Zodi et Téhu, Frères du Désert


" But the overall score is vivid and rich in colours "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the download only release

Zodi et Téhu, Frères du Désert (Princes of the Desert, 2023) is a French adventure/family/comedy film directed by Éric Barbier. The plot is as follows: Zodi, a young nomad of 12, discovers an orphaned baby camel in the desert. He takes it in, feeds it, names it Téhu, and becomes its best friend. Zodi learns from a veterinarian, Julia, that Téhu is an exceptional runner and can bring in a lot of money for his tribe. But the qualities of his young camel make Tarek, the local poacher, envious. To avoid Téhu being sold, Zodi decides to run away and cross the Sahara. On this journey, Zodi confronts Tarek, survives a sandstorm, and crosses the salt sea with the ultimate goal of entering Téhu in the world's largest camel race in Abu Dhabi. With Julia's help, Zodi will strive to make his dream come true, make Téhu a champion, and save his tribe.

The Lebanese/American/British singer/songwriter Mika (Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr.) follows in the footsteps of memorable collaborations of composer Renaud Barbier with his brother Éric directing.

On his debut as a film composer, he apparently worked for two years on the music for the film, a mix of orchestral and traditional Berber influences. In his survey, he called in the help of musicologists, which does show in the end result. He uses many characteristics of Berber music, the rhythms, scales, patterns, instruments and much more, but it isn't entirely clear why he made some decisions he made, considering the wide definition of Berber music. In places, some African rhythms and chants, amongst things, are overtly predictable. But given the family-friendly quality of the film, and also the westernised view of orchestral and 'traditional' elements coming together in the score – a little too smooth – it is justifiable for whatever reason.

For the score, he worked with 130+ musicians and while writing the score, created three songs, which are all very uninteresting. But the overall score is vivid and rich in colours; adventurous, curiously playful, and poignant at times. Besides the Berber influences (the beautiful voice in the opening track and everything else), several intimate themes and the playful, flailing woodwinds, attractive rhythms and overall flourishing orchestral music stand out the most. The grander scale cues, even the music to the camel race near the end of the film, are of less interest.

Regardless of everything being said, the most impressive is that this is the score debut of the singer/songwriter, taking into account, he received a lot of help in crafting nearly 70 minutes of music. The music was released digitally by Virgin Records.

1. The Beginning 3:41
2. Early in the Morning 4:19
3. Tehu's Theme 3:23
4. The Butterfly and the Miracle 2:49
5. Two Hearts Beat Together 2:01
6. A New Friend, a New Home 0:53
7. Two Friends with a Plan 3:39
8. Facing the Storm 3:54
9. Calm After the Storm 0:56
10. Issouf Saves Zodi 2:25
11. Salt Sea 2:24
12. Danger on the Road 2:36
13. Tehu's Return Home to the Village 1:38
14. The Boy and the Camel in the Night 4:57
15. Feels Like Fire (Orchestral Version) 3:49
16. Farewell Tehu 2:22 sensitive
17. Final Race 3:12 brass
18. Feels Like Fire (Nomfundo Moh) 3:14
19. No Time to Leave 2:30

Total Album Time: 54:42

(click to rate this score)  
(total of 3 votes - average 4.17/5)

Released by

Virgin Records (download only release 2023)