Aristotle in Hollywood and more

Looking into “The hero with a thousand faces“, the book that “The writer’s journey” is based on, revealed a deep connection to the philosophical work of Carl Jung. Most relevant in this context is the work Jung has done in comparative religion. He studied and was interested in understanding the “relationship of the individual to the world, to people and things.” Jung believed the cause of one’s behaviour to be characterised by past experiences and future aspirations. (Good information for character development) He described a few universal archetypes:

– persona or social mask

– anima/animus which represents the feminine present in males and the masculine present in females

– shadow, the animal aspect of humans

– self

   In “The Undiscovered Self” he argued that many of the problems of modern life are caused by “man’s progressive alienation from his instinctual foundation”. Researching myths and legends, he noticed patterns that to him confirmed the existence of a collective consciousness. Jung’s work led to the development of modern personality theory.

   Doing a bit more research, I came across another book, “Aristotle in Hollywood” written by Ari Hiltunen which I managed to get out in time from the university’s library. Turns out that the preface was written by none other than Chris Vogler. He mentions his own book, The Writer’s Journey” and refers to it as “an attempt to ‘translate’ Campbell’s academic theories into a practical guidebook”. He then talks about meeting Hiltunen and this is where it becomes very clear that Hiltunen took a great deal of inspiration from Vogler, even though “he had ideas of his own” and based his book on Aristotle’s “Poetics“.

   Hiltunen makes a good point out of something that I realised myself while reading Vogler’s work, which is that European films transitioned into an art form instead of becoming internationally acclaimed blockbusters, due to not following the established rules and structure used in Hollywood.

   Looking at how other cultures may perceive the elements of a hero’s journey, I found that according to T.R. Fehrenbach, the Amerindians saw “very little honour” in death, however heroic. The sacrifice of an expendable friend or martyrdom would have a different impact on them as the audience. On the opposite end we have feudal Japan and the practice of Seppuku, the samurai ritual of committing suicide with the purpose of restoring lost honour.

Defeated or dishonored samurai who chose surrender rather than suicide often found themselves reviled by society.”


Fehrenbach, T.R. (2011) Comanches: The history of a people. Available at: (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

(No Date) Available at: (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Hiltunen, A. and Hiltinen, A. (2001) Aristotle in Hollywood: The anatomy of successful storytelling. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books.

Luomala, K. and Campbell, J. (1950) ‘The hero with a Thousand faces’, The Journal of American Folklore, 63(247), p. 121. doi: 10.2307/537371.

MartiniF (2016) The honorable death: Samurai and suicide in feudal Japan. Available at: (Accessed: 5 February 2017).


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