What Do Star Wars, The Matrix, and Lion King Have In Common?

 

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Joseph Campbell.

The famed American mythologist identified an underlying structure within stories and religions around the world. He called it “the hero’s journey.” Ultimately it has to do with each person’s search for the unknowable force that creates and sustains all that exists. This is expressed differently throughout history and is affected by culture, as he explains in his groundbreaking book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

The hero’s journey is broken into steps that inspired many popular films including the Batman and Indiana Jones series as well as novels and video games. Screenwriter Christopher Vogler created a company memo based on Campbell’s work which led to the 1994 animated feature The Lion King. Vogler expanded that memo into the book The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. And it’s commonly known that George Lucas credits Campbell as a major influence in the development of the Star Wars series.

You can delve more deeply into Campbell’s concepts. Beginning this month, most PBS stations will rebroadcast the highly influential work, Joseph Campbell on Power of Myth With Bill Moyers. This documentary is a series of interviews between Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers. You may also be interested in the film Finding Joe (available on Netflix) featuring interviews with 20 visionaries including Rashida Jones, Catherine Hardwicke, and Sir Ken Robinson that show “how Campbell’s work is relevant and essential in today’s world and how it provides a narrative for how to live a fully realized life.”

Maybe Campbell will help you find your own bliss. You are, after all, the hero of your own journey.

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CC by 2.0 Flickr photostream of Lance Neilson

Laura is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm notable only for its lovestruck goose.