An Approach to Independent 3D Animation Production
Bachelor of Arts in Design (with 1st Class Honours)
Part 1 - Theoretical Research
Chapter 3 - The Principles of Storytelling
3.1 What is Storytelling, Story and Narrative?
Both Mello (2001, [Online]) and Woolf (1998, [Online]) attest to the antiquity of storytelling by stating that 'storytelling is one of the oldest, if not the oldest method of communicating ideas and images', and 'the real oldest profession in human society is storytelling', respectively. Simply put, storytelling is the telling, or communication of a story. Storytelling is a 'creative art form that has entertained and informed across centuries and cultures' (Fisher qtd. in Aiex 1988, [Online]). Wells (1998, p. 68) explains a technical and structural definition of story by stating:
The idea of 'a story' may be understood as a sequence of events taking place over a particular period of time. These narrative events are informed by a chain of causes and effects, both subtle and explicit, the ultimate outcome of which is a specified moment of resolution (Wells 1998, p. 68).
Both Wells (1998, p. 68) and Kerlow (2000, p. 279) suggest that the sequence of narrative events can be structured in a number of different ways from a straightforward linear pattern from beginning to end, to a non-linear order of events.
A story can be told or communicated any number of different ways. In addition to a linguistic and/or literary activity, communicating a story can encompass forms such as non-verbal and visual communication. Storytelling and the Arts (2002, [Online]) mentions that throughout history, stories have been told not only orally by word of mouth, but have incorporated the arts; visuals, pictures, paintings, music, song, ceremony, theatre, re-enactment, dance, puppetry and many other forms. More recently, one could also add film and animation to that list.
The Angus & Robertson Dictionary and Thesaurus (1992, p. 989) states that story is 'a narration of a chain of events told or written in prose or verse'. Fiske et al. qtd. in Narrative (2002, [Online]) points out that story 'is the irreducible substance of a story (A meets B, something happens, order returns), while narrative is the way the story is related (Once upon a time there was a princess...)'. Narrative (2002, [Online]) asserts that narrative, in a media sense, 'is the coherence/organisation given to a series of facts'. Richardson (1990) declares that narrative is present all around us in society, in forms such as; myths, legends, short stories, epics, history, tragedy, comedy, books, journal articles, magazines, conversations, jokes, films, and animations.
Richardson (1990) also points out that people link events though narrative. 'Narrative is the primary way through which humans organise their experiences into temporarily meaningful episodes' (Polkinghorne qtd. in Richardson 1990). In order to make sense of things, 'the human mind needs narrative' (Narrative 2002, [Online]). Rosen qtd. in Aiex (1988, [Online]) states that storytelling is 'probably the oldest form of narrative in the world'.
3.2 The Relationship Between Storytelling and Animation
From the social comment of the Eastern European communist period animation, to the entertainment premise of American Disney style animation and Japanese Anime; although they may be visually and stylistically different, what they all have in common is they are communicating and telling a story to an audience (Domain Expert 2003).
Animators are storytellers, as Wells (1998), Kerlow (2000) and Lubin (2003) all attest. Kerlow (2000, p. 279) makes the point that the reason animator's should be interested in learning about storytelling is 'because animations are more than just moving images'. 'Animations tell stories and communicate emotions' (Kerlow 2000, p. 279). Wells (1998, p. 68) adds that the medium of animation makes available 'a multiplicity of styles and approaches' in the telling of the story and/or expression of these particular thoughts and emotions. Animation also allows the presentation of a story to employ a wide variety of both established and unique narrative strategies (Wells 1998, p. 68).
Belgian animator Raoul Servais qtd. in Wells (1998, p. 68) believes no matter what methodology is employed in the construction of an animated film, and how short it is, 'it should always have a story of some sort'. 'Stories are the essence of animation' (Kerlow 2000, p. 279).
The paramount importance of a good story in animation cannot be over-emphasised, as both Kelly (1998) and Lubin (2003) attest, Kelly (1998, p. 11) stating that 'a good story, even if it is very small, is crucial to a successful animation'. In an interview conducted with Tom Lubin, Head of Training at FTI, responding to questions on the importance of storytelling in relation to animation, makes the point that it does not matter what the visual interpretation of the story is, what style it employs, if it is realistic, or abstract or not. 'Any of those can be successful, but they have to have a good story' (Lubin 2003).
When asking Lubin (2003) if the teaching of storytelling is emphasised enough in animation education, in relation to his research, he pointed out that the education and training of the early stages of the animation process, are not emphasised enough as far as he can see. He suggests that it is critical that animators need to know how scripts are constructed, understand story, story structure, meaning and characters, and have the ability to tell and deliver a story to an audience. One of the main points behind the Certificate IV in Screen (Animation) course, that he himself helped to establish, is that it provides an educative emphasis on animated storytelling and narrative animation.
One of the initial motives behind studying the animation process (explained in the Background) was the fact that storytelling (and various other early animation process elements) was not included in my formal design education.
