John Debney talks The Passion of the Christ (2004)

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John Debney talks The Passion of the Christ (2004)

The Passion of the Christ (2004) is a film that is not easily forgotten once you’ve seen it. This was the first R-rated film I ever saw in theaters (the youth group I was in went to see it one weekend, we all had to get our parents to sign waivers since we were under 18) and it’s a film that physically impacted me for weeks afterward.

For those who haven’t seen it, The Passion of the Christ details the final twelve hours of the life of Jesus, from his arrest to his crucifixion (with a short epilogue on the day of his resurrection). The entire film is subtitled, with the primary languages being Aramaic, Hebrew and Latin (to make the story feel more authentic). The film was directed by Mel Gibson and was a huge hit upon release, although many criticized the extreme graphic violence in certain scenes (I personally have only been able to see this film three times since 2004).

The  score that accompanies this film was composed by John Debney (The Jungle Book) and it is widely regarded as a masterpiece of film music. In the extended video which you can reach via the link above, Debney (and Mel Gibson) discuss how various themes came together, primarily Satan’s theme and the theme for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Interestingly, instead of using a traditional ensemble, or using only instruments that might have been heard in ancient Jerusalem, Debney opted to use a more global sound (Satan’s theme, for instance, is created with a traditional Chinese instrument), as this is a story that Gibson wanted to be accessible to everyone.

The music for The Passion of the Christ really is beautiful, and I do recommend this film as well, but with one major caveat: if graphic violence disturbs you, do NOT watch this film. The torture segments (particularly the flogging scene) are very bloody, and could easily be traumatizing.

Have you seen The Passion of the Christ? What did you think of it, or the music? Let me know in the comments 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of John Debney, see here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

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2 thoughts on “John Debney talks The Passion of the Christ (2004)

  1. the Well-Red Mage

    I’m interested to read about the music for the Passion, considering a variety of other things generally dominate any discussion surrounding it. I’ve seen it a half dozen times and I’ve never been unmoved by it. As a Christian, it’s obviosly even more impactful to me but it’s a significant film in that it reached such a wide audience beyond Christianity. I think that’s one thing it did exceptionally well. The original Gospels themselves were written for a wide audience, not isolationists. Thanks for the read!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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