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Last Days In The Desert by Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans (Review)

posted May 5, 2016, 3:51 PM by Kaya Savas

Last Days In The Desert is a film about Jesus Christ and his 40 days of fasting and praying in the desert while he engages with the devil and resists temptation as he struggles over the fate of his family. Composing duo Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans provide the sparse string-based score that tries to capture the barebones nature of Jesus wandering alone searching for answers.

The score is essentially just strings and some percussion when it’s needed. The score is extremely sparse and small, and it strangely works for the most part as this contemplative accompaniment to Jesus’ soul-searching. I’m rather glad that the music didn’t try to be a “period piece” as well, which means no distinct cultural instrumentation. The music feels strangely improvised, in a good way. Almost like a quartet just sat in front of the screen and scored the movie live to picture. With all this being said though, in the end there does seem to be an emotional detachment. Musically, the score almost felt like an experimental intellectual commentary instead of a fleshed out narrative score, and that’s probably why it ultimately doesn’t succeed on many levels.

Last Days In The Desert is an artsy take on a biblical story. It sports amazing cinematography by Emmanuelle Lubezki and a controlled vision from director Rodrigo García. I wish the score wasn’t as floaty and overtly unstructured as it is, but the barebones nature of it strangely gives it a unique feel. It’s great as a companion to the story being told here, but as a score it does little to flesh out the narrative.