Both Kelly (1998) and Lubin (2003) attest to the importance of story in relation to audience success. Kelly (1998, p. 11) states that:
If you want clients, employers, or any other audience to pay attention to your animation, make sure you are telling an interesting story. A series of brief, unrelated clips, is simply not going to hold the reviewer's attention as well as good, coherent story built around an engaging character (1998, p. 11).
Kelly (1998, p. 11) also suggests that 'every good story must have a premise', which is also crucial to pitching the story. Lubin (2003) also states that in the pitching process when acquiring funding money and selling a concept, the strength of the story is vitally important. See Chapter 4: Funding a Film or Animation Project.
An interesting example, documenting the importance of story in animation, is in the case of the 3D animated super-realistic sci-fi action adventure Final Fantasy. Lynch (2002, p. 7) attests how the technically superior and visually stunning Final Fantasy failed to click with the audience due to the storyline and selective first-look audience. Lynch (2002, p. 7) states that when released, the film was 'universally acclaimed as a technical masterpiece' but ended as a financial failure losing money; the amount of money is cost to make ($US145 million) being greater than was recouped at the worldwide box office ($US104 million).
The film, based on a popular and profitable computer game series, 'had everything needed for a big success except a brilliant storyline and a brilliant script' (Domain Expert qtd. in Lynch 2002, p. 7). The main point raised with this discussion is that pretty pictures and marvellous superficial eye candy alone are not a guarantee that audiences will flock to see the film and embrace the storyline.
Lubin (2003) commenting on the argument agrees, stating that Final Fantasy had a 'ghastly story', not being reflective of something the audience really wanted to see. Lubin (2003) states that 'the story to engage the audience is absolutely essential', in the case of Final Fantasy, audience engagement on a wide scale was not apparent.
Lubin (2003) believes that a much more interesting case of story development in an animated film is evident in The Emperor's New Groove. He states that many animation projects contain a character that is initially a villain, who transforms and ultimately becomes a 'good guy' (a Shapeshifter character archetype). See section 3.7 Universal Storytelling Formula - The Principles of Mythical Storytelling and Character Archetypes. He points out that way the story was developed in the film, the Emperor character who is initially a villain, waits too long in the story to become the hero, therefore the audience gave up on it. This illustrates the point again of the importance of the understanding of storytelling an animator needs to have, in order to fully captivate and hold interest with the audience.
Wells (1998, p. 68) in relation to narrative structure, states that due to the nature of the medium, animation has the capability to introduce 'symbolic and metaphoric effects' within a story. Lubin (2003) concludes similarly, stating that animation is 'about being able to tell the story, through an object'. He states that sometimes an audience won't accept a particular story being told to them though a human actor, they will only accept it from an animated character, puppet or object. Animation allows a 'representation of an idea', the animated characters, puppets and objects being 'representations of the things that people want to tell about life' (Lubin 2003).
3.3 The Purpose of Story
Stories and narrative can be communicated through many forms and mediums, including animation, as pointed out earlier on in the last chapter. But what is a story, and what is its purpose? Mello (2001, [Online]) states that stories in general 'characterise and define identity, for both individuals and groups'. Kerlow (2000, p. 279) states that 'stories are the most common and most powerful vehicle we use to talk about life'. 'Stories communicate facts, Stories provide answers to questions. Stories make us feel different emotions. Stories sometimes even provoke actions that shape reality' (Kerlow 2000, p. 279). Rubie (1996, p. 11) simply states that the main function of a story, is 'to explore human emotions, values, and beliefs'.
These and other elements have been at the core of stories since the beginning of storytelling, as its roots lie 'in the attempt to explain life or the mysteries of the world and the universe - to try to make sense out of things (Tway qtd. in Aiex 1988, [Online]).
Storytelling and the Arts (2002, [Online]) explains that in early human history stories were used to try to explain the forces of nature, natural events, weather, atmospheric occurrences, the unknown and the frightening. Other stories told of the supernatural, the spiritual, Gods, Deities and Heroes. They taught people about morality, mortality, the way to live, the way to behave, the way to treat one self and one another, taught the difference between right and wrong, and good and evil. Storytelling and the Arts (2002, [Online]) believes most importantly, that stories reflect upon and help people understand the unpredictable rich tapestry of events and happenings that is life. 'A story promises its audience a dramatic journey that offers resolution and fulfilment of life-like issues, events and human needs' (Johnson 2000, [Online]).
As the above information is the case, it is of no surprise that many stories share a 'basic theme or message that has been passed down through generations' (Storytelling and the Arts 2002, [Online]). The characters, themes, and other elements of the stories of the world 'have become cultural and often cross-cultural archetypes of historic and continuing importance' (Lasser qtd. in Aiex 1988, [Online]).
