The Gospel of John

Colosseum (4005939653026)
Varèse Sarabande (030206653021)
Movie | Released: 2003 | Film release: 2003 | Format: CD

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# Track   Duration
1.For God So Loved The World3:03
2.I Am The Bread Of Life2:54
3.The Road Through Samaria3:18
4.Mary Washes Jesus' Feet2:37
5.Here Comes Your King1:44
6.Pilate's Dilemma2:59
7.The Lamb Of God2:12
8.Jesus and Nicodemus3:05
9.You Will Not Find Me1:49
10.The Prayer4:21
11.Solomon's Porch3:37
12.One Of You Is A Devil1:56
13.The Betrayal2:58
14.What Is Truth?2:30
15.The Ruler Of This World3:15
16.Jesus At The Temple3:10
17.Cast Your Nets2:28
18.Follow Me4:33
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The Gospel of John - 08/10 - Review of Tom Daish, submitted at
As noted by Mr Southall at Moviewave, Miklos Rozsa often spent months researching period music for his Biblical epics and then wrote music that sounded pretty much like all his other scores. In fairness to Rozsa, notation from music of that era hasn't survived well and so portraying the Romans in Ben-Hur, for example, is more calculated guess work than anything else. Of course, modern versions of ancient local instruments can be added for dash of local flavour. In all the hype and controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's Passion - the full blood and guts 'this is as it was' retelling - The Gospel of John is a more subdued and objective look at the life of Christ. It doesn't hype Him as an especially great orator or a show off, performing miracles as proof of his divine status, but God as a man, trying to teach those around him and making the ultimate sacrifice for the benefit of all mankind.
Jeff Danna does not immediately spring to mind as a composer who is ideally suited to composing music for a film of such gravitas, but his star is certainly on the rise and for my money, starting to eclipse is better known brother. The opening couple of tracks are not especially promising, although I suppose that depends on your taste for non-western instruments and harmonic language. However, as the notes by music supervisor Stephen Cera mention, a great deal of effort was expended in finding instruments for both the time and place. Perhaps the most important and powerful instrument is the voice of French singer Esther Lamandier who specialises in singing ancient Hebrew chants. Unpromising though this may sound, her voice is a powerful presence, notably in the soaring Mary Washes Jesus' Feet or the intimate beauty of The Prayer, which is hard to forget. The reprise of material from The Prayer for the finale, Follow Me, is a strikingly powerful conclusion. However, her contributions to the darker passages are equally important, notably in Pilate's Dilemma.

Although the region specific instruments are an essential addition, the power of a full symphony orchestra is not easily eclipsed. Therefore, when The Philharmonic Orchestra make its presence felt in The Road Through Samaria, Danna's music moves from the parochial to the intensely dramatic and pushes the right buttons to allow the music to soar. At the other end of the scale, the flighty, but angst ridden, Pilate's Dilemma (before Lamandier's vocals are introduced) invokes a striking level of conflict and drama. The final tracks are a mixture of turbulence, as evidenced in the The Betrayal and Jesus at the Temple, and hope in Cast Your Nets and Follow Me. Some of the more brazen moments sound more like they've escaped from an action film and the bluster is just a little too much, but these are generally brief and dramatic outbursts that make their point with concision and energy. They are carefully balanced by the greater quantity of gentle material which is where the score's power resides. Danna's finest work to date.
The Gospel of John - 10/10 - Review of Andreas Lindahl, submitted at
Wow. Scores rarely get more beautiful than this. Jeff Danna's score for The Gospel of John is one of the largest surprises of 2003. If not the largest. Not having heard anything about this film or its score, I popped the CD in the player without knowing what to expect at all, something which, unfortunately, rarely happens these days. I was very surprised and pleased. No, let me rephrase that last sentence. I was blown away.

Music for films like this (read: religious) is often larger than life, with huge orchestras, often with an unusually large brass section. Jeff Danna's score, however, is much more human, which is something I welcome. There's a lot of writing for strings. And don't expect large brass fanfares. Because there aren't any. The Gospel of John is filled with slow, comforting music, except for a couple of darker, more dramatic, tracks, such as "Pilate's Dilemma", which features some great writing for low strings and muted brass.

Danna uses middle eastern and other ethnic - as well as ancient Roman - instruments a lot throughout the score. Both percussion and flutes. And this, together with the "normal", conventional orchestra creates a beautiful sound and mood.

To heighten and emphezie the human aspect of the story Danna uses female vocals. "Mary Washes Jesus' Feet" is a beautiful two and a half minute track which features some beautiful Aramaic vocals performed by Esther Lamandier, supported by harp, strings and flutes. One of the absolutely best tracks this score has to offer.

And the themes, then. Oh, the themes. They are absolutely wonderful. The main theme, heard for the first time in the opening track, "For God so Loved the World", is a long, sweeping melody that stays in your mind for ages. It's not overly sentimental and it's not too bombastic and sappy. It's just... perfect. Wonderful. It gets a more lush treatment in "Here Comes Your King" but is mostly rather restrained.

The Gospel of John is one of the best scores from 2003. Perhaps the best. Get it.
'A handsome, well-made epic production, graced by stirring images and an authoritative cast which takes its cue from Cusick's (as Jesus) charismatic performance. Director Philip Saville delivers the pageantry.'
- Hollywood Reporter

'Dramatically powerful, surprising & bold! The meaning of the 'Word' has been conveyed by director Philip Saville with rigor and discipline.'
- Variety

A momentous undertaking, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN is an ambitious motion picture that has been adapted for the screen on a word for word basis.

In the story of Jesus' life as recounted by His disciple John, this three-hour epic feature film draws its audience into antiquity by way of meticulous recreation, including an original musical score complete with instrumental sounds of the time. This ambitious motion picture follows the Gospel precisely, neither adding to the story from other Gospels, nor omitting complex passages.

Narrated by renowned Canadian actor Christopher Plummer, with a distinguished cast from Canada and the United Kingdom selected primarily from Canada's prestigious Stratford Festival and Soulpepper Theatre Company, as well as Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal National Theatre, it features British actor Henry Ian Cusick in the seminal role of Jesus Christ.

John is the best-loved but least understood of the gospels, presenting a uniquely human portrait of Jesus. Intimate and reflective, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN provides audiences with an unparalleled opportunity to understand the tumultuous period in history at the time of Jesus Christ.

Inspired by an ancient world and deftly blending with the instruments of our modern era, the score to THE GOSPEL OF JOHN brings the music of the biblical world to life.

Recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, Composer Jeff Danna's score incorporates an eclectic and evocative mix of early and modern instruments. Internationally-renowned Egyptian percussionist, Hossam Ramzy applied himself to an extraordinarily diverse battery of percussion instruments, all of which originated in the ancient world. Among them were early precursors of the tambourine (sistrum and timbrels), ancient lutes, as well as a full range of drums of different pitches. French soprano Esther Lamandier, who is one of the world's foremost performers of reconstructions of ancient Hebraic music, performs Aramaic chants that are woven throughout the musical text. Included in the instrumentation are ancient harps known as psalteries, the rabab, a bowed, three-string fiddle of Byzantine or Arabic origin, and - perhaps most importantly for the film - the ney, an ancient flute originating in the Middle East and North Africa and dating from the 3rd millennium BC. All this and much more are featured in the thoroughly epic and powerfully moving orchestral score.

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