One joy of wandering around the blog-o-sphere is the fact that some of my favorite creators are on-line and pontificating daily, weekly, or monthly. One of my daily stops through cyberspace is Gurney Journey, the website of James Gurney, the artist best known for his series of Dinotopia books and his illustrations in National Geographic.
On Thursday, March 22, Gurney had an entry that linked to the blog site FILM CRIT HULK. This posting from the presumably green-skinned cinematic critic is a critique of the Hero’s Journey as used in film.
The Hulk’s posting is long, but well worth a read.
His ramblings reminded me of a ceditra entry that I wrote in July of last year. While it doesn’t necessarily deal with the Hero’s Journey, it does talk about recycled plot lines, a subject I’ve posted about before (such as here and here).
My random method (rated G for all audiences) for finding source material to write my ceditra entries on landed me on the Bible where I started with this quote…
“Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee” -Matthew 4:12
This part of the first Gospel happens after Jesus is tempted in the desert by Satan, but before Jesus finds his first disciple. We’re early in the story of Jesus’s development and his narrative takes a necessary turn for his evolution from a hapless carpenter to a fisher of men: he needs to get out of Dodge. In addition, he needs to lose his mentor. Every “Great One” has a teacher who finds the untrained pupil and educates him (seems to always be a “him”, eh?) in the ways of whatever it is he needs to be schooled in.
Then, once the lessons are over, the pupil has to leave. Usually, and often for dramatic effect, this departure takes place due to some act of violence done against the teacher. This causes the pupil to strike out on his own and find his destiny armed with his newly gained knowledge.
In this case, our hero’s mentor, John the Baptist, is jailed (and later beheaded) and Jesus decided that his best course of action is to hit the road.
Being away from it all and being on one’s own is a classic plot line in literature, but it seems to run strong in religion. Moses hightailed it out of Egypt (okay, technically he was exiled, but the point remains valid) and Mohammed retreated to a cave to meditate before hitting his stride as the final Prophet. Buddha took time off from his rich and comfortable life (heck, he actually left it all behind) and I’m sure if I looked hard enough, I could find a similar motif in Hinduism.
Why is that?
Why is it so important for the hero to go away before coming back?
Can you do a story without this journey?
Since I have read The Hulk’s piece, I can also add the following question to my list of queries that ended my ceditra entry.
Can you do a hero’s story without the hero’s journey malarkey?