September 19, 2019

From ‘Star Wars’ to ‘The Shining,’ why the 13th-century ‘Dies Irae’ shows up in so many movies

As Catholicism permeated world culture, the melody of the Dies Irae found its way into classical music, where it was used to convey a deathly, eerie tone. From there it worked its way into films — and if you don’t already know it, you’ve almost certainly heard it before: It’s played over and over in our scariest and most dramatic cinematic moments.


  1. 1:40 "Over the next few hundred years, the Church's influence spread considerably." Wow. What a display of historical ignorance.

    What really happened was that, over the next few hundred years, new art forms were developed, and these made use of Church symbolism, including the Dies Irae. In most ways, however, the influence of the Church decreased, with the Protestant Reformation claiming most of northern Europe, with the spread of nationalism, with the spread of "Enlightenment" thinking, and the spread of quasi-religious secret societies, like the Freemasons.

    1. That depends on your definition of The Church. Since all baptized in the name of The Father, Son And Holy Spirit are members of The Church.

    2. That's not what the Church teaches. Heretics are not members of the Church and they all are baptized.

  2. This is one of my favorite pieces of Latin music in our church.