For this new issue of Seriefonia, head for Pirate Island with composer John Debney.
[« SérieFonia : Season IV : Opening Credits » – Jerôme Marie]
[Extrait Sonore « Cutthroat Island »]
[« Cutthroat Island – Main Title » – John Debney]
This week, I wanted a little action in SérieFonia… Old fashioned. With raging orchestras, marked melodies, deployed choirs… As in Pirate Island, by Renny Harlin in 1995. So, pim, let’s go for a John Debney special. And we start a little differently than usual. Neither by cinema nor by television. Because it is impossible to dissociate his universe from that of Walt Disney. As proof, I want his orchestration of the Phantom Manor attraction, which has haunted the Disneyland Paris park since its launch on April 12, 1992. Remember…
[« Phantom Manor – Inner Manor (Bride’s Welcome) » – John Debney]
In doing so, he officially took over from the man who had hired him a few years earlier, as arranger, on various projects for the Florida park: Buddy Baker (including composer of the original version, Grim Grinning Ghosts, for the New Orleans park and inaugurated in 1969 under the title Haunted Mansion. It is therefore logical that we then find him at work on feature films (initially non-animated) such as Hocus Pocus , by Kenny Ortega in 1993…
[« Hocus Pocus – Witches’ Lair, Part I » – John Debney]
Or Croc-Blanc 2, by Ken Olin the following year…
[« White Fang 2 – Noble Heart » – John Debney]
A filiation with a character that is all the more inevitable since, long before him, his own father (Louis Debney) had spent his entire life working for the studio with big ears. Still a child, the latter had started as a simple little seller of Journal de Mickey, until becoming a producer on some 80 episodes of Zorro and a hundred of Mickey Mouse Club after having participated in the assembly of the set plans on Blanche -Neige and the 7 Dwarfs! Also, when John Debney graduated from the California Institute of Arts in 1979, he was immediately recruited as a copyist at Disney, where he remained for a few years before completing his training by working a lot for television, first under the aegis of Mike Post, then Hoyt Curtin. Once launched solo, he chained the episodes of the series Fame, SuperTed, Scooby-doo… Until Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and SeaQuest DSV…
[« SeaQuest DSV – Series Promo » – John Debney]
Three seasons for NBC between 1993 and 1996, under the tutelage of Rockne O’Bannon and Steven Spielberg… Of Star Trek under the sea, with the nevertheless brilliant Roy Scheider… But which did not leave an imperishable memory for all that. Still, the music was cool. A fine start to his career, but it was around two years later that the first real encounter with film music lovers took place. You heard him at the opening of this pastille: the symphonic panache and the breadth of the choirs of his Île aux pirates instantly raise him to the ranks of the essentials. And as, who says pirates says treasure, here is the theme that accompanied the discovery…
[« Cutthroat Island – Discovery of the Treasure » – John Debney]
Suddenly the doors open. And projects vary. In 1997, he tried his hand at a slasher thriller, with Remember Last Summer, by Jim Guillespie…
[« I Know What You Did Last Summer – The Note » – John Debney]
In 99, to action with a fantastico-demonic tendency with Peter Hyams’ La fin des temps, with Arnold Schwarzenegger who sticks a tatane to Satan himself…
[« End of Days – The Gates of Hell » – John Debney]
Or to Egyptian mythology revisited in a big-armed way for the needs of the rotten spin-off of The Mummy: The Scorpion King, with The Rock, in 2002… Knowing that in 2008, he will also sign the additional music for the third opus, official this one, The tomb of the dragon emperor, however entrusted to Randy Edelman. Moreover, speaking of additional music, it is also he who worked in the shadow of Danny Elfman on Spider-Man 2 then that of Christopher Young on Spider-Man 3.
[« The Scorpion King – Valley of the Dead » – John Debney]
In 2003, Bruce Tout-Puissant, by Tom Shadyac with Jim Carrey, is interesting in more ways than one. Firstly because it’s a comedy and he can afford to sound a little more lightly in it than usual… And then, because he comes up against a divine and religious notion that will catch up with him. several times thereafter, notably through his collaboration with Mel Gibson. But I’ll save that for the end…
[« Bruce Almighty – Bruce’s Theme » – John Debney]
For Disney, he also puts to music Kuzco, the megalomaniac emperor in 2000, Princess in spite of herself, which had a cute little success the following year… Then its sequel in 2004… Then comes the improbable but succulent Chicken Little, directed by Mark Dindal, where his score mixes with the hits of Diana Ross or REM
[« Chicken Little – Dodgeball » – John Debney]
One of his most fruitful encounters is undoubtedly the one with Jon Favreau. Long before taking over the serial universe of Star Wars, with The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, the director therefore entrusted John Debney with the composition of his first films: Elf in 2003, Zathura in 2005… Oddly, it is Ramin Djawadi who is called on the first Iron Man… But luckily Debney returns to the dance for Iron Man 2 in 2010.
[« Iron Man 2 – I Am Iron Man » – John Debney]
At the same time, he still works a lot for television and even goes through the Doctor Who box for the TV movie introducing Paul McGann in the role. A bit of Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Cape, Justice League of America… Then, in 2012 and 2013, he went on in quick succession with two very fine mini-series: the western Hatfields & McCoys, first for the History Channel with Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as rival cowboys…
[« Hatfields and McCoy – Theme » – John Debney]
And Bonnie & Clyde, again for History, with Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger in the title roles.
[« Bonnie and Clyde – Bonnie’s Sacrifice » – John Debney]
After which, he reunites with Favreau for the live-action remake of The Jungle Book… Perhaps not the director’s best film, but nonetheless a fantastic source of technological experimentation that will lead to whole new forms of movie-based filmmaking. virtual reality processes hitherto dedicated solely to video games.
[« The Jungle Book – Shere Khan’s War Theme » – John Debney]
As you may have heard, John Debney is a jack of all trades. But his most personal and undoubtedly most accomplished work remains his incredible composition for the yet very controversial The Passion of the Christ according to Mel Gibson. As a devout Catholic and eager to pay homage to his late mother, he takes up the challenge of an ethnic, visceral and committed score from which he will also draw a simply breathtaking symphony of grandeur and emotion(s)… You can tell me take my word for it, I was with him at the very first performance, in Rome, in July 2005… For the film, he benefited from three months of writing instead of the three weeks that we usually give him. Believer or not, it doesn’t matter, the sincerity felt when listening to it is obvious and can only take your guts, regardless of its filmic context… I leave you naturally on this and I let you appreciate…
[« The Passion of the Christ – Jesus is Carried Down » – John Debney]
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