Did Final Fantasy VII's opening cinematic took inspiration from the movie "Parking" (Jacques Demy) ?

What is the probability that this sequence was used as a reference for FF7's opening cinematic ?

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Dionysos

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It's good to see you here again. :)

I just noticed that the word Cetra is the latin for cithara, a kind of Lyre, the instrument of choice for Orpheus :-) !
This observation could reinforce the idea that this scene from the movie was not only used as a visual reference for the opening cinematic, but that the game may also have borrowed its symbolic and also its themes (those from the myth).
The Cetra people (the Lifestream) is perhaps the instrument used to allow the passage from one universe to another (to the master/god's final destination as well as the tool's promised land), assuming that the Cetra migrate from planet to planet and that the Lifestream is not the promised land .
You know, that connection with the name Cetra never occurred to me!

It would definitely fit with the Orphean symbolism and also the Lunar Harp (a Cetran artefact). When you look at the render of that item, it is a golden harp. Orpheus was sometimes imagined to have possessed a golden lyre. But the connection with the instrument itself is fascinating enough regardless of the material.

We’ve already discussed how the Lunar Harp is used to tame the Sleeping Forest to make it possible for a mortal to pass through, just like Orpheus did when he tamed the beasts and rulers of the Underworld with his musical prowess.

If we take the name 'Cetra' itself to refer to a cithara or similar instrument, then this particular association is indeed stronger.

We could also add something else to this. In some of the most popular versions of the Orpheus myth, he meets his end when he is torn to pieces by Thracian Maenads (crazed female followers of Dionysos). Following his death, his head is plopped into a river and floats out to sea while still singing songs in some accounts. His head is discovered (where it is discovered varies depending on individual accounts) and a shrine was built and an oracle established.

We might compare this with Aerith (sometimes considered the last Cetra) who is killed by a fanatical madman (or more accurately, an alien undead corpse which happens to be possessed and used by a madman). When Aerith dies and people say their goodbyes, she is promptly ‘buried’ in a pool of sorts where she sinks. That entire area almost becomes a shrine to her from then on. In a way, Aerith also leaves a legacy beyond her death, her ‘song’ in a sense still continuing, and prophesying certain outcomes and pulling the strings behind the scenes in the Lifestream to help the party.

Likewise the Cetra as the whole were decimated and forced into near-extinction by Jenova thousands of years ago, but their story and their warnings long outlived their mortal, physical bodies. Their familiarity with death, their close relationship with the Underworld/Lifestream, their harmony with nature and the ability to calm the natural world are all traits the Cetra shared with Orpheus. Adding a stringed instrument into the mix as an important Cetran symbol strengthens that thought.

I find it interesting though that we have found similarities to the Orpheus myth in many separate characters and locations within the game of FFVII. I don't think we can rightly pinpoint a singular 'Orpheus' and partner him up with a singular 'Eurydice'. I think the dance around the themes of death, loss, memory and so on is what draws us here time and time again. These themes are strong in the game.
 

Molosev

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It's good to see you here again. :)
Thank you, and it's always good to read back from you !

You know, that connection with the name Cetra never occurred to me!
A shame for Dionysos :p !
I think I had already discovered this relationship some time after seeing the scene from "Parking", but so much had to go through my head that I had not bothered to write it down and that I had finally forget it... Glad it came back !

I read from his tweeter account that Mr Nojima is a guitar player. Could he be this mysterious Orpheus? But then what would he seek to tame? the western audience? If so, looks like he succeeded ! (Please forgive my conspirational spirit...)

We could also add something else to this. In some of the most popular versions of the Orpheus myth, he meets his end when he is torn to pieces by Thracian Maenads (crazed female followers of Dionysos). Following his death, his head is plopped into a river and floats out to sea while still singing songs in some accounts. His head is discovered (where it is discovered varies depending on individual accounts) and a shrine was built and an oracle established.

