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 Post subject: On conceptual themes (and Final Fantasy)
PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:07 am 
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Over the past few years, I've gradually come to a realization concerning writing and storytelling in general. While there are many superb, fantastic, elaborate stories which are highly complex in both scope and subject matter, I think the most truly memorable and personally meaningful are most often those built around singular and very specific themes and/or ideas. If you think about and examine your very favorite stories, peeling away their layers, you may find that you can pinpoint a single, fundamental concept or emotion that everything else in it is built around. And since realizing this, I've made a conscious effort to "build" everything I've written in this way, around singular, fundamental themes.

Thinking about this recently, I also discovered that the story of every single game in the Final Fantasy series (for which I've had an on-again, off-again affinity ever since the first game :lol: ) is similarly built around a single, concise theme, although each and every one has a different theme and focus. I'm not ashamed to admit that this discovery has raised my regard for the series as a whole.

Here are the ones I've settled on so far.

Final Fantasy (I): Destiny. (Or Faith, as a friend of mine suggested.)
Final Fantasy IV: Redemption.
Final Fantasy VII: Life.
Final Fantasy VIII: Love.
Final Fantasy X: Death.

Out of the installments I like or am at least familiar with, the only one I can't quite pinpoint is Final Fantasy VI, but that game has a lot of really unconventional elements from a storytelling perspective (for example, the fact that there really is no one, single main character!).

Anyway, I thought others might find this an interesting topic to discuss.

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 Post subject: Re: On conceptual themes (and Final Fantasy)
PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:34 pm 
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The recurring theme is common among literary elements, yes. Hmm, maybe I should be actively doing those for my stories as well....Anyway.


I'm pretty sure FFVI's theme is acceptance (with a heavy subtheme on acceptance of death). It's chock full of characters who've spent inordinate amounts of time and/or effort fighting to undo personal events (Locke with Rachel's accident, Cyan with his family's death, Edgar and Sabin with the death of their father, Setzer with the death of Darrill, etc. etc.), to no avail. It's only when they accept the things they cannot change that they can focus on the things they can. This even applies on an organizational level, like when the Returners and the Empire sit down to dinner and settle their differences in order to focus on the espers running wild.

I also think FFVIII's theme is reliance/reliability, even if it was written with love in mind as the theme. Squall overcoming his unwillingness to rely on anyone other than himself is significant, and plays out with a lot more people than just Rinoa; and the inability of characters to resolve things single-handedly on a psychological level is also a recurring situation; ranging from Squall talking Irvine out of his anxiety so he'll do the shot he was assigned to the party for, to Quistis talking Squall out of letting Rinoa be cryogenicly frozen just because she said she was OK with it (long story).

As for FFIX...I'm not sure what singular word describes it, but I do believe the recurring theme is individuals realizing that some of their beliefs are wrong, and the their plans and behavior have actually been contrary to the goals they were seeking with them. This includes Steiner and (later) Beatrix realizing Queen Brahne was no longer acting in her kingdom's (or daughter's) best interest, Brahne herself realizing her greed was abhorrent to her (just before she died, of course), Kuja being informed he was intentionally created with mortality (ending his hopes of ruling forever...and shifting his goal to ending all life in defiance)....

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 Post subject: Re: On conceptual themes (and Final Fantasy)
PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 12:00 am 
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I've only recently begun to see the same thing as well, only it's been in the Harry Potter books. :P The overall theme throughout the books is love and death, which are the two concepts that dominate all others because they inevitably loom large in everyone's lives sooner or later. However, I have noticed others:

Philosopher's Stone: Discovery
Chamber of Secrets: Choices
Prisoner of Azkaban: Justice
Goblet of Fire: Unity and divisiveness
Order of the Phoenix: Rebellion
The Half-Blood Prince: Love
The Deathly Hallows: Death

Of course, there are numerous sub-plots and other themes woven into the story as well.


