Monday, January 14, 2013

Surveying Literature: Final Fantasy Advent Children

Over the holiday, I watched my Blu-Ray of Final Fantasy Advent Children.  I've also just finishing up a play of Final Fantasy VII, so I've got its music on my mind.  Decided to let the weapons live.... for now.  I'm wondering how game music is used in Advent Children... here are my thoughts, jotted down as I watch the movie.  Many paths to follow in future blogs.

I'm struck by how similarly the movie starts as the game.  This is an idea I encountered in film music class as a DMA student years ago: producers want something just different enough that it's interesting, but similar enough that it feels familiar and comfortable.  The movie starts with the same opening music, starting up high and then panning down to the planet, cut screens from at a distance to something close up.  Yet, Red's running shots and Midgar overgrown with nature tells us we're at the end of the FF VII world.

I knew that they'd use many familiar musical themes, but its very interesting to see how much of it is the same... I'd guess 60-70% of the music is the same.

As the FF7 background story is told, the music sounds like Gregorian chant.  Recalling something older, ancient, holy... this music elevates the story and gives it a "passed down through generations feel."

Credits start like Jaws: a similar foreboding two note motive in the bass that underscores this entire scene.

Bike ride:  Graphics look like FF13.  The music has a feel of a battle in Final Fantasy, but isn't a recognizable theme to me.  The rhythm and repetition makes it feel-- to an avid FF player-- like a battle.  While they could have used any music they wanted from the game, perhaps the "sound-a-like" music was used to better match with the battle details.

As Cloud goes in to meet Rufus, I've already been struck twice by the amount of silence in the film.  Maybe because I've been watching various Star Trek episodes recently, known for their heavy underscoring, but these pauses and background silences are LONG.

Church scene plays the first totally familiar theme, Tifa's Theme.  This recording is from the Final Fantasy Piano collection-- this is undisguised marketing, for both the recording and the sheet music.  Example of cross media marketing.

Scene with Rufus and Kadaj.  I'm struck by the minimalist and repetitive nature of this music.  It's got me thinking about how video game music has changed to a style of looping and building the music by adding and removing layers.  Wondering when that divide occurred in game composition history.

Tifa vs. Loz:  The battle music from FF7 arranged for piano.  Again, this is selling the piano music-- I remember hearing this for the first time and thinking: how can I get my hands on this music?!  Cell phone ring is my favorite audio moment in the film-- certainly cracks up all FF7 lovers on first hearing.  As well as clever marketing for a different audio genre: ring tones.


The Bahamut summon again has choir singing, brass, sounds like a very dramatic scene from Sparticus or Ben-Hur.  Barrett, Yuffie, Red fight with Bahamut...  music sounds grundge, rock and roll...  Reminds me of what my techno friends listened to in the late 90s.  How do popular music tastes drive game audio?

At the very end...  a variety of themes comes back, just as in the final scene of FFVII.  Provides an emotion recap of the movie/game.

Also watched the special features.  Weird to see FF13 as a preview.

I found a wiki article about the music of all things Final Fantasy VII.  This would be a good place to noodle around through footnotes and whatnot to learn more.  Specifics are often lacking in this sort of analysis, though.  If you're interested to see the movie, you can watch it online now... please post any reactions to the music in the comments!