What movies can you recall–besides The Matrix, which was mentioned in the lecture notes–that follow the thread of The Hero’s Journey? When you cite your film, or films, be sure to judge whether or not you believe the general formula was appropriated well or poorly; and, moreover, describe a few scenes that match some of the stages of the journey, such as done in the video in the lecture notes.
- Many films follow the guidelines of a hero’s journey; the basis of a plot is the presence of a protagonist and antagonist, and the fight for a certain objective, or sometimes, good between evil. My belief of a well generated formula for a plot includes events that create a rollercoaster of emotions for the reader/viewer/audience, a series of events that can cause the largest amount of surprise or theatricality. It is the never-ending satiability of Hollywood: to create a film that is not boring (to do that you need considerable or wisely used budget and talented directors/producers) and not predictable. On the other hand, some films or television series takes these ideals and push them to the limit. For example, the recent series called “NipTuck’ is entertaining but terribly upsetting. The show started out with a certain level of excitement and had to keep up, revealing disturbing twists like adultery and incest and birth defects. But, that is a tv show, with the opportunity to extend the journey of characters much further than a movie’s ability. Some great example of the hero’s journey in films are Crusades movies, which exhibit the Hero’s journey without fail; “300,’ “Gladiator,’ “Kingdom of Heaven.’ These men (note, all men) all faced a situation that caused them to enter action, or follow the “call to adventure,’ the first with fairness and independence being threatened, the latter were faced with a tragedy that left them with no hope. But throughout the films, these men went on adventures that evolved their character. The evolution of a protagonist’s character is where the Hero’s journey is questioned, because sometimes the character expresses the progress inefficiently. These men all reached a threshold, as their lives all changed dramatically. My favorite of these films is Gladiator, because the entire time the protagonist is torn between his imprisonment and his desire to have his revenge on the king, a perfect example of challenge and temptation. This revenge is only possible if he continues his imprisonment and is patient. Not to mention, the scenes of action is a good visual for the Hero’s badassery. The endings all present a death of some sort to signify closure; some literally, as in “300,’ and “Kingdom of Heaven,’ and some figuratively, as Orlando Bloom in “Kingdom of Heaven’ rides off down the mountain with the disparaged Queen, and their destination or future plans are indeterminate. But Gladiator is still my favorite example, as his death brought serendipitous feelings of atonement as he is reunited with his family in the afterlife. I think the main differences between stories about heroes is the endings; they all end fairly differently. A hero can die at the end and still be a hero, or he can run off into the sunset or be reunited with his home village to be surrounded in glory. It seems to me, although there is “a hero’s journey,’ there doesn’t seem to be a specific hero’s ending.
- Do you believe current cinema either meets or fails to meet the human needs expressed in the four functions of mythology? Those needs would be: the need for mystery; the need for a picture of the universe in which human beings belong; the need for a picture of our society in which each person belongs; the need for a picture of our own psychology that helps with the transitions of a human life, from childhood to adulthood, from adulthood to death. Can movies meet any of these needs? Why or why not?
- Movies strive to meet these needs; Hollywood spends billions to recreate these philosophical needs people have. Movies themselves are a mini picture of the universe, with characters and emotions thrown in, a place for people to lose themselves. A person may never be able to travel through the stars and come into contact with alien life forces, but when they watch “Star Wars,’ they can. Or look at the plethora of scientific films, documentaries on history or sea life or even illegal substances. Information is readily accessible to most people in the world, and by watching current cinema we are satiated by our needs for mystery, living precariously through these fictional lives. In fact, it could be argued that the media is oversaturating our desire for adventure and mystery, and causing it to be absent in our actions, creating a domestic society. And just as this could be argued, so could the belief that violence and adventure in cinema (as are common traits of the Hero’s journey path), and video games are causing more violence and unrest in our society. At that point though, you just have to decide if violence is inherent in the world. As Joseph Campbell points out, violence and evolution has been happening before humans even came onto the scene, so to excuse ourselves from this behavior is taking ourselves out of the god’s hands. In fact, in a book called “Ishmael,’ this very same point is made, while the main character follows a loose hero’s journey. But, instead of spoiling the ending of that book like we did to the movies above, you guys will just have to read it =)