Passion of the Christ

Passion of the Christ

4.5 16
by John Debney

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The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's controversial telling of the final hours of Jesus' life, is so graphically brutal that many moviegoers may not take notice of the film's score at all. But there surely is a score, and it's a testament to the talents of composer John Debney (Elf, Bruce Almighty) that his music skillfully underpins the film's…  See more details below


The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's controversial telling of the final hours of Jesus' life, is so graphically brutal that many moviegoers may not take notice of the film's score at all. But there surely is a score, and it's a testament to the talents of composer John Debney (Elf, Bruce Almighty) that his music skillfully underpins the film's dramatic grip without becoming a distraction from the compelling story. Debney rightly realized that for a story of such searing intensity, an equally forceful score would be (pardon the term) overkill, yet his atmospheric and evocative music admirably stands on its own. He makes use of only a few elements, recombining them in continual variation and to beautiful effect: Haunting drones, exotic flutes and reeds, wordless vocal cries, beating drums, and soaring strings feature in track after track of ethereal, entrancing music. Of course, there are moments of great power, too, particularly as the film draws near its tragic conclusion. "The Crucifixion" begins with low strings and builds to a grand orchestral climax that flows into an ardent hymn-like theme. Likewise, "Raising the Cross" combines deep, throbbing drums with a wordless chorus accented by distant vocal cries, while piercing calls from an otherworldly horn punctuate "Jesus Is Carried Down." "Resurrection" presents an opportunity for musical word-painting, and appropriately, an upward-climbing theme in the strings and voices joins with pulsating drums at this culminating point in the tale. It's a potent moment on a soundtrack that drives home the enduring story of The Passion of the Christ with subtlety, eloquence, and beauty.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The test of the mettle of any original soundtrack, particularly where an original score is present, is whether that music stands on its own apart from the film that inspired it. Composer and multi-instrumentalist John Debney's score for Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ is such an offering. It succeeds as a coherent, moving, well-executed musical statement whether or not one has seen the film. Nearly 55 minutes in length, it seamlessly flows from beginning to end, creating aurally panoramic soundscapes and textural vistas with masterful employment of percussion, folk instruments from many traditions, and Eastern-tinged harmonics. Solo and choral voices encounter the tension of an outside narrative, resolve, and even transcend it. The music here is not visionary, however, and that is not necessarily a criticism. It owes a great debt to Peter Gabriel's truly visionary soundtrack/score to Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. Gabriel, of course, made liberal use of Near Eastern scalar inventions as well as traditional melodies and harmonies that were not his own. But he combined them with startling sound effects and masterful pairings of seemingly disparate talents, coming up with something out of time and space. It was inevitable given his own path as a musician obsessed with the music of the world enough to found a label to showcase it. Debney has seemingly followed a similar path; his use of Indian master violinist and vocalist L. Shankar (who was also featured prominently on Gabriel's Passion) and singer/double-violinist Gingger Shankar is evidence in and of itself, and his reliance on the earlier score for notions of pace, dynamic, and color are problematic if one is looking merely for originality. But Debney could not help but make use of Gabriel's score (though he should have at least thanked him in the credits) -- it is far too influential and far-reaching not to -- any more than Gabriel could help making use of the folk musics of antiquity for his. Debney's deft appropriation of classical strategies from the early 20th century and his wonderfully taut choral elements that shape-shift across history from Gregorian chant and Eastern Orthodox Byzantine liturgies as well as the operatic requiem masses of Mozart, Verdi, and John Rutter are also stellar choices not merely for the effect of movement and emphasis, but also have a profoundly meditative quality to them. Debney also furthers the use of the aboriginal tropes first introduced by Gabriel in that he fully integrates them into his Anglo and Celtic maxims. Debney's core is a haunted work, one that resonates with conviction, devotion, and taste. The seemingly dissonant strains are there to provide the authenticity and universality of the human voice as it beholds and meditates upon the subjects in his serial segments. It is a stunner, one that will offer those who choose to encounter it a far-reaching and deeply affective listening experience that is as aesthetically beautiful and unsettling as it is evocatively familiar. Highly recommended.
Entertainment Weekly - Scott Paulin
With it's chiefly meditative tone, Debney's music may even strike some listeners as more spiritually genuine than the brutality it ameliorates on screen. (B)

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Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

