With the start of a new term, we’ve been thrown in straight to the fire with the task of a brief 6 minute presentation on ‘The Writer’s Journey’ by Christopher Vogler, based on the work of Joseph Campbell. Our group consists of Lydia, Maggie and Rachael, I had never worked with them before but I can already tell we’re doing some great teamwork, everyone is very friendly and I’m really enjoying the comfortable atmosphere. Each group was given a few chapters from the novel to present, describing the different aspects of narrative not only within film but for writers interested in the subject. The chapters featured in our presentation include ‘Crossing the First Threshold’, ‘Tests, Allies and Enemies’ and ‘Approach to the Inmost Cave.’ As a group we decided to separate which chapter each person should tackle and then combine the sections into the presentation, it seemed to be more efficient in presenting the given information.
It was my job to analyse the chapter ‘Tests, Allies and Enemies’ to deconstruct Vogler’s concept and present my own opinions and examples on the matter. I was fortunate to have seen two films recently that fit in perfectly to this topic that I was excited to talk about, one relating to what Vogler had said, and the other contrasting.
Left – Moana (2016) – http://movies.disney.co.uk/moana
Right – Black Balloon (2008) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0865297/
I had learned a lot from this chapter and how common the narrative structure Vogler has mentioned is in almost every film I’ve seen, almost as if every film who’s concept I thought was original was actually a lie! From the contrast between the hero’s home and the world they must adventure out in to, or the types of characters the hero’s will encounter throughout the film through a succession of challenges.
However through my research and knowledge of the two film’s I gave as examples, it was constantly dwelling on my mind to try and find some contradictions in Vogler’s work, so I can see both sides of the argument. That way I could give my own opinions on his writings more so than just relaying what I’ve read. To do this I took my favourite film, ‘Black Balloon’ (2008) and tried to compare Vogler’s ideas of categorising characters under good vs bad or hero’s vs villains. Then I discussed the more complicated type of relationships presented in the film along the themes of disability, and how all characters in the narrative show good and bad traits. Nobody in the movie could be considered a hero or villain because real life isn’t as simple as that.
I must admit, even though I had presented before, I’m very anxious about speaking out in front of the class and my lecturers again. I really want to learn how to present myself professionally, and not only read out information from cue cards, that is why this time (reluctantly) I will leave behind my cards and try to present from memory. The main concern of mine is my breathing, if I focus too much on one thing I forget how to breathe and my body automatically starts shaking, but I hope that the more I practice, the more my stage fright will subside.
Today was the day of presentations and as a group, we relentlessly practised over and over again until we felt confident enough to begin presenting up in front of the class. I feel like the day went very successfully, our team worked so hard and I was so happy with the outcome because everyone worked well and encouraged eachother, it was a really nice group dynamic. My nerves, I felt did get the better of me whilst I was presenting because I stuttered and choked up a few times, but I hope I managed to work over those kinks to the best of my ability. I also hope that one day to overcome my fears of public speaking so I’ll be able to present in a more fluid, and comfortable manner, not only for me but for the audience I’m speaking too.
My Presentation Script – Tests, Allies, Enemies
In this chapter, Christopher Vogler discusses the types of relationships protagonists develop when they enter a new world that contrasts greatly from their own, even if the environment looks the same.
In this new environment or scenario, the hero is put under numerous tests in order to prepare for ordeals presented further on in the narrative. During this time the hero establishes who of the residents can or can’t be trusted, a test to see if they are a good judge of character.
Vogler specifically names possible character types the hero will encounter including, Allies, Sidekicks, Enemies, Rivals or even the possibility of forging a team.
What stood out the most to me within this chapter was the tests created in the plot to challenge our hero’s, although it is a common trait in most stories, it is very essential. Especially in regards to character development, not only are these trials used as a medium to prepare the hero for more difficult challenges ahead, but audiences can identify with their reactions. Perfect people with no flaws that pass every test with ease aren’t identifiable amongst modern audience’s, they want to know that they are human and like the average joe, they make mistakes too. For me, audience’s find characters more memorable for the mistakes they make more so than their achievements, because they are more emotionally invested in the narrative.
Films that relate to this
A film that I can connect to the extensive use of trials to develop character is Moana (2016) who had always heard the call for adventure even from a young age, despite having responsibilities to lead her tribe. The reason why this film is the perfect example of how heroes can be tested is that Moana must make the excruciating decision to leave her tribe and head out to the “forbidden” sea to save her people and begin her adventure. To defy the usual conventions of Disney, the chosen animal sidekick was the moronic and hilarious chicken which contrasted with the wiser pig companion that would have been a more obvious choice.
Although Vogler’s theory on characters is very accurate amongst most films, I don’t agree that all characters aside from the protagonist can be defined as friend or foe, sometimes it is more complicated. For example, the film “Black Balloon” (2008) describes the life of a young boy and how he learns to cope with his brother’s mental disability. The illness does test the two-brother’s relationship, but the challenges in this film were not created by villains or enemies, but instead the situations the main character’s innocent brother seemed to find himself in. Regarding this, the older brother learns to accept his siblings’ illness and love him for who he is, shining relationships in a more realistic light in contrast to the fairy tale comparisons of friends and foes provided by Vogler.
The Writer’s Journey – http://www.thewritersjourney.com/
Lydia – https://lydiamcdowell.wordpress.com/