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Comments about the soundtrack for The Passion of the Christ (John Debney)
John Debney battled Satan during filming

Giovanni Pinuellas

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John Debney battled Satan during filming   Monday, April 5, 2004 (8:14 p.m.) 

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. John Debney is used to writing movie scores for comedies like "Liar, Liar" and "Bruce Almighty," but he admits that composing the score for Mel Gibson's powerful movie "The Passion of the Christ" was the most difficult assignment of his life.
For it turned out to be a battle between good and evil that he had never experienced before in some 20 years in Hollywood.

"I don't think I will ever be given the opportunity to write again for a movie as powerful as this one," he said during a recent media interview in Beverly Hills.

"I was stretched every which way but loose," Debney said. "I was stretched by Mel Gibson. I was stretched by the Guy Upstairs and also I was stretched by the guy downstairs. What it did was completely strengthen my faith and I have realized something very interesting. I had never before subscribed to the idea that maybe Satan is a real person, but I can attest that he was in my room a lot and I know that he hit everyone on this production."

Debney said that the battle he felt with Satan as he wrote the music became "really personal between us."

He went on to say, "I had all these computers and synthesizers in my studio and the hard drives would go down and the digital picture that lives on the computer with the music would just freeze on his [Satan's] face. Then the volume would go to ten and it would happen all the time.

"The first time it happened, it scared me," Debney said. "Once I got over the initial shock of that, I learned to work around it and learned to reboot the computers and so I would start talking to him.

"There was one day when I had been on the movie for about four months when it really became bad that day and a lot of things that were causing doubt in me and I had had enough. The computers froze for about the tenth time that day and it was about nine o'clock at night and so I got really mad, and I told Satan to manifest himself and I said, 'Let's go out into the parking lot and let's go.' It was a sea change in me. I knew that this was war. I am not a physical person, but I was really angry on this occasion.

"I am up on the second floor, and on the bottom floor of my building there are therapists, and they see patients until midnight, and their windows are right at the parking lot, and I was coming down the stairs, and I had had it. I had booted everything down and saved it and I was walking down the stairs and I was verbalizing and saying to Satan, 'Manifest yourself right now.' As I am walking out and saying, 'Come on, let's go now,' I looked over and I could see someone looking at me and I realized how silly I must have looked. He didn't manifest himself, but I wished he would have. It changed for me after that."

God works in mysterious ways

John Debney explained that he was first brought into the movie by Stephen McEveety, a producer on the movie.

"The way God works is very mysterious," he said. "This gentleman is a life-long friend who happens to work for Mel Gibson and Icon and he and I grew up on the same street together in Glendale, California."

This resulted in Debney writing some special music for the movie and Gibson then came over to his office to listen to it. The next thing he knew, he was hired to write the score.

"If you were to draw up a list of composers who would have been perfect for this movie, I don't think I would be on it," he said. "It is a complete miracle that I became involved with the project and every day the thing that got me through was my faith prayer which was, 'Lord, if you want me to make it to the finish line, then help me make it to the finish line.'

"That was my journey. I started working with Mel Gibson and I found him to be incredibly intense," he said. "He's incredibly demanding but he was also incredibly collaborative.

When asked him what it was like to watch the horrendous suffering of Christ day after day, he replied, "It was very difficult and I can describe the process that I went through. I had to at times divorce myself from the visuals at times. You can imagine, day in, day out, you are watching this incredibly powerful journey that Christ went through, it was very difficult for me and I was able to get past it and realize that it was a movie; that really wasn't Him there although the movie was very powerful and beautiful and a wonderful representation of Him, so that kicked in and it was an intellectual process, although it would obviously still get the best of me from time to time.

"For instance, I would be working on a certain scene, like when Mary flashes back to the baby Jesus falling down, and I would see it 20 times, and then I would see if for the 21st time I would just start to weep because it is so elusive, the power of this film. That was way I would get through it. It was difficult; it was uplifting. I would sit there and try and write a piece of music on Jesus being hammered to the cross. So there has to be a little bit of a disconnect. I had to distance myself enough and trust that He would tell me what to do and everyone on the music say that day in and day out, it was extremely difficult.

"I would imagine that we all worked as hard as we ever could. We were all exhausted as we could ever be, but oddest thing was as exhausted and physically drained that I was, I never got tired. I would be exhausted and yet I would find myself in my studio at midnight.

"My studio is a lovely room and I have a work station with my keyboard. I write everything at a keyboard now. Technology has got so far in the last few years that I sit at the computer and realize the score. And what I mean by that is that I wrote and I orchestrate at the same time. So that when Mel Gibson comes and sits in the room, he will hear a piece of music that is fully orchestrated; it's synthesized orchestrated. He'll hear the obo, and then the clarinet and the strings, and so literally, I am composing note for note; instrument for instrument."

"So I have the screen in front of me with the visuals and then I have the speakers and computer screens that have all my synthesizer information on it. So my virtual orchestra is in a box and I just pick my instruments.