We might compare this with Aerith (sometimes considered the last Cetra) who is killed by a fanatical madman (or more accurately, an alien undead corpse which happens to be possessed and used by a madman). When Aerith dies and people say their goodbyes, she is promptly ‘buried’ in a pool of sorts where she sinks. That entire area almost becomes a shrine to her from then on. In a way, Aerith also leaves a legacy beyond her death, her ‘song’ in a sense still continuing, and prophesying certain outcomes and pulling the strings behind the scenes in the Lifestream to help the party.

Likewise the Cetra as the whole were decimated and forced into near-extinction by Jenova thousands of years ago, but their story and their warnings long outlived their mortal, physical bodies. Their familiarity with death, their close relationship with the Underworld/Lifestream, their harmony with nature and the ability to calm the natural world are all traits the Cetra shared with Orpheus. Adding a stringed instrument into the mix as an important Cetran symbol strengthens that thought.

I find it interesting though that we have found similarities to the Orpheus myth in many separate characters and locations within the game of FFVII. I don't think we can rightly pinpoint a singular 'Orpheus' and partner him up with a singular 'Eurydice'. I think the dance around the themes of death, loss, memory and so on is what draws us here time and time again. These themes are strong in the game.
That's a very interesting view and you elegantly show how these references can amplify the message of the game (regarding the canon), but I still wonder why they would have taken so much attention to detail to engrave the symbolism of the myth so subtly and deeply. Because I honestly think that the link with the movie was not intended to be noticed and yet the two seem so strongly linked (I refer you to the list of similarities I noted on keikoku.com). And yet as you pointed out, there dosen't seem to be an evident Orpheus nor an Eurydice in the game.

The fact that the Cetra (Lifestream) can be seen as an instrument (a tool) pushes me to try to find its use (because the Lunar Harp* already has a use and you wouldn't want to use a Harp to enter/travel through a Harp). And I must say that it seems to work quite well (at least to me lol) in relation to my theory of a Lifestream (Cetra>Migration>Omega) which would serve as a ship (tool) to help travel through the cosmos (as Orpheus's Lyre would help him travel through Hades). But then yeah who is travelling and what destination would he be trying to reach... Maybe a god trying to reach his/her/its lover...

* I just observed that the Lunar Harp refers to the moon and that Vincent (that could be seen as part of Orpheus in some way) is often seen in front of a full moon.

Regarding the Act I from LOVELESS, Genesis tells us that he believes water means Lifestream (CC).
Infinite in mystery is the gift of the Goddess
We seek it thus, and take to the sky
Ripples form on the water's surface
The wandering soul knows no rest.
Is it reasonable to assume that the "wandering soul" is the one responsible for the forming of ripples, much like a musician's fingers on a harp would create sound waves ?
If yes I find it quite poetic to see the hustle and bustle of life as a melody.
But then it would be easy for a god to modulate the melody in order to obtain certain results...

I found this article while searching "god" and "harp" keywords on google:
Psalm 68: Are There Really Harps And Clouds In Heaven?
the "Cloud" word in this title caught my attention.
 
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Dionysos

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A shame for Dionysos :p !
Ha ha. Well, I can’t spot everything all at once! :P


I read from his tweeter account that Mr Nojima is a guitar player. Could he be this mysterious Orpheus? But then what would he seek to tame? the western audience? If so, looks like he succeeded ! (Please forgive my conspirational spirit...)
That’s a very poetic sentiment, but there may be some truth to that, in a manner of speaking.

Final Fantasy has always factored in the West in some way. Even the original Final Fantasy was heavily influenced by Dungeons and Dragons. The West has influenced Final Fantasy, and Square Enix have also often considered Western tastes and culture when developing Final Fantasy. In recent decades this has included decisions such as using popular Western singers like Leona Lewis, Florence Welch and developing a more lasting partnership with Susan Calloway, or using the talents and likenesses of Western actors for their movies. These might be the most obvious ones, but consistently Square Enix have also dealt with the mythology and popular culture of the West.