John Debney   Primary Artist,Vocals
Mel Gibson   Vocals,Chant
Lakshminarayana Shankar   Vocals,Double Violin
Ron Allen   Flute
Pedro Eustache   Woodwind
Karen Hua-Qi Han   Erhu
Nick Ingman   Conductor
Martin Tillman   Electric Cello
Gavyn Wright   Concert Master
London Voices   Choir, Chorus
Lévon Minassian   Duduk
Chris Bleth   Woodwind,Duduk
Aaron Martin   Vocals
Ahmed el-Asmer   Vocals
Jan Hendrickse   Bamboo Flute
Gingger   Vocals,Double Violin
Shannon Kingsbury   Vocals
Naser Mousa   Oud
Terry Edwards   Choir Director

Technical Credits

Mel Gibson   Producer
Isobel Griffiths   Choir Contractor
Jack Lenz   Composer
Shawn Murphy   Score Mixer
Lakshminarayana Shankar   Composer
Mike Watts   Orchestration
Simon Rhodes   Engineer,Orchestration
Brad Dechter   Orchestration
Wolfgang Amadeus   Engineer,Scoring Engineer
Frank Bennett   Orchestration
Jeff Atmajian   Orchestration
Peter Afterman   Executive Producer,Soundtrack Executive Producer
John Debney   Composer,Producer,Score Consultant
Dan Savant   Contributor
Lisbeth Scott   Composer,Lyricist,Vocal Coach
Aaron Martin   Score Consultant
Jake Jackson   Engineer,Pro-Tools
Bruce Davey   Executive Producer,Soundtrack Executive Producer
Traditional   Composer
Michael Bazzi   translation
Father Bill Fulco   translation
Stephen McEveety   Executive Producer,Soundtrack Executive Producer
Lola Debney   Score Consultant
Gingger Shankar   Composer

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was spell bound! Got something to drink and did not even drink it. Some of the time I had to cover my face it was so brutal. But I will Go and see this PASSIONATE account of christ last days on earth again. We all need to know in detail what JESUS went thru for our sins. THANK YOU FOR THE PASSION!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie changed my life. This movie shows how much jesus went through for us. The day after I saw the movie i went and bought a rossary, that i now wear around my neck every day. Please watch the movie, it's the most Powerful movie you will ever see.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie yesterday. I then went home only to go out and buy the soundtrack. I was entranced throughout the whole movie from the plot and the music. These scores are mysterious, powerful and absolutely gorgeous. Debney... wonderful job.
Guest More than 1 year ago
yes, its brutal but it sends out a very powerful message and the score matched the scene perfectly. It was brilliant!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I went to see the movie yesterday and left me feeling with a sense of thoughtfulness. The music is so powerful and so reflective. I truly love love this CD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie last night and WOW! That is the most powerful movie I have ever seen and ever will see. It really meant a lot to me and the music was great in it. I think music is encredibly important to a film and Debney did and awesome job. WOW WOW WOW!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! These clips from the movie The Passion of Christ move me! Spiritually and emotionally! Great
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I finished watching the movie, I realized that no other movie will ever be as perfect as this movie. It is both excellent and touching.The music that Debney added made the movie even better. Great job Mel Gibson and Debney!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The music catches you off guard when The Passion of the Christ finally comes on. Whereas you expect music more along the lines of Mozart, Bach, and Handel, the unique fusion of Near Eastern music, operatic vocals, and upbeat rhythms are really quite a good fit. The music is unforgettable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This collection accurately portrays the life of Jesus Christ through music. You will not be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great movie, powerhouse score. This is an instant classic. You must own it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film touched me in a way I can't describe, in a way I've never felt in a cinematic experience. I was thrilled to get a copy of the original soundtrack. John Debney has outdone himself and established himself as a master contemporary scorewriter with his ethnic, exotic, poignant and powerful score to The Passion of the Christ. His effective use of choral arrangement, pounding drums, plaintive strings and ethnic Middle Easter instrumentation is nothing short of remarkable. Get this soundtrack, if not just as an intensely moving companion piece and reminder of the film, but as a thrilling piece of modern classical music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found the movie to be so moving and I felt that people hated on Mel Gibson because he took such a huge risk. But his risk produced a beautiful movie and I believe that the soundtrack accompanies it perfectly. The music itself tells the story of Jesus.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Debney's score composition for The Passion of the Christ is a riveting score of epic proportions, complementing perfectly one of the most powerful and penetrating films of all time! John Debney has superbly rendered the musical side of the film, greatly expressing the power of the film, the power of Calvary's cross. The score also expresses the cultural atmosphere of that most momentous time in history by incorporating sounds of the time and Middle Eastern music. The Passion of the Christ score soundtrack is an album that I highly applaud and recommend. It will always have a special place in my music collection. 5 stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I muchly enjoyed the experience of listening to this moving soundtrack! With a traditional backbone of pipes and flutes along with a twist of new age instrumentals and voices, this cd is a sure winner and bound to impress all ears... Haunting yet moving in all its entirety.