3.4 Traditional Storytelling
Traditional stories have been preserved and passed onto generation after generation throughout history as Woolf (1998, [Online]), Wolf & Levy (2002, [Online]), Mello (2001, [Online]), Criss (1997, [Online]) and Furniss (1998) point out. Traditional stories 'generally were simple and direct but structured to hold interest' (Furniss 1998, p. 116). Both Wolf & Levy (2002, [Online]) and Mello (2001, [Online]) state that traditional stories were intended for, and popular with, all audiences regardless of age, gender and class. On the popularity of narrative among people, Roland Barthes states:
The narratives of the world are without number…The narrative is present at all times, in all places, in all societies; the history of narrative begins with the history of [hu]mankind; there does not exist, and never has existed, a people without narratives (Barthes qtd. in Richardson 1990).
Woolf (1998, [Online]) states that traditional stories i.e. myths, legends and folktales etc., have stood the test of time, touching 'something very basic to our psyche'. The aforementioned universal functions and reasons for story, discussed in the latter part of last section are of interest to all peoples from all cultures. Saxby (1996, p. 169) explains that the ancient tales demonstrate the universality and ongoing nature of the human condition. Human interest in these universal questions gives a possible explanation why the same re-occurring themes, messages, motifs and character archetypes 'turn up over and over again, in tales from many different cultures' (Woolf 1998, [Online]). In relation to culturally shared archetypal narratives, Writing with Writers (2002, [Online]) states:
When we read these traditional stories from around the world, we find that the things we value most highly, fear most deeply, and hope for most ardently are valued, feared and hoped for by all people. Still, while the same yearnings are expressed, each culture has a unique response made richer by details from its society and the local ecology (Writing with Writers 2002, [Online]).
It is due to these reasons Mello (2001, [Online]) states that traditional stories remain illustrative of collective experiences. Hinting at a reason why story and its many related mediums are as popular today, as they were in the past, Livo & Rietz qtd. in Aiex (1988, [Online]) states that in this modern world, some aspects of humanity have not changed a great deal as the archetypes present in traditional stories still being applicable to us today.
The study of traditional storytelling relates directly to and overlaps into other areas of study, such as history, culture, heritage, psychology and anthropology.
Traditional stories and there culturally shared re-occurring archetypal themes, narratives and characters, were very important in the work of both Carl Jung and mythologist and anthropologist Joseph Campbell, and indeed are the basis of The Principles of Mythical Storytelling and Character Archetypes. These facts will be elaborated upon in section 3.6 Myths and Psychology - Archetypes and the Monomyth, and section 3.7 Universal Storytelling Formula - The Principles of Mythical Storytelling and Character Archetypes.
3.5 Traditional Story Types
As animation and storytelling very often go hand in hand, it would be useful to touch upon traditional story types; myth, legend, folktale and related narratives. There are three important reasons for this: 1) To acquire a greater understanding of storytelling. 2) The practical component of my Honours Project, the animated series Legenda brings to life such narratives (legends). And finally 3) The Principles of Mythical Storytelling and Character Archetypes, which will be discussed in the section 3.7, derive from such original storytelling's of humanity.
3.5.1 What is the Definition of Myth, Legend and Folktale?
Myth, Legend, Folktale, Fairytale, Fable. Furniss (1998, p. 116) comments that 'people unfamiliar with traditional literature will use these terms interchangeably, but in fact each represents a unique form'. Before undertaking a brief study of each of these terms, it is interesting to look at common perceptions of the meaning of each of these terms.
British Studies Web Pages (1999, [Online]) displays information regarding people's perceptions of these terms. British Studies lecturers in Poland were asked what they understood by; 1) Myths, 2) Legends, and 3) Folk and Fairytales. It is also important to point out that the reference treats each of these three narrative forms separately as noted.
Responses by the lectures when they were asked what they understood by 1) Myths were:
- Myths explain natural facts; when something is created by particular circumstances or there is a repeated phenomena, people look for explanations.
- They are a type of narrative which is usually part of popular consciousness, a way of explaining the world which forms part of religious beliefs.
- Myths provide a unifying element for a given society.
- Something popularly thought to be true but which isn't, although it might have an element of truth in it.
- Myths strengthen national identity.
- Myths provide a certain link to the past, a common-sense knowledge of our society; they are stories with a message, part of our cultural heritage.
- A myth is a story from Ancient Greece or Rome connected with the Gods.
- They are based on religious rites and passages and explain spiritual beliefs.
- A myth is an idea people keep in their minds upon which they build their beliefs, such as the idyll of the peaceful British countryside with white churches and so on.
- They are something belonging to the past but have nothing to do with our present life.
- Myths aren't really known in today's society.
- In Poland there are modern myths, such as the idea of America as a place where you can find dollars on the street, or the myth of Britannia. (British Studies Web Pages 1999, [Online])
Responses by the lectures when they were asked what they understood by 2) Legends were:
- A legend is a kind of story which is fictional with elements of truth. Its purpose is to explain the origin of something old, like the 'Devil's Claw' legend from Lublin.
- A fictional story about fictional characters, like Smok Wawelski.
- A common belief related to a certain person or event, like Wanda, Robin Hood, or Boudiccea.
- They explain the origins of towns or places… handed down orally at first, but going through reinterpretation due to the variety of written versions.