FFVII is a particularly strong example on this aspect, considering ‘Western’ in its very broadest sense. Cloud and Tifa have vaguely Norse origins (hailing from Nibelheim). Barret has a Wild West backstory. Nanaki/Red XIII is 'Native American' so the story of his species serves as a parallel to the story of ‘Western’ man meeting with Native Americans. Cid is stylised as a mid-20th century Western adventure pilot. Vincent (as we discussed earlier) is inspired by Western horror tropes. Aerith resembles a prairie/pioneer girl to some people. Cait Sith certainly has been put through a heavy Japanese makeover but the mythical origins of the cat creature stem from folklore of the Scottish highlands. Yuffie may be the true exception in being entirely and absolutely Japanese/Asian inspired.

That’s just the main cast. We can go deeper and deeper when we think about the others. Sephiroth (relating to the Hebrew Kabbalah), Bugenhagen (named for the Protestant Reformation figure), Heidegger (named after the German philosopher), Mayor Domino (named after Domino’s Pizza), Don Corneo (named after Don Corleone in The Godfather with alterations to create a pun on the stem word 'corn' meaning horn and thus labelling him as 'Mr. Horny'), Biggs and Wedge (named after Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles in Star Wars), and so on.

It sometimes seems like finding a Japanese name or concept might actually be a rarer occurrence than finding a ‘Western’ one in a Final Fantasy game. They exist, as characters such as Hojo would attest, but they are more difficult to spot.


The fact that the Cetra (Lifestream) can be seen as an instrument (a tool) pushes me to try to find its use (because the Lunar Harp* already has a use and you wouldn't want to use a Harp to enter/travel through a Harp). And I must say that it seems to work quite well (at least to me lol) in relation to my theory of a Lifestream (Cetra>Migration>Omega) which would serve as a ship (tool) to help travel through the cosmos (as Orpheus's Lyre would help him travel through Hades). But then yeah who is travelling and what destination would he be trying to reach... Maybe a god trying to reach his/her/its lover...

* I just observed that the Lunar Harp refers to the moon and that Vincent (that could be seen as part of Orpheus in some way) is often seen in front of a full moon.
I’ve tried to refresh myself on whether there are any lunar associations with Orpheus himself. As far as I can ascertain, there aren’t many that are of any particular relevance. There is an Orphic hymn to the moon, but the Orphic hymns are really a separate thing entirely. They were composed some time in the Hellenistic and Roman periods and merely attributed to Orpheus and his followers in antiquity and have nothing to do with the Orpheus of myth. Also the hymn to the moon is only one of many 'Orphic' hymns (over 80) addressed to many entities. In short, not really relevant other than some form of imagined legacy of Orpheus.

However, we could think about it ourselves. The moon has long been associated with the night and darkness and with horror which naturally lends itself to a comparison with the underworld. This is why we think of Vincent here again.

In witchcraft (including during ancient Greece as early as Aristophanes' The Clouds in 423 BC - Strepsiades is speaking to the parody of Socrates in this scene) there persisted an idea (or maybe more of a meme where the comic poet Aristophanes is considered) that witches or users of magic could draw down the moon from the sky. We might fancifully compare this with Orpheus drawing animals to him through his music, but I very much doubt that this crossed the minds of Square Enix at all. Nor anyone else until this moment.

That said, the association of music with the harmony of the cosmos is something which had been considered in antiquity and persisted for a long time afterwards (see the wiki page here for a rough summary of the concept). As it is with Apollo and the Muses, so it is with Orpheus. A good song can keep the universe spinning correctly and the celestial objects in their correct places. So goes the belief.

That the Cetra of FFVII were cosmically aware beings doesn't need to be said but I'll say it anyway. They possessed the ability to summon a meteor via the Black Materia and they observed cosmic beings land on the Planet. They themselves may have originated from another Planet or have been aware of others joining them (for example: the Spira situation, depending on when that happened, if it did). So maybe there is an association here between music and celestial objects. Although the Lunar Harp’s function in the game being to tame the forest suggests that they haven’t fully committed to that. Maybe the harp was best played in moonlight? More potent, drawing on the power from the moon?