"What I was trying to do with the music was to write first of all the best that I could write and try to be true to the period, so I tried to utilize instruments from the period so there are a lot of ancient instruments in the music. In the bigger picture, I gave it all up to the Lord and whatever came out. I didn't have a lot to do with the writing of this music. I have done a lot of music, but literally things would just come out.

"I was tested. I once said to Mel, 'With every lash that Christ felt, I was feeling those lashes in my own way.' I was sorely tested."

He then talked about doubt.

"What happened with this movie was that I started to doubt myself," he said. "Mel started to doubt me, and there was a lot of it going around. You can imagine how important this film was to Mel and God bless him for having the courage to do it. But during my working with him musically, he would say things to me like, "It's really good, but I want it to be great.' And I had been up days."

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Giovanni Pinuellas
Re: John Debney battled Satan during filming   Tuesday, April 6, 2004 (12:26 a.m.) 

It's a powerful interview. A lot of people have felt challenged or attacked by forces they cannot control. It would be scary and aggrevating. Debney challenged it and he won.

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Giovanni Pinuellas

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Re: John Debney battled Satan during filming   Friday, April 9, 2004 (9:45 a.m.) 

Uh...John...I've been faced by this "Satan" too. It's called the Windows operating system. Satan comes shrink wrapped with every copy!

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Re: John Debney battled Satan during filming   Friday, April 9, 2004 (1:29 p.m.) 

> Uh...John...I've been faced by this "Satan" too. It's called the
> Windows operating system. Satan comes shrink wrapped with every copy!

Funny. But who says he was using Windows? A lot of composers use Linux because of its stability.

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Giovanni Pinuellas
Re: John Debney battled Satan during filming   Tuesday, April 27, 2004 (6:41 a.m.) 

John Debney battled Satan during filming.
Hmm, why that ?
John Debney told : "it was a really personal war between us".
What could be Satans interests in this war ? Why should he do that ?
Was he afraid to loose all the Souls forever only because of a soundtrack composed by John D. ?

I wonder if Debney battled Crusty the Clown, when he was writing for "Bruce Almighty" ? Someone should ask Howard Shore, if he battled Sauron while writing the Tracks for LotR. Or Maybe James Horner was fighting against King George, when he wrote for Glory.
But at least this one is true : Britney Spears battled the human intelligence while she wrote : "She's so lucky, she's a star. But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart"

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Giovanni Pinuellas
Re: John Debney battled Satan during filming   Thursday, October 28, 2004 (8:07 a.m.) 

I believe...that there is a place where the peaceful souls with spend eternity with my God and my Lord Jesus Christ, and then there are the restless souls are who are forever being tortured by the weight of their sins in hell.
I see visions of those who are in Heaven. They will be forever without pity, forever without pain, and forever without sadness. Then there are those in hell, who will never again feel love and happiness. All they feel now is their unimaginable pain of being burned alive in a boiling lake of lava. Their screams are ear-piercing, unnerving, and blood-curdling, as they frantically fight each other to climb out of the pit and even climb onto others, pushing others down underneath the lava in a frantic effort to get out of the pit, but
it's to no avail. There are full-grown men---the size of professional wrestlers---who cry hysterically as they are being terrorized by demons who have their way with them, such as bending them over and sexually degrading and brutally raping them over and over and over again. And then there are those such as men adn women who are being slammed onto tables like huge slabs of meat, while demons gut them open like fishes with their hands and then devour their organs and entrails like chunks of meat and speghetti, and none of these souls in hell will ever die from the unimaginable pain for one reason and one reason
only---they are already dead. And there are other visions I see that are much wowrse than these, but I won't mention them in an effort to avoid making anyone sick to their stomach.
These visions are the reason why I'm no longer into witchcraft.
I'm now a lone soldier in this spiritual battleground, who's gone A.W.O.L from the side of satan, I've fled my post and crossed the desert to search for the Lord and I've found him.
So yes---I do believe that John Debney battled satan and I can sympathy with him, considering the fact that I'm now going through the same thing, considering the book that I'm now currently writing.
It's my first one and so far, I'm months behind because of the bullcrap of the devil---but so far, I've written about six pages already.
As long as I tell myself to trust in God and Jesus, the devil cannot stop my literary hand.

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Giovanni Pinuellas
Re: John Debney battled Satan during filming   Thursday, October 28, 2004 (10:30 a.m.) 

This is a message to Aaron and YJulesYX and Aaron.
You two are obviously nothing more than a bunch of trouble-makers and who the hell are YOU TWO to decide wether or not what happened to John Debney was real or not??
Do you think anyone values your negative opinions, let alone your imature sarcasm??
Did you just jump into this website, just to cause trouble??
There are a lot of nuns, priests, pastors, and believers in this world---are you making fun of THEM for their faith as well??
There's a lot of things you two don't understand, and I too happen to be going something very similiar to what had happened to John Debney and I have six-inch scar on the top of my head to prove it.

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