DOI: 10.18536/jge.2017., Vogler

Jump to: Journal of Genius and Eminence | Volume 2 Issue 2

Joseph Campbell Goes to the Movies: The Influence of the Hero’s Journey in Film Narrative

Christopher Vogler
Hollywood Story Consultant, Author, Screenwriter

Vogler, C. (2017). Joseph Campbell Goes to the Movies: The Influence of the Hero’s Journey in Film Narrative. Journal of Genius and Eminence, 2(2), 9-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.18536/jge.2017.

The influence of Joseph Campbell and his monomyth model on film narratives and motifs first became apparent forty years ago with the release of the first film in George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise in 1977. This article traces the wide adoption of Campbell’s ideas as tools for shaping movie stories and characters, due to the popularity of Star Wars and other fantasy adventure franchises cast in the Campbell monomyth mold, and the growing awareness of screenwriters, directors and studio executives that the hero’s journey is an effective tool for story development in any genre. Campbell’s original statement of the monomyth is compared with Christopher Vogler’s model of the hero’s journey, specifically designed for screenwriters. The article establishes that in either form, the monomyth/hero’s journey has been widely adopted by screenwriters, playwrights and designers of games and theme park rides to give their creations some of the epic feeling of myths. Key work in which Campbell’s hero’s journey was consciously applied are discussed, and criticisms of the hero’s journey as a narrative template are addressed. Some reasons for the pattern’s enduring appeal for audiences are suggested.