Or maybe the Cetra themselves are also the musical instruments (hence the name). Their voices resonate with the will of the Planet and they are in tune with nature, maybe also the stars.

Regarding the Act I from LOVELESS, Genesis tells us that he believes water means Lifestream (CC).

Is it reasonable to assume that the "wandering soul" is the one responsible for the forming of ripples, much like a musician's fingers on a harp would create sound waves ?
If yes I find it quite poetic to see the hustle and bustle of life as a melody.
But then it would be easy for a god to modulate the melody in order to obtain certain results...

I found this article while searching "god" and "harp" keywords on google:
Psalm 68: Are There Really Harps And Clouds In Heaven?
the "Cloud" word in this title caught my attention.
I'm not a huge fan of Genesis, but this is an aspect of Genesis that I think I like and can appreciate in terms of the themes explored. He is making commentary and looking into deep meanings in poetry much like we are with this video game. In Genesis' case he may be overthinking it and it does turn him into an extremist, much like Sephiroth when he reads Gast's research out of context. These are lessons in the dangers of overreading with a narrow view and being ignorant of a wider context. Much can be said about people who quote-mine religious texts and other texts in a similar manner, and then act upon it, speaking as if they have unlocked some sort of hidden truth and imploring that others live by it and that nothing else matters.

But on this Genesis might be correct. It would seem natural enough considering the mythos of FFVII for the water to refer to the Lifestream. Especially considering that a line about a soul follows it immediately. If we consider your theory, we might interpret that the souls are irritable on the Planet itself ‘knowing no rest’ until they go out to the cosmos and find a new place.

But the imagery of a musician's fingers creating ripples on the water akin to sound waves is also nice. Especially when coupled with the water = Lifestream interpretation. The wandering bard could be plucking on the Lifestream/underworld, creating ripples.

The website linked to the harps in heaven article hasn't worked for me. I think the general symbolism with harps being in heaven might relate in some form to the above association between musical harmony and cosmic harmony. Some variation of that idea which developed over time, perhaps. Heavenly beings have long been depicted playing instruments.
 
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Molosev

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It sometimes seems like finding a Japanese name or concept might actually be a rarer occurrence than finding a ‘Western’ one in a Final Fantasy game. They exist, as characters such as Hojo would attest, but they are more difficult to spot.
Now that you say it ! I guess there's not much japanese environments/architectures either in the whole FF franchise.

I’ve tried to refresh myself on whether there are any lunar associations with Orpheus himself. As far as I can ascertain, there aren’t many that are of any particular relevance. There is an Orphic hymn to the moon, but the Orphic hymns are really a separate thing entirely. They were composed some time in the Hellenistic and Roman periods and merely attributed to Orpheus and his followers in antiquity and have nothing to do with the Orpheus of myth. Also the hymn to the moon is only one of many 'Orphic' hymns (over 80) addressed to many entities. In short, not really relevant other than some form of imagined legacy of Orpheus.
Happy to know about that hymn !

In witchcraft (including during ancient Greece as early as Aristophanes' The Clouds in 423 BC - Strepsiades is speaking to the parody of Socrates in this scene) there persisted an idea (or maybe more of a meme where the comic poet Aristophanes is considered) that witches or users of magic could draw down the moon from the sky. We might fancifully compare this with Orpheus drawing animals to him through his music, but I very much doubt that this crossed the minds of Square Enix at all. Nor anyone else until this moment.
Your line about "Orpheus drawing animals to him through his music" reminds me of the story of the "Pied Piper of Hamelin", vaguely.

