Follow TV Tropes


"Bringer of War" Music

Go To

"Dadada-da-da! (chuckles) What a tune!"
Mars, Dota 2

A series of rapid-fire staccato notes followed by more spaced notes that are blasted out, usually by the horns. The result is a very martial and distinctive tempo. This is the signature sound of "Mars, Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's "The Planets". It is also one that film composers have drawn on inspiration for when they need something that sounds like war.


While "Mars" used that pattern described above, other composers may elect to play around with it, altering the order of the patterns, or in some cases dropping slower notes and just having the groups of rapid ones.


    open/close all folders 
In The Movie of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the main character Nanoha's Leitmotif, Gather, Light of the Stars, includes a prelude straight out of Holst. It must be noted here that this is the theme tune for a nine-year-old Magical Girl.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: The Holst tempo can be heard in the track "Calling Sky Captain", as Totenkopf's war machines are let loose on New York City.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: The main theme uses Holst-inspired music to set the mood, where the Federation and Klingons will determine if they can have peace, or if those who desire war will win out.
  • The Mask of Zorro: Heard in "Leave No Witnesses", the cue for the final battle, though in this case the Holst tempo comes as Captain Love orders Don Rafael's enslaved workers locked into cages to be buried alongside the rest of the evidence of their illegal mining operation.
  • Last of the Mohicans: This forms the basis of ''Fort Battle", the music that plays over the battle at Fort William.
  • Star Wars: Heard frequently throughout the films:
    • The music at the beginning of the first scene of A New Hope, where the Imperial star destroyer is pursuing Princess Leia's ship. It has a staccato beat clearly inspired by Holst's Mars music.
    • Perhaps the most prominent is the Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back, the main theme of the Empire in general and Darth Vader in particular.
    • Also heard as an ostinato in the Rebel Fanfare.
  • Muppet Treasure Island: Heard in the song "Shiver My Timbers" describing the bloodthirsty Captain Flint and his crew of cutthroat pirates. It starts in the second verse but becomes especially apparent in the final verse.
  • Gladiator: Heard most prominently in two tracks, "The Battle", where we first see Maximus leading his troops into battle giving the famous "What We Do In Life" speech, and "Barbarian Horde", the gladiatorial fight where he rallies his gladiators and leads them to victory.
    • The resemblance was uncanny enough in this case that the Holst estate sued the film over it.
  • The Boss Baby: "Mars, Bringer of War" is heard during the scene where Tim and Boss Baby infiltrate PuppyCo and try to take the file about their new puppy.
  • Independence Day: The track "Darkest Day" has this rhythm, as the alien ships appear in various parts around the world, literally bringing doom and war with them.
  • The Two Towers: Heard during the siege of Helm's Deep as the torchbearer is running to ignite the explosives planted in the fortresses' drain.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Holst-inspired music is heard as the pirates of the Black Pearl attack Port Royale.

  • "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath begins with lead guitarist Tony Iommi and bass player Geezer Butler constructing riffs around the main theme of Holst's Mars - Bringer of War. Holst's theme is still in the final mix if you listen very closely.
  • Gustav Holst's The Planets features this in "Mars, Bringer of War". While the pounding beat has almost certainly appeared in earlier works, Holst codified it into what it is now.
  • King Crimson's "The Devil's Triangle" is a direct adaptation of the Trope Namer, and as such features a distinctive plodding, percussive rhythm intended to invoke an atmosphere of militaristic violence.

  • During the final battle of Dino Attack RPG, several people play classical music to raise their teammates' morale and motivate them during the fight. Among them is Osprey, who plays "Mars, the Bringer of War" from his Aerial Defense Unit. It serves as a grimmer contrast to the "1812 Overture", which he was playing earlier in the battle when things were looking more optimistic.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • LEGO Legacy: Heroes Unboxed: One of the tracks for the Classic Space area is a literal remix of "Mars, Bringer of War" with techno sounds and Theremin tones to give it an otherworldly sound.
  • The Super Mario Bros. airship theme is built entirely around a militaristic staccato beat. While the orchestrated version from Super Mario Galaxy makes the homage to "Mars" very explicit through its use of drums, horns, and strings, it's impressive how the original chiptune introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3 still manages to convey that warlike tone.
  • Dota 2 has Mars' ultimate ability, Arena of Blood, which summons a ring of spears that serve as an arena for Mars and any entrapped enemies. Whenever the ability is active, a snippet of Holst's "Mars" would play to remind players to fight or die when he's on you. Even Mars hums to the song whenever he's given a move command or he kills an enemy while the ability is active.
  • Commander Keen: In the last level of the fifth episode, Quantum Explosion Dynamo, an adapted version of Holst's "Mars, Bringer of War" by Bobby Prince plays. This theme was chosen because, in this level, Keen has to disable a superweapon that is capable of obliterating the whole galaxy.
  • In the TurboGrafx-16 CD remake of Valis II, the Act 4 BGM is a "Mars"-esque arrangement of the game's main theme.
  • Mass Effect: A Holst-inspired rhythm is heard in "Final Assault", the piece underscoring the climb up the Citadel tower to reach Sovereign, battling Geth the entire way.
  • Kirby:
    • The "Arena Showdown" music from Kirby Super Star (and reused in some later games of the series) is heavily inspired by the "Bringer of War," with a steady tempo, brass lead, and rapid, staccato orchestra hits. Fittingly, it plays as the main battle theme in the game's Boss Rush mode. This homage is made more apparent by the Arena's title theme, which more closely resembles the original composition.
    • The "True Arena Showdown" theme introduced in Kirby Super Star Ultra, meanwhile, is a heavy metal-style remix of the original "Arena Showdown" theme that starts out slow and picks up in tempo, retaining the staccato beat with its rhythm guitar. Its more intense sound fits the increased difficulty of the True Arena.
  • In Descent 2, the MIDI music for Level 2 is basically an industrial take on "Mars, Bringer of War".
  • Medal of Honor makes excellent use of "Mars"-style rhythms in "Taking Out The Railgun".

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • There's an scene in The Venture Bros. that invokes this for a scene of Number 21 and Number 24 suiting up, with the Holst piece playing in the background as the characters hum/sing the melody over top.