- A story circulating amongst people which has roots in truth, but then has its own life which develops over time.
- A type of icon, a type of narrative, a figure of renown or fame who becomes popular in the public imagination, like Marilyn Monroe or the Battle of Grunwald.
- Legends transmit values and cultural heritage. (British Studies Web Pages 1999, [Online])
Responses by the lectures when they were asked what they understood by 3) Folk and Fairytales were:
- A story for children which is never true.
- A fictional story for children with a message.
- It is always about something that never happened and has a happy ending.
- Stories full of magic, princesses, and strange things.
- A blood-curdling story for young children which involves violence, cruelty, horror, and a happy ending for the goodies. (British Studies Web Pages 1999, [Online])
It is interesting to note that British Studies Web Pages (1999, [Online]) grouped Folk and Fairytales as one.
Donna E. Norton, a scholar and writer of children's literature, lists four types of traditional tales; 'folktales (also called fairytales), fables, myths, and legends' (Norton qtd. in Furniss 1998, p. 116). International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature (ed. Hunt 1996) lists and describes 'Tales about Fairies and Fairytales', and 'Folktales' in the same chapter. Myth and Legend are described together in a separate chapter.
It is important to note that in some cases the definitions of these terms, depending on the source, somewhat intersect and overlap with each other, in respect to key elements, themes and structure. For this reason, one could also draw the conclusion that particular traditional stories could be applied to more than one of these terms.
3.5.2 Fairytales, Fables and Folktales
Bottigheimer (1996, p. 152) lists both 'Tales about Fairies' and 'Fairytales' as separate narratives. Bottigheimer (1996, p. 152) states that Tales about Fairies are narratives that exclusively deal with 'the fairy kingdom and elfland; the leprechauns, kobolds, gnomes, elves, and little people'. These stories consist of 'unintelligible actions that often have no moral point and frequently lead to troublingly amoral consequences and conclusions' (Bottigheimer 1996, p.152).
The Angus & Robertson Dictionary and Thesaurus (1992, p. 358) defines a fairytale as 'a story about fairies or other mythical or magical beings'. Bottigheimer (1996, p. 152) on the other hand, describes fairytales in a broader light, stating that:
Fairytales, unlike tales about fairies, more often than not, do not include fairies in their cast of characters and are generally brief narratives in simple language that detail a reversal of fortune, with a rags-to-riches plot that often culminates in a wedding. Magical creatures regularly assist earthly heroes and heroines achieve happiness, and the entire story is usually made to demonstrate a moral point, appended separately…or built into the text (Bottigheimer 1996, p.152).
Relating back to the functions of story, Furniss (1998, p. 117) mentions that traditional literature scholar and Freudian psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim suggests fairytales are perfectly suited to helping a child deal with the traumas of growing up. The elements in the fairytales representing the experiences of childhood. 'By presenting solution to these situations, the fairytale provides a child with a model for coping with his or her fears' (Furniss 1998, p. 117).
Bettelheim qtd. in Mello (2001, [Online]) argues that 'stories are symbolic expressions of the inner experience of development in children', connecting children to 'psychological realities'. Bettelheim adds that traditional stories 'assist children in their psychosocial and imaginative growth', and when they are told to children 'the symbolic patterns these tales display become manifestations of psychological constructs'. Mello (2001, [Online]) also states that both Applebee and Favat, in examining children's reactions to traditional tales, discovered that children 'made connections between the plots and events in books by connecting their own life experiences to that of fictional characters'.
Bottigheimer (1996, p. 161) states that 'the definition of folktales is more fluid that that of fairytales and tales about fairies'. Bottigheimer (1996, p. 161) also states that folktale 'normally embraces a multitude of minor genres', such as 'nonsense tales, aetiologies, jests, burlesques, animal tales and neverending tales'.
Folktales, as well as fables, 'can involve human and animal characters' (Furniss 1998, p. 116). Furniss (1998, p. 116) states that in relation to folktales, 'fables have a clearly defined instructive purpose and include a moral implication or lesson to be learned'. This is collaborated by The Angus & Robertson Dictionary and Thesaurus (1992 p. 355), which defines a fable as 'a short moral story, esp. one with animals as characters'.
Bottigheimer (1996, p. 161) elaborates listing that the cast of characters in a folktale can include dragons, giants, royalty, kings, queens, princes, princesses, romances, wicked mothers and faithful fairies. These elements 'fit into the schema of the modern fairytale, but their sheer length distinguished them from the modern fairytale' (Bottigheimer 1996, p. 161). Woolf (1998, [Online]) suggests that folktales are similar to fairytales, but have fewer fantastic elements to them. Another difference is that 'unlike fairytales, nearly all folktales enjoy a truly ancient literary lineage' (Bottigheimer 1996, p. 162).
Folktales commonly consist of medieval settings and narrate tales of the confrontation of 'small, weak, poor but witty hero against a large, strong, rich, but stupid real or metaphorical giant', a 'penury to esteem' theme which closely resembles fairytales (Bottigheimer 1996, p. 162).