I'm not a huge fan of Genesis, but this is an aspect of Genesis that I think I like and can appreciate in terms of the themes explored. He is making commentary and looking into deep meanings in poetry much like we are with this video game. In Genesis' case he may be overthinking it and it does turn him into an extremist, much like Sephiroth when he reads Gast's research out of context. These are lessons in the dangers of overreading with a narrow view and being ignorant of a wider context. Much can be said about people who quote-mine religious texts and other texts in a similar manner, and then act upon it, speaking as if they have unlocked some sort of hidden truth and imploring that others live by it and that nothing else matters.
Here I am warned ;).

The website linked to the harps in heaven article hasn't worked for me. I think the general symbolism with harps being in heaven might relate in some form to the above association between musical harmony and cosmic harmony. Some variation of that idea which developed over time, perhaps. Heavenly beings have long been depicted playing instruments.
Yeah, it dosen't talk much to me either.
 
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Dionysos

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Now that you say it ! I guess there's not much japanese environments/architectures either in the whole FF franchise.
I've noticed that subtle references exist, but they are coated over with the environments and architecture of other cultures.

The exceptions tend to be obvious. Wutai in FFVII is screaming out its Japanese heritage (combined with other Eastern heritage), and the same can be said with Othard / Doma in FFXIV. These are themed areas which sometimes make some interesting statements about their view of themselves.

Your line about "Orpheus drawing animals to him through his music" reminds me of the story of the "Pied Piper of Hamelin", vaguely.
The abilities of the Pied Piper of Hamelin are similar on this point, yeah. Both could control nature with their music. Although the Pied Piper turned into more of a malicious, trickster character than Orpheus and ended up stealing the children out of petty revenge after he wasn't paid in full for dealing with the rats. Orpheus was tragically misguided and may have demonstrated hubris (his attempt to rescue Eurydice from the Underworld instead of killing himself to join her signalled to some that he was only vain and half-hearted in his attempts). You could point out that the Pied Piper taking the children into a cave could be a bit like Orpheus' descent into the Underworld, but their intentions are reversed (Orpheus goes to take someone out; the Pied Piper leads the children in).

Here I am warned ;).
Ha ha. I wasn’t meaning you! You haven’t caused any harm with any of your theorising. I meant people who march about and force others to accept their personalised truths and condemn those who think differently.

To Genesis and Sephiroth their own interpretations of the truth (both misguided) seemed more important to them than the lives of others on the Planet.

Whereas exploring themes and considering multiple viewpoints and looking into various sources, etc? That's completely fine and healthy!

Yeah, it dosen't talk much to me either.
I meant the link itself didn’t work. I clicked it and found a server IP error so I couldn’t read it.
 

Molosev

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Orpheus was tragically misguided and may have demonstrated hubris (his attempt to rescue Eurydice from the Underworld instead of killing himself to join her signalled to some that he was only vain and half-hearted in his attempts).
That's a beautiful interpretation. I didn't thought of it that way.

You could point out that the Pied Piper taking the children into a cave could be a bit like Orpheus' descent into the Underworld, but their intentions are reversed (Orpheus goes to take someone out; the Pied Piper leads the children in).
Right. In my theory nobody tries to get someone out, there's just someone/thing that's trying to escape and continue his/its journey.
So there's nothing really strong/consistent in it that links to the Orpheus myth (except for the few details that we've pointed out).
That leaves the theory incomplete and me unsatisfied.

Ha ha. I wasn’t meaning you! You haven’t caused any harm with any of your theorising. I meant people who march about and force others to accept their personalised truths and condemn those who think differently.

To Genesis and Sephiroth their own interpretations of the truth (both misguided) seemed more important to them than the lives of others on the Planet.

Whereas exploring themes and considering multiple viewpoints and looking into various sources, etc? That's completely fine and healthy!
Damn, I thought I had finally managed to express my dark side! Fail...

I meant the link itself didn’t work. I clicked it and found a server IP error so I couldn’t read it.
Doesn't work for me anymore either. I’ll have a hard time summarizing it now that the source is gone..
 
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