‘Don Verdean’ is the new film from Jared Hess, who brought us gems such as ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ and ‘Nacho Libre’. Despite the critical success of his previous features, this time around, this tale of a Biblical Archaeologist being hired by a small-town pastor to find sacred relics in the Holy Land hasn’t quite struck a chord.
That’s not to say that there aren’t good things about the film and the critics are quite often wrong, with films becoming cult classics in later years. However, in this case we’re more interested in the soundtrack and not the film as a whole and there is, based on my perception of the tone of the film, much to like here.
They have clearly aimed for an American evangelical angle, rather than a more traditional Christian musical heritage here, combined with an Indiana Jones/National Treasure adventure theme, to reflect the archaeologist sections.
The soundtrack has been composed by Ilan Eshkeri (Shaun The Sheep, Still Alice) for the adventure style cues, and by the Heavy Young Heathens (Punk’d, Yoga Hosers) for the rest.
The Ilan Eshkeri material has been done specifically to mimic establishing scores of various locations and has been deliberately given a slightly cheesy air, in a musical ‘central casting’ manner, but is very effective. Strangely it reminded me of a cross between the music in Homeland and the UK’s Primeval.
The other cues are a mixture of songs created in various styles, but with predominately an 80s sound. ‘Body Rhythm’ for instance is clearly a pastiche of Berlin’s ‘Take my Breath Away’ and ‘Crazy Life’ one of Motley Crue’s ‘Wild Side’. There are also songs with a straight country style and 80’s synth pop.
Giving more a sense of the film is an intriguing song, sung by Leslie Bibb, which obviously appears in the film. Entitiled ‘Pillar of Salt’ and with deliberately corny lyrics and backed by church organ playing more pop chords than you’d get in an old hymn, it has a good dig at the modern infomercial nature of some dubious religious characters.
Overall, I can see this working well in the film and does make me want to see it, critics be damned!