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 Post subject: Re: On conceptual themes (and Final Fantasy)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:39 am 
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snowman1989 wrote:
I've only recently begun to see the same thing as well, only it's been in the Harry Potter books. :P The overall theme throughout the books is love and death, which are the two concepts that dominate all others because they inevitably loom large in everyone's lives sooner or later. However, I have noticed others:

Philosopher's Stone: Discovery
Chamber of Secrets: Choices
Prisoner of Azkaban: Justice
Goblet of Fire: Unity and divisiveness
Order of the Phoenix: Rebellion
The Half-Blood Prince: Love
The Deathly Hallows: Death

Of course, there are numerous sub-plots and other themes woven into the story as well.

Interesting, I can see those.

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 Post subject: Re: On conceptual themes (and Final Fantasy)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 2:05 am 
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Just watched Jurassic Park again for the first time in years. Still a good movie, even if the initially flashy special effects have since aged a bit, not to mention the factual errors about several of the dinosaurs (for instance, T-Rex didn't depend on movement for catching prey, Dilophosaurus didn't have that freaky frill, nor did it spit venom and Velociraptor was the size of a chicken.... and it had feathers :lol: ).

Anywho, with me being a little older and wiser, I've spotted the main concept, which is actually referred to several times, as "Nature always finds a way," especially when Humanity attempts to play God. Another possible theme would be of chaos in spite of attempts at order and control, the unexpected and random occurances scuttling all attempts to make everything nice and neat and predictable.


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 Post subject: Re: On conceptual themes (and Final Fantasy)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:38 am 
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snowman1989 wrote:
Just watched Jurassic Park again for the first time in years. Still a good movie, even if the initially flashy special effects have since aged a bit, not to mention the factual errors about several of the dinosaurs (for instance, T-Rex didn't depend on movement for catching prey, Dilophosaurus didn't have that freaky frill, nor did it spit venom and Velociraptor was the size of a chicken.... and it had feathers :lol: ).
Were those things known at the time the movie was made, or when the book was written? Serious question, I honestly don't know.

On that subject, I can't help thinking about how much in the way of accurate, factual details can truly be "known" about such creatures when they've been extinct since before the dawn of recorded history. Fossil evidence does provide us with many clues, as does observation of geology, weather cycles, other non-extinct species, and so on. But when you really think about it, there's a limit to how much truly conclusive knowledge can be gleaned from these things. And while we can guess at many details and fill in the blanks to the best of our ability, the truth is that many widely accepted "facts" (for example, the visual perception or skin pigmentation of a T-Rex) are often pieced together from assumptions based on little more than guesswork. This is particularly true in the area of scientific theory, which IMHO is too often confused with "fact", even when these supposed truths are very often and by necessity subject to drastic revision as more information is discovered.
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Anywho, with me being a little older and wiser, I've spotted the main concept, which is actually referred to several times, as "Nature always finds a way," especially when Humanity attempts to play God. Another possible theme would be of chaos in spite of attempts at order and control, the unexpected and random occurances scuttling all attempts to make everything nice and neat and predictable.
Those could also be viewed as being two sides of a singular overarching theme. In fact, I think that's kind of the idea I stumbled upon in the above paragraph, although I wasn't really conscious of it as I was writing.

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 Post subject: Re: On conceptual themes (and Final Fantasy)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:51 am 
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I think Crichton confused Velociraptor (found in Mongolia, Russia and China) with the larger Deinonychus (USA) when he was writing the book and didn't realise the mistake until later. There was also a popular dinosaur book produced by Gregory S. Paul which added to the confusion, so yes, you have a point about the limits of paleontology and scientific theory not necessarily being fact. The thing about raptors (new evidence suggesting that maybe all of them) having feathers was only discovered very recently, years after the film was released, so they had no way of knowing. New information is being discovered every year.

Ultimately, Jurassic Park, both book and film, were made for entertainment, not for fact, although Crichton did make an effort to be accurate in the book, and acknowledged that he made mistakes.


Hollywood and HISHE on the other hand just don't give a fuck


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