Transformational Narrative:
Hero's Journey
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HERO'S JOURNEY

Mythology and the Hero’s Journey became pervasive throughout film culture and history as generation after generation turned to Joseph Campbell and The Hero with a Thousand Faces. With his guidance, countless filmmakers have come to see image as symbolic, character as archetypal, and narrative as mythic. In addition to deepening entertaining stories into profound narratives, this has helped filmmakers translate inner psychological experience into something a camera can see. We are fortunate today that the Joseph Campbell Foundation has partnered with Studio Institute Global in Los Angeles to bring the depths of this master’s insights into the hands of students and filmmakers within the community.
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Mythology and the Hero’s Journey became pervasive throughout film culture and history as generation after generation turned to Joseph Campbell and The Hero with a Thousand Faces. With his guidance, countless filmmakers have come to see image as symbolic, character as archetypal, and narrative as mythic. In addition to deepening entertaining stories into profound narratives, this has helped filmmakers translate inner psychological experience into something a camera can see. We are fortunate today that the Joseph Campbell Foundation has partnered with Studio Institute Global in Los Angeles to bring the depths of this master’s insights into the hands of students and filmmakers within the community.
Hands up if you’ve heard this story before: A lonely hero who is trying to find himself. A sudden and unexpected journey, promising adventure and peril. A test of character, strength, and skill. An ultimate battle that tests the hero’s resolve. A triumphant return home.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because this exact narrative template has inspired countless stories from ancient myths to modern television shows and movies. This template is known as the “monomyth”—or, colloquially, the hero’s journey.
In narratology and comparative mythology, the hero's journey, or the monomyth, is the common template of stories that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home changed or transformed.

Earlier figures had proposed similar concepts, including psychologist Otto Rank and amateur anthropologist Lord Raglan, who discuss hero narrative patterns in terms of Freudian psychoanalysis and ritualism. Eventually, hero myth pattern studies were popularized by Joseph Campbell, who was influenced by Carl Jung's analytical psychology. Campbell used the monomyth to deconstruct and compare religions. In his famous book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), he describes the narrative pattern as follows:
Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, developed in Hero With A Thousand Faces, describes the common heroic narrative in which a heroic protagonist sets out, has transformative adventures, and returns home. It is a useful formula for comparing literary traditions across time and culture.

Here, ORIAS provides resources to explore and compare three different works through the lens of the Monomyth: Mali's Sunjata, South Asia's Ramayana, and Japan's Yamato.
Nearly four decades before Joseph Campbell (March 26, 1904–October 30, 1987) refined his enduring ideas on how to find your bliss and have fulfilling life, the legendary mythologist penned The Hero with a Thousand Faces (public library) — his seminal theory outlining the common journey of the archetypal hero across a wealth of ancient myths from around the world. Campbell’s monomyth model has since been applied to everything from the lives of great artists to pop-culture classics like Star Wars.
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