By MajorMitch 6 Comments
I love it when a song can define a single, powerful moment. Be it in video games, movies, or even real life, the right song used at the right time can make an already memorable moment even more so. One of my favorite examples of this in video games comes in the form of Aeris’ Theme (I know it's technically "Aerith", but she'll always be “Aeris” to me!) from Final Fantasy VII. I should probably warn you that if you’re one of the two people left on the planet still concerned with Final Fantasy VII spoilers, there will be big ones here.
Aeris’ Theme, as the name suggests, is the character theme for Aeris. In this sense, it does a lot to define what Aeris is all about. Amid all the crazy things that happen during Final Fantasy VII, Aeris somehow manages to remain calm and collected the entire time. She is, in a lot of ways, portrayed as a beacon of hope and reason, someone who just might be able to save this poor planet. And she handles that role as calmly and as confidently as anyone could be expected to; she proves the strength of her character multiple times throughout the game. Unsurprisingly, her theme represents all of these same attributes. It is, first and foremost, a calm song. The instrumentation and chords are all very soft, and represent someone who accepts her role without complaint. At the same time, the notes here are strong and steady, and exude a lot of subtle confidence. This is clearly someone who knows what they need to do, and is at peace with their fate. The tone of the song represents this dynamic incredibly well.
These qualities combine to make Aeris’ Theme an extremely powerful song. It doesn’t shove itself in your face, but the way it swells and grows as it moves along can pull at your (or at least my) heartstrings. Relying mostly on the same basic melody throughout, the song starts out quiet and peaceful and then slowly builds up until it finally erupts in a grand swell of emotion. I see this as chronicling Aeris’ trials as they build during the game, ultimately culminating in that aforementioned penultimate moment at the end of the first disc; her death. And what a moment it is. As Cloud holds a limp Aeris in his hands, this song continues to play on, almost as if to try and convince us that we shouldn’t be sad (I kind of see it as a message from Aeris to Cloud, telling him to be strong). Aeris herself is the last person who would cry about her fate; she would simply soldier on with a smile. Her theme does an equally wonderful job at accepting its role and carrying on with a calm but powerful confidence, as if to remind us to never give in even in our worst moments.
In some ways Aeris’ Theme is a sad song, but I also find it to be a surprisingly uplifting one. Also, what's often lost in the drama of the memorable scene it accompanies is just how beautiful the song itself really is. The instrumentation, the core melody, the chords, the rhythm; I find it all incredibly beautiful purely as a song (I’ve posted an orchestrated version as well, which is my preferred version). That such a wonderful song is also so directly linked with one of gaming’s most memorable scenes is a fantastic treat, and does a lot to cement Aeris’ Theme as one of my favorite video game songs.
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