Just seen images of different cinemas (London and Paris) with young people waiting since as early as 3 am for the early show.
Is it a mania? A fad created by the western society in these past forty years? After all, we all contributed with some coins to the amazing 33 bil $ that the franchise amassed from its films, comics, cartoons and merchandises issued under the brand. On October 31, 2012, George Lucas’s selling of his Star Wars over to Disney for 4. 05 billion dollars made waves in the media – it’s not a current event in the movie industry, not in any other industry, but, obviously, it’s been worth it: six parts already and people around the world are still hugely interested. Why would Disney be so interested in buying this particular movie, and why the elevated price? What is it that makes this one stand out among all the other successful movies?
True, Star Wars stands out by its enormously successful previous six parts because we are all caught up in this Hero Archetype. With the rise of the ego and of individualism, the hero season is in full swing. Is it good? Is it bad? Like sharp cutting tools, like electricity and nuclear energy, it all depends on what we do with it. On what kind of hero each one of us we choose to be.
If you don’t believe my story, here are the facts. Not many would care to know, but Lucas acknowledges his source of inspiration to Campbell’s 1949 book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. He just came upon it right in the middle of his first draft of the Star Wars, so his genius idea was to import the ancient myths from that rich mass of myth and folklore and dress them into the modern dress of the 20th C (and now 21st ) cinematography special effects.
In The Hero With a Thousand Faces Campbell first introduced his theory of the Monomyth, a concentrate of all the hero journeys from the world’s literatures and religions, capturing in it the essential moments, challenges and initiation stages taken by heroes of all ages and cultures found in world mythologies. Campbell elaborated extensively on the hero archetype and on the archetypal journey of trials and transformation, this caught the attention of Christopher Vaugler in Hollywood, so much so that no story or heroic movie ever gets to be born in the movie industry unless it follows to the letter ‘s Vaugler’s textbook for screenwriters –Writer’s Journey – Mythical Structure for Writers, conceived, of course, as a writers’ guide into Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.(see https://chrisvogler.wordpress.com/)
The story structure of Star Wars is, of course, the journey of the archetypal hero, in many ways our own story: on our path through life we all go through trials and transformation, and this is what gives it the special appeal it has over audiences around the world. The hero in us cannot fail to identify him/herself with the universal hero pattern – whatever the background, living situation and the nature of our aspirations. We all get to go through the same many aspects of the human experience and this is what we all look for when we go to the cinema or start reading a new book – which explains why we are so attracted to fiction in the first place – because it is real.
So, here we go down the ideation thread: from Lucas we go to Campbell, who, in turn, acknowledges two ideators as his source of inspiration: Jung and Joice. Campbell met Jung in person when he traveled to Bollingen, Switzerland, especially for him, and in his book Pathways to Bliss he introduces Jung’s “constituents of the soul” – the archetypes, to the American readership: anima/animus, the shadow, the ego-consciousness.
Also “monomyth” is not Campbell’s own term, but is has been coined by James Joyce in Finnegan’s Fin, inspired, in turn, by the German Adolf Bastian’s pioneering idea of “psychic unity of the mind”.
Not many have heard of him, and probably if not for Joyce’s and Jung’s acknowledgments, his name may be forgotten. In the true spirit of a Renaissance man, Bastian used his extensive knowledge and his direct experience (gained through exploring the populations and mythologies of the world along his extensive voyages around the world as a ship doctor) to come up with an unheard of, complex and unifying theory.
In Lucas terms our road of trials awakens us to our communion with The Force, the one that supports us in our eternal battle against the Darkness, mostly the one inside ourselves. In Jung terms, the hero is a symbol of the Self where the human part in us aspires to its communion with the divine part in us, after having had integrated all our parts of shadow.
Finally, there is one more aspect to the genesis of the Star Wars, the continuity of transmission, and ultimately, our communion of unity, our oneness. In spite of what copyright and anti-piracy laws claiming exclusive ownership on any individual work, in fact no idea and no work of man has ever been just the result of that one man’s (or woman’s) work or idea – it comes from many sources.
We have in Star Wars a happy instance of a conducive thread – think that, without the strenuous work of all these people, we wouldn’t have felt the need and impulse to skip work today, wake up before sunset, or no sleep all together, only to watch Star Gates’ The Last Jedi.
Could it be that this effort is just another challenge on our individual Road of Trials to becoming heroes?