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July 09, 2009

Monomyth at the Multiplex

Apparently I have paid to see the same story in slightly different contexts, several times over. The story below comes from Brandon Root at

Academically, the story is an example of the Monomyth, most recently developed by Joseph Campbell and popularized by poet Robert Bly. I have enjoyed reading both Campbell and Bly. Campbell comes at it from a narrative perspective, and Bly comes from more of a men's studies practice.

Color Coding: Star Wars: blue    Star Trek: brown   
The Matrix: green     Harry Potter: grey

Plot of the Monomyth

Once upon a time,Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry was living a miserable life. Feeling disconnected from his friends and family, he dreams about how his life could be different. One day, he is greeted by Obi Wan | Captain Pike | Trinity | Hagrid and told that his life is not what it seems, and that due to some circumstances surrounding his birth | birth | birth | infancy he was meant for something greater.

Deciding to leave with him | him | her | him, Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry is taken to Mos Eisley | Starfleet Academy | the real world | Hogwarts where he meets lots of new, fascinating people. For the first time in a very long time, life is exciting, and Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry explores the new life that has opened up for him.

With his new friends, he starts to work hard to become the sort of man that
Obi Wan | Captain Pike | Trinity | Hagrid said he could be. Although Han | Spock | the Oracle | Draco challenges his abilities, things go relatively well until suddenly, Alderaan is destroyed | Vulcan is attacked | Morpheus is captured | Voldemort returns.

Leaping into action,Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry prepares to fight against the insistence of his teacher. Despite not having finished his training, the lessons have made him cocky and through a combination of skill and luck Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry is able to beat Vader | Nero | Agent Smith | Quirrell and destroy the Death Star | Nero’s ship | the Sentinels | Voldemort’s body.

Greeted as heroes, Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry realizes that he has become powerful with the force | a great leader | the One | a great wizard just as Obi Wan | Captain Pike | Trinity | Hagrid said he would be.

Right before the story ends, there is a sense that this is just the beginning of an extremely lucrative franchise. Er, I mean adventure.


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