There’s no magic formula for telling a great story, obviously. If there were, every story would be a great story, and thus no stories would be great, and we as a society would have to retire stories. (#RIP) Despite the sheer number of false prophets peddling their thoughts on writing a blockbuster screenplay, there has been one philosophical breakdown of the common elements of successful stories that has withstood the test of time. In Joseph Campell’s seminal 1949 treatise, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, he explained the Hero’s Journey, the monomyth whose DNA is a part of pretty much every classic story. Many scholars, novelists, and screenwriters continue to vouch for its enduring truth, and now a film student has translated it for a new generation.
Netherlands-based filmmaker Iskander Krayenbosch decided to dabble in Campbell for his graduation project for the University HKU. His project, simply titled The Hero’s Journey, is a stylish two-minute animated film that deftly demonstrates the 12 steps prescribed within each journey. The video uses faceless versions of characters from hallowed films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars to show how steps like Meeting the Mentor and Crossing the Threshold are integrated into plots again and again in different ways. The Hero’s Journey boils down Campbell’s ideas into their most essential forms, and reveals just how prescient they were.
Watch Krayenbosch’s film in full below: