to keep her down-to-earth nature with all the eldritch weirdness going on. I couldn’t find a single voice that didn’t fit with the characters in the story. The story may be a little confusing to someone new to the Disc, but trust me; it’s worth the trouble.

soul music death susan

The features do help the newcomer. Included are bios of the major characters and even a short describing the Disc in all its improbability. A list of the books gives the viewer an idea to where to start if he wants more of the Discworld. The Pratchett interview gives an interesting insight into how he develops his ideas and how an artist must let go of a work when it goes to a new medium, book to TV for example. I enjoyed this disc and Discworld veterans and those who have yet to explore this strange land will enjoy it too.

Soul Music DVD menu

Buy Stuff
  1. Click here to buy it from Amazon.
  2. Click here to buy the book from Amazon.
  3. Click here to buy Terry Pratchett stuff from Amazon.