It is also useful to look at the etymological meaning of the term folktale. The Angus & Robertson Dictionary and Thesaurus (1992, p. 573) defines the term folk as 'people in general, esp. those of a particular group or class: country folk', 'A people or tribe' and 'Originating from or traditional to the common people of a country'. 'Folk can refer to any group of people whatsoever who share at least one common factor' (Dundes qtd. in Oring 2002, [Online]). If The Angus & Robertson Dictionary and Thesaurus (1992, p. 1024) defines the term tale as 'a report, narrative or story' and 'One of a group of short stories'. One could put these to definitions together to define folktale; A story originating from and/or traditional to, the common people of a country and/or culture.
Indeed 'the term folk-tale suggests an intimate relationship with the folk', due to its circulation, common knowledge and popularity among a people (Bottigheimer 1996, p. 162). Furniss (1998, p. 117) also states that Folktales 'tend to be cross cultural and have direct equivalents in various cultures, though some are commonly associated with a central disseminating source'.
3.5.3 Myth and Legend
Saxby (1996, p. 167) states that myth and legend are truly multicultural, with all cultures having developed a body of such narratives that have been recorded, preserved, maintained and presented in many different ways and forms throughout history. Saxby (1996, p. 169) states that 'myth and legend perhaps provide the most potent form' of traditional literature, reflecting most heavily upon the aforementioned functions of storytelling, in many instances strongly presenting the culturally shared re-occurring archetypal themes, narratives and characters.
In addition to archetypes, Saxby (1996, p. 169) also states that myth and legend can 'generate linguistic power, stir the imagination, ease anxiety and help bring about inner harmony and much-needed emotional and spiritual wholeness'. It also introduces humanity 'to a diversity of national temperaments and to different ways of confronting universal and ongoing questions about life and human nature' (Saxby 1996, p. 167). Having its genesis in antiquity and reflective of humanities collective and universal thought and questions, 'the loom of myth and legend is seemingly never still', 'a fabric which is both timeless and multicultural' (Saxby 1996, p. 175).
Saxby (1996, p. 170) points out that one of the differences myth and legend has to the previously discussed traditional tales, is that is seems to reflect more on aspects of real life, the characters for instance often 'dogged by misfortune or traits of character'. Saxby (1996, p. 170) also states that myth and legend embodies inherent morals, although 'without being overtly didactic'. But unlike fairy tales, where the protagonist lives happily ever after, the heroes that inhabit myth and legend 'don't necessarily triumph in the end', the choices they make, being more difficult (Saxby 1996, p. 170).
The Angus & Robertson Dictionary and Thesaurus (1992, p. 573) defines legend as 'a popular story handed down from earlier times whose truth has not been ascertained'. Both Myths & Legends on Old Maps (2002, [Online]) and Saxby (1996, p. 168) mention that indeed legend is a story that is traditionally passed down from generation after generation, that is popularly regarded and accepted as historical. Both The Slavs (1984, [video recording]) and Wolf & Levy (2002, [Online]) state that a legend is mid way between historical fact and fiction, Wolf & Levy (2002, [Online]) expanding that legend has 'less of the supernatural and more authenticity than myth'. Indeed legends 'are based on historical events, although are greatly exaggerated stories' (Furniss 1998, p. 116). Saxby (1996, p. 168) stating that with 'the passage of time detail is added' to the tale, 'the protagonist glorified and raised in heroic status'.
In further explanation of the historical fact behind legends, Wolf & Levy (2002, [Online]) states that the protagonists of legends 'supposedly lived and were important to the history of their respective countries' and/or cultures. Saxby (1996, p. 168) further explains that the protagonist, or the principal character in legend, are often heroic and/or of semi-divine origin. Saxby (1996, p. 169) further explains:
They are larger-than-life characters whose exploits have perhaps been romanticised but who for that very reason stir the popular imagination and fulfil an ongoing human need to reverence the spark of nobility within ordinary people (Saxby 1996, p. 169).
Saxby (1996, p. 169) and Wolf & Levy (2002, [Online]) both mention that legends fill the people's urge to worship a star, and attest to the lore of the people. Legends give lasting life to the legendary folk heroes from around the world and serve as expressions of racial, tribal, ethnic, social, regional and national pride and spirit.
In elaborating on a definition stated by The Slavs (1984, [video recording]), and adding my experience of studying history, culture and legend for the practical component of my Honours project; A legend is a narrative that transcends the experiencer into the hazy dimension midway between fact and fiction. A legend in many instances focuses on the origin, genesis, kinfolk and history of a people, giving clues to events and heroes that have been lost in past. They are messages from our ancestors. Many legends can always be put in a historical context, a certain chronological order in time, and contain much factual information, some of which represent and relate directly to an actual physical event, person, place or landmark.
