Monday, 13 February 2012

"Finding Joe" - the documentary

Joseph Campbell
You've heard of Joseph Campbell, the bloke who wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces back in 1949. He is the person most closely associated with the phrase which has become the standard description of a story in screenwriting circles: The Hero's Journey

Campbell's work (and, no, I'm not buying into the debate about who first did what, when) was massaged and recycled by Christopher Vogler in his book The Writer's Journey

Now we have a documentaryFinding Joewritten, produced and directed by Patrick Takaya Solomon, a guy who spent many years directing commercials and action sports films dealing with snowboarding, motocross, skateboarding, etc. It was Campbell's book that first inspired Solomon to become a director. 

Years later he decided to make this documentary. It is not a biography. It doesn't provide any critical perspective on Campbell's life and work. Instead it consists of a series of interviews and dramatizations of what some people believe could be the practical application of Campbell's theories in real life. 

    IMDb    Website    YouTube   


Kathy said...

But Henry, when you say "Campbell's work (and, no, I'm not buying into the debate about who first did what, when)" you are perpetuating the moviemaker's myth that Campbell was the original proposer of mythic structure.
Campbell stood on the shoulders of giants.
It was Josef and Wilhelm Grimm who spearheaded a worldwide study of folk tales. They did it to conserve German heritage because they were under occupation by the French at the time, but they became increasingly fascinated by the stories themselves. European society was rebelling from Classicism and entering the century of the Romantic period, with writers increasingly exulting individuals instead of God.
The term 'hero' originally referred to a demigod but by the time Thomas Carlyle gave lectures on heroes in 1840, a hero was a great man who had helped shape his world. Carlyle's hero was 'a flowing light-fountain...of ...original insight, of manhood and heroic nobleness.'
The Finnish folklorist Antti Aarne created a standard index of story types but it was Russian Vladimir Propp who examined the structure of the stories. Canadian Northrop Frye went further and identified archetypes in myths. I think it's wonderful that the hero's journey is discussed so thoroughly, I just think people should take a little more care in attributing it to Joseph Campbell as if it were his invention.

Henry Sheppard said...

This is what I was hoping to avoid, even if it is nice to see someone make all those learned points.

I was referencing something many people will easily recognise, rather than re-examining history. It was shorthand. Anyway, most of us don't care which long-dead person gets the credit. Those that do should feel free to substitute whichever version leaves them feeling most comfortable.