Okay, so it may or may not come to a big surprise to most of you, but I don’t exactly watch a lot of movies. I’m not trying to dog on the people who do enjoy movies, but it feels like, to me, if you’ve seen one good movie, you’ve pretty much seen them all.
Now, you might be somewhat skeptical of my claim, but let me try to explain to you.
What makes a good movie? And really think about that. You might say, talented actors make a movie good! And yes, that plays a role, but I think it just helps it make the movie more believable, rather than inherently good. The reason I say that is because we all know some “bad” movies that had some good actors in it. It’s almost like we know when a movie is bad, even in the face of good actors.
So back to my question, what makes a movie good? The story? Okay, let’s go with that one. What about the story makes it good? You might say, well it just makes sense! And again, what do you mean by that? The movie Sharknado, it had a plot, loosely speaking, that you could argue “made sense”. That didn’t make it a good movie. Even children as young as four and five, and younger, they can identify a good movie. Look at all the Disney movies. Obviously, they’re doing something right.
The point I’m trying to make is, we don’t really know what makes a movie good, not consciously anyways. It’s not until someone actually breaks down the hidden archetypes hidden in the story we realize what’s going on.
So what archetype do many of the movies tend to express?
The hero’s journey.
The hero’s journey is the classic tale of the individual through partly because his own choice, and partly because of fate, is put into a situation where he must face his darkest fears, and is placed in front of a great obstacle he must overcome. The only way he can overcome it is by learning his weaknesses, and intensely working to improve himself, and after all this is, able to defeat the dark enemy who threatened him and his people. When this is all said and done, the main character returns home, but not the same as he was before, but a changed man. A hero.
And you see this in all the great classic movies, especially the Disney movies. One fantastic, almost a poster child for the hero’s journey archetype is The Lion King.
Jordan Peterson has a fantastic lecture on this as well, and would encourage you to listen to it, as he explains it far better than I could ever hope to.
I want to touch on why does the Hero’s Journey resonate with us so well? And it’s simple really, it’s because the Hero’s Journey is our journey.
Take one version of the classic story of the Holy Grail. King Arthur had his three knights at the round table, all of them listening, and he asks them to find the holy grail. The holy grail, as you might know, is more than just a cup, but it’s the cup that redeems humanity. It was the cup Christ drank out of at the last supper. It was the cup that caught the blood as he was pierced on the cross. It was the cup that Christ gave life to, and through his blood, was born again, and if you find that, you have found the thing that allows you to be redeemed.
So all three knights immediately begin looking, and all three knights ask themselves, where should I look first?
The legend was, that the holy grail was hidden in a castle in the deepest, darkest part of the forest. So what do they do? Each knight goes into the forest to the part that looks darkest to them.
And you might say, what does that mean? It means, in order to find the thing that will redeem yourself, then you need to start by looking at the darkest parts of yourself. You need to look at your shadow.
Carl Jung describes this part of ourselves as the “The Shadow,” because it is the dark parts of all of us we keep repressed. Other psychoanalysts, like Freud, called this the Id or Super Id. Today, it is commonly referred to as the “unconscious”. The thing is, we immediately saw truth in what these guys were saying, and today, it seems crazy to even suggest we don’t have an unconscious.
But back to my point, why do we need to look at the darkest parts of ourselves first, if we are to be redeemed?
Because to redeem yourself, you need to first have courage. And the biblical stories especially suggest this as well. Look at David. Look at Abraham. Look at Moses. They all had to take responsibility and develop the courage to go deep into the dark unknown.
This is because it not only redeemed them, but it redeemed all of those around them.
Not everyone is familiar with the biblical stories, but many people have seen the Harry Potter movies. They are fantastic representations of a Hero’s Journey where Harry must journey into the unknown, face his deepest fear, conquer it, and comes back with knowledge he didn’t have prior.
The thing is, he doesn’t just save himself from destruction, but in every movie, he saves himself, his friends, the school, and in some sense, the whole world. What’s even more revealing, you could say, is that in order for Harry to “save the world” he must first break the rules. This means he must go against what is “acceptable” or “comfortable” and put himself in a situation where not only could he get in serious trouble, but could also mess up tremendously.
Now, I’m not saying you’re going to make decisions that will save the fate of humanity, but I am saying you can do something akin to on a micro level.
How you ask?
When you start doing things that are better for you, oddly enough, they are better for everyone else. When you start treating yourself better, you begin to treat others better.
When you wake up and become the hero in your own life, you save your world and the world of those closest to you.
So go on, find your dark forest.
thanks for reading,
Everything was right until the end. You have not touched the shadow yet.
I agree for the most part. I believe we can’t touch the “shadow” necessarily, but merely listen to it, and react to its presence. But we need to be aware of it’s presence.
thanks for the comment.