Saxby (1996, p. 166) states that 'while folk and fairytale, myth, legend and epic hero tales are all threads of one vast story it would seem that myth, a universal phenomenon, is the progenitor'. Bill Moyers qtd. in The Power of Myth (1988, [video recording]) simply states that myths are the stories 'told by human beings through the ages to explain the universe and their place in it'. Wolf & Levy (2002, [Online]) state that myths are very old, sacred, traditional stories, 'often believed to be divinely inspired, and dealing with the relationship between people, their culture, and their god(s)'. For this fact, recipients of myths 'gain an insight into human nature and are confronted with the essence of the divine and the supernatural' (Saxby 1996, p. 167).
Myths are stories 'about superhuman beings of an earlier age, usually of how natural phenomena, social customs etc., came into existence' (The Angus & Robertson Dictionary and Thesaurus 1992, p. 659). Eliade qtd. in Wolf & Levy (2002, [Online]) suggest that myths give 'models for human behaviour' and 'give meaning and value to life'. The study of myths is mythology (The Angus & Robertson Dictionary and Thesaurus 1992, p. 659). Saxby (1996, p. 166) states that at the heart of mythology is mythos, which Muse Quest (1999, [Online]) describes as 'the pattern of basic values and historical experiences of a people'.
Myth, just like the other traditional storytelling relates directly to and overlaps into other disciplines, such as religion, history, culture, heritage, psychology and anthropology. Indeed myth goes hand in hand with supernatural persons and events, ancient and primitive beliefs, science and religion as Myths & Legends on Old Maps (2002, [Online]), Criss (1997, [Online]) and Woolf (1998, [Online]) suggests.
Graves (1959, p. v) states that myth has two main functions. One is to answer humanities universal questions, 'such as 'Who made the world? How will it end? Who was the first man? Where do souls go after death?'. The 'graphic and positive' answers to these questions that myth fulfils, 'confer enormous power on the various deities credited with the creation and care of souls - and incidentally on their priesthoods'. The other function of myth is 'to justify an existing social system and account for traditional rites and customs'.
Myth answers the questions; who?, what?, when?, where? and how?, suggesting and 'offering a seriously intended explanation of how something came to be, or was created' (Wolf & Levy 2002, [Online]). Saxby (1996, p. 166) states that 'myth grows out of the need to form hypotheses and create explanations'. Saxby (1996, p. 166) and Furniss (1998, p. 116) mention myths offer explanations for the physical world in which we live and see; the creation of the earth, formation of natural phenomenon such as weather and the seasons, and geographical features such as mountains and lakes. Myth also explains the formation of life; the origin man and woman, plants and animals.
Not only explaining the physical world that one can see, myths are very important in offering explanations of the unknown realms, worlds that one cannot see, and does not know, as Saxby (1996, p. 166) points out. Indeed scenarios of myth 'often take place in a world beyond our own' (Furniss 1998, p. 116); nether lands, subterranean civilizations, celestial kingdoms, spirit worlds, heaven. In respect to this Saxby (1996, p. 166) states that myth 'chronicles the human longing for immortality'. Mythologist Joseph Campbell qtd. in Mythos Institute (1997, [Online]), states that; 'The basic theme of mythology is that the visible world is supported and sustained by an invisible world'.
Saxby (1996, p. 167) states that 'all races throughout time have been awed by the unknown and the unknowable', 'that wonder, when expressed through myth is elevated to religion'. The religion aspect can be seen in the characters that abound in myth. Gods, goddesses, heroes, angels, saints, deities, demi-gods monsters, demons and a wealth of other supernatural entity's inhabit myth as Saxby (1996, p. 166) and Graves (1959, p. v) lists. Saxby (1996, p. 166) continues, stating that myth explains the ways of these gods, and their relationship with humanity, covering obedience, reverence, worship, propitiation, appeasement, sin and the consequences of divine anger. Saxby (1996), Criss (1997, [Online]) and Furniss (1998) state that just as importantly, myths also focus on and provide explanations of human nature, human emotions and human behaviour, containing and providing lessons, laws and morals to the recipient.
3.6 Myths and Psychology - Archetypes and the Monomyth
The question that has been touched upon throughout this chapter is that of the culturally shared re-occurring archetypal themes, motifs, narratives and characters, that appear in traditional story types, though most strongly represented in myth. These re-occurring elements are what Muse Quest (1999, [Online]) calls mythogems.
Saxby (1996, p. 167) states that 'myth is rich in symbols, and human existence is governed largely by metaphor', and that the story structure and obstacles that the character encounters is a metaphor for human life experiences. This is a fact agreed upon by mythologist Joseph Campbell, who also adds that 'myths are metaphors or fields of reference to what ordinarily can't be known or named' (Saxby 1996, p. 171). Campbell qtd. in The Power of Myth (1988, [video recording]), asserts that myths 'are simply trying to express a truth that can't be grasped any other way'. 'It's the edge, the interface' (Campbell qtd. in The Power of Myth 1988, [video recording]).
On the symbol of myth, Campbell adds that, 'the symbolism of mythology has a psychological significance' (Campbell 1993, p. 255). Also embracing the psychology of myth is Muse Quest (1999, [Online]), who displays a definition of myth, from a psychological perspective; a myth is:
A story... that appeals to the consciousness of a people by embodying its cultural ideals and/or giving expression to deep, commonly felt emotions through mythogems (Muse Quest 1999, [Online]).
