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.”

References:

Fehrenbach, T.R. (2011) Comanches: The history of a people. Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=J5P5HNNUuvUC&q=honor#v=snippet&q=honor&f=false (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

(No Date) Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/articles/analytical-psychology/89-jung-and-philosophy (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: http://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/honorable-death-samurai-and-suicide-feudal-japan-005822 (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

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Vogler personal notes

My notes from the chapters “The road back” and “Resurrection”

“The road back” covers:

Motivation – the reason why the road back exists in the first place

Retaliation – the villain’s one last strike

Chase scenes – the hero/villain chasing the other one last time

Magic flight – where the hero abandons the fight in order to regroup

Villain escape – because of various reasons the villain manages to escape

Setbacks – something unexpected happens that makes the audience doubt the hero’s success


“Resurrection” covers:

A New Personality

Cleansing

Two Great Ordeals

The Active Hero

Showdowns

Death and Rebirth of Tragic Heroes

Choice

Climax

Catharsis

Character Arch

Last Chance

Proof

Sacrifice

Incorporation

Change

   In the introduction of the book, Vogler acknowledges the artistry of films that go against the structure he lays down, pointing out that as a downside it would limit the audience. He mentions that “The Writer’s Journey” is meant to be used as reference, as guideline, not as an actual formula and that using it as a rigid formula would make projects predictable, therefore boring. In order to keep the plot interesting he suggests adding a fresh view on familiar places which reminded me of how the play writer William Shakespeare was presented in the comic novel “The Sandman“. Here (← Click) is a deconstruction of the twist Neil Gaiman put on the story of Shakespeare’s genius.

   When I think about effective presentations, TED talks come to mind. Naturally, that was the first place I looked at for additional information on the subject of storytelling in movies in order to create a context for Christopher Vogler’s book.

Below: Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story

   While Stanton doesn’t talk about the general structure of a plot, he highlights a few important points from films he worked on, that he believes to have contributed to their success. As key elements he mentions the importance of dynamic action, character development and giving clues to the audience in order to peak their interest and arouse curiosity.

   While looking at classical examples of a hero’s road back, I remembered reading a great book that did not have that at all. “The Double” by Jose Saramago was a captivating piece of writing that had its protagonist stay in the special world and ultimately become that special world for another character. This shows that it is possible to create a compelling plot outside of the standard structure.

Something that Vogler does not talk about is the importance of the medium used to present different stories. Various mediums appeals to various people and in recent years the gaming industry has been slowly growing into one of the most popular ways of conveying stories. Here (←Click) is an article presenting the power of storytelling through games. I feel it is important in this context to also mention the company Telltale which has produced extraordinarily captivating plots for their products.

References:

Gaiman, N. (2010) The Sandman volume 3: Dream country. New York: Vertico/DC Comics.

 Shakespeare in The Sandman: Two Worlds Colliding (2010) Available at: http://ler.letras.up.pt/uploads/ficheiros/7539.pdf (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Saramago, J., Portuguese, the and Costa, M.J. (2005) The double. Orlando, FL: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Stanton, A. (2012) The clues to a great story. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story#t-803940 (Accessed: 7 February 2017).

“The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler – research pt.2

 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.”

References:

 

Fehrenbach, T.R. (2011) Comanches: The history of a people. Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=J5P5HNNUuvUC&q=honor#v=snippet&q=honor&f=false (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

(No Date) Available at: http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/articles/analytical-psychology/89-jung-and-philosophy (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: http://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/honorable-death-samurai-and-suicide-feudal-japan-005822 (Accessed: 5 February 2017).

“The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler – research pt.1

My notes from the chapters “The road back” and “Resurrection”


“The road back” covers:

Motivation – the reason why the road back exists in the first place

Retaliation – the villain’s one last strike

Chase scenes – the hero/villain chasing the other one last time

Magic flight – where the hero abandons the fight in order to regroup

Villain escape – because of various reasons the villain manages to escape

Setbacks – something unexpected happens that makes the audience doubt the hero’s success


“Resurrection” covers:

A New Personality

Cleansing

Two Great Ordeals

The Active Hero

Showdowns

Death and Rebirth of Tragic Heroes

Choice

Climax

Catharsis

Character Arch

Last Chance

Proof

Sacrifice

Incorporation

Change

   In the introduction of the book, Vogler acknowledges the artistry of films that go against the structure he lays down, pointing out that as a downside it would limit the audience. He mentions that “The Writer’s Journey” is meant to be used as reference, as guideline, not as an actual formula and that using it as a rigid formula would make projects predictable, therefore boring. In order to keep the plot interesting he suggests adding a fresh view on familiar places which reminded me of how the play writer William Shakespeare was presented in the comic novel “The Sandman“. Here (← Click) is a deconstruction of the twist Neil Gaiman put on the story of Shakespeare’s genius.

   When I think about effective presentations, TED talks come to mind. Naturally, that was the first place I looked at for additional information on the subject of storytelling in movies in order to create a context for Christopher Vogler’s book.

Below: Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story

   While Stanton doesn’t talk about the general structure of a plot, he highlights a few important points from films he worked on, that he believes to have contributed to their success. As key elements he mentions the importance of dynamic action, character development and giving clues to the audience in order to peak their interest and arouse curiosity.

   While looking at classical examples of a hero’s road back, I remembered reading a great book that did not have that at all. “The Double” by Jose Saramago was a captivating piece of writing that had its protagonist stay in the special world and ultimately become that special world for another character. This shows that it is possible to create a compelling plot outside of the standard structure.

Something that Vogler does not talk about is the importance of the medium used to present different stories. Various mediums appeals to various people and in recent years the gaming industry has been slowly growing into one of the most popular ways of conveying stories. Here (←Click) is an article presenting the power of storytelling through games. I feel it is important in this context to also mention the company Telltale which has produced extraordinarily captivating plots for their products.

References:

Gaiman, N. (2010) The Sandman volume 3: Dream country. New York: Vertico/DC Comics.

Shakespeare in The Sandman: Two Worlds Colliding (2010) Available at: http://ler.letras.up.pt/uploads/ficheiros/7539.pdf (Accessed: 4 February 2017).

Saramago, J., Portuguese, the and Costa, M.J. (2005) The double. Orlando, FL: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Stanton, A. (2012) The clues to a great story. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story#t-803940 (Accessed: 7 February 2017).