Myth's relation to human psychology can also be seen in the work of both Carl Jung, and Jungian scholar, anthropologist and mythologist Joseph Campbell. Mello (2001, [Online]) states that Jung identified 'a series of specific and formal elements within world mythologies that have become primary archetypes', each archetype representing 'a core psychological function common to all humans'. Muse Quest (1999, [Online]) defines an archetype as:
An invisible, primal model, paradigm, metaphor or symbol within one's mind that remains unchanged over time and space, represents aspects of one self, controls how one experiences the world, and inspires similar patterns in the creative arts, literature, myth, legends, religion, and dreams (Muse Quest 1999, [Online]).
De Mers (2000, [Online]), relating to the work of Jung, states that although humanity differs a great deal in 'our conscious attitudes and goals', the unconscious mind is quite similar the world over. These similarities, or archetypes, led Jung to believe 'that people from around the world shared in what he termed a "collective unconscious"' (De Mers 2000, [Online]). Mello (2001, [Online]) states that Jung's archetypes can be 'found symbolically within traditional tales and are depicted in a variety of forms':
The fact that many of these archetypes occur repetitively in myths from widely divergent geographical areas is evidence, according to Jung, that a "collective unconscious" exists connecting people, cultures, and time within a "generative force" (Mello 2001, [Online]).
This is also the core of the work of Joseph Campbell (1904-1987), who built upon Jung's theory. Throughout his life, Campbell comparatively studied myth across civilization, exploring the myths of the world, the meaning of myth and its relation to humanity (and our lives), identifying mythical motifs and character archetypes. Brown (1998, [Online]) states that through the cross-cultural examination of myth, Campbell concluded that these seemingly diverse tales, from unrelated cultures from all around the world, were basically the same type of stories being told again and again. Brown (1998, [Online]) further states that Joseph Campbell 'concluded that there was an archetypal plot line within these myths which remained constant from one culture to the next'.
Meredith (2002, [Online]) states that the re-occurring common elements of these mythical stories i.e. the story structure and characters, is what Campbell called the 'Monomyth'; the one basic story type being repeated again and again throughout history. Campbell also called this 'The Adventure of the Hero', as these stories involve an archetypical 'Hero' character undertaking a journey of some sort. Today a commonly used term for this concept is 'The Hero's Journey' as Vogler (1998, p.4) explains:
'All stories consist of a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams, and movies. They are known collectively as The Hero's Journey' (Vogler 1998, p.4).
In a nutshell, Meredith (2002, [Online]) describes The Hero's Journey as any story where the protagonist i.e. the hero, 'undergoes trials that forces a change in the hero and in his surrounding world'. In his legendary book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, written and first published in 1949, Campbell in detail describes this universally shared general framework of storytelling, mythical motifs, the archetypal hero plotline and archetypical character types. In The Power of Myth (1988, [video recording]), Campbell answers, in response to the question; 'Why the Hero with A Thousand Faces?':
Because there is a certain, typical Hero sequence of actions, which can be detected in stories from all over the world and from many, many periods of history and I think its essentially you might say, the one deed done by many, many different people (Campbell qtd. in The Power of Myth 1988, [video recording]).
Campbell states a one sentence summary of the archetypal hero plotline in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, which Webb (2002, [Online]) points out:
The hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man (Campbell 1993, p. 30).
De Mers (2000, [Online]) summarises this concept in different wording:
All heroes follow a path that takes them from their known world, initiates them into a new world order, and returns them, forever changed, into the old world with new talents and gifts to share with the community (De Mers 2000, [Online]).
In The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Meredith (2002, [Online]) states that Campbell also challenged the reader to 'identify the true purpose of the hero in all stories that have meaning for us'. Relating back to psychology and the collective unconscious of humanity, Giambruno (1997, p. 4) makes the point that one of principles of Campbell's work is the classification of character archetypes that are reflective of prime examples of human nature. Campbell also attested to The Hero's Journey being reflective of everybody's journey though life (The Power of Myth 1988, [video recording]). De Mers (2000, [Online]) expands the theory by stating:
Perhaps a hero is in each of us because all of us participate in a life journey that is a quest for self-awareness and self-development. From cradle to tomb, we are all searching to discover who we are and why we are here. Spiritually and psychologically, the journey is a metaphor for growth (De Mers 2000, [Online]).
The information discussed in this section is the basis of The Principles of Mythical Storytelling and Character Archetypes, which the next section will discuss in detail.
3.7 Universal Storytelling Formula -
The Principles of Mythical Storytelling and Character Archetypes
3.7.1 The Hero's Journey
Meredith (2002, [Online]) states that The Hero's Journey story structure 'is a universal pattern of storytelling'. Giambruno (1997, p. 2) states that the set of principles, events, character and personality types that appear in The Hero's Journey story structure are 'universal among human beings'. Campbell explains that all stories that employ these particular structural elements, can be understood and enjoyed by all people no matter where the person comes from, what country, culture, traditional beliefs and religious customs they follow (Giambruno 1997). Meredith (2002, [Online]), no doubt relating to the collective unconscious adds that:
Such stories resonate because they reflect our own passage through life. The pattern forms unconsciously from the creator of the story and from us as we enjoy the story because we also unconsciously recognize the pattern (Meredith 2002, [Online]).
It would seem that due to the employment of this formula, which derived from traditional tales, many stories of today that are within books, films and animations have found success with worldwide audiences, in some instances the creators attributing the success of their work due to these principles. An example is George Lucas' Star Wars films. Both Giambruno (1997) and Verbeeck (2002, [Online]) explain that Lucas based the Star Wars story on Joseph Campbell's mythical story structure and character archetypes, that was detailed in The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Giambruno (1997, p. 2) explains that Lucas acknowledges the core of films popularity due to these principles, Verbeeck (2002, [Online]) stating that Campbell became almost a mentor to Lucas.
Other modern day films, including animations, that use this story structure and have found popular success with audiences are; Indiana Jones, Titanic, The Lion King, The Full Monty, Pulp Fiction, Beauty and the Beast, Citizen Kane, E.T., The Fugitive, The Godfather, The Piano, The Silence of the Lambs, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Volger 1998), Superman (Webb 2002, [Online]), and The Matrix (Brennan 1999, [Online]). One can state then, in light of this fact, if it were not for myths, legends, and folktales and the principles they embody, these films would not exist today.
Giambruno (1997, p. 2) describes that The Hero's Journey can be broken into three structural stages or acts, which many stories employ; Act 1: beginning (setup), Act 2: middle (development), and Act 3: end (resolution). This is somewhat similar to Campbell's description that The Adventure of the Hero consists of three parts; the departure, the initiation, and the return (Hart 1999, [Online]). The following is an outline of each act, based upon the description given by Giambruno (1997, p. 2):
Act 1: Beginning (Setup)
The first stage establishes and introduces the setting, the major characters and the main plot of the story, for example 'will good triumph supreme over evil'. This first act closes with a turning point within the story, usually the protagonist (main character) or hero decides to embark on a quest of some kind.
Act 2: Middle (Development):
This is the main bulk of the story. The main characters of the story meet friends and foes on their way while making progress towards their goal. The ending of the second act, is an often high-tension moment where the main character or hero seems to be defeated.
Act 3: End (Resolution):
This is the climax and aftermath of the story where the problem or enemy is conquered, and the hero returns from their journey.
Giambruno (1997, p. 2) continues to explain The Hero's Journey taking into account the work of movie script and story analyst Christopher Vogler. In his book The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters, Vogler explores, explains and reworks Joseph Campbell's ideas and simplifies his storytelling model into a practical, easy to understand guide for storytellers and screenwriters. With the help from Vogler's 12-stage model, Giambruno (1997, pp. 2-3) displays, how The Hero's Journey fits into the above three acts. Vogler's model is reminiscent of and corresponds with, Joseph Campbell's model, which is more detailed, as both Meredith (2002, [Online]) and Holeman (2002, [Online]) identify. The following information outlines descriptions for each stage, based upon the descriptions given by Giambruno (1997, p. 2-3) and (Hart 1999, [Online]) in relation to Vogler's and Campbell's model respectively:
Act 1: Beginning (Setup):
1. The Ordinary World: This is the beginning of the story where the main character/protagonist (Hero) is leading an ordinary life, in an everyday world that is familiar and common to him.
2. The Call to Adventure: Suddenly, sometimes purely by chance, a character, the Herald, appears with a message of some sort for the Hero, that calls him away from the ordinary world.
3. Refusal of the Call: Sometimes, the Hero will at first reject the call to adventure due to fear of entering the new world and/or in reluctance of leaving his responsibilities he is tied to in the ordinary world.
4. Meeting with the Mentor: At this stage, the Hero meets another character, the Mentor. The Mentor is a figure of wisdom, who may have been down the hero path before, offering advice to the Hero from his experience. The mentor helps the Hero get past any fears or uncertainty, builds confidence, gives guidance and provides information to the Hero (and the audience) so to understand what sort of quest he is embarking on. The Mentor may sometimes give an important object to the Hero needed to complete the mission.
5. Crossing the First Threshold: At this point, the Hero undertakes his first challenge, the outcome of which compels the Hero to embark on the quest; leaving the ordinary world, and stepping into the new world.
Act 2: Middle (Development):
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies: These are trials at the heart of the story, resulting in the Hero growing in character, becoming more accustomed to the new world. At this point the Hero may face many tests that threaten him, encounter Threshold Guardians and enemies, and meets friends that aide and teach the newcomer Hero the ways of the new world.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave: This is where the Hero is entering into the darkness of the antagonist/enemy (the Shadow) stronghold.
8. Supreme Ordeal: This is a dark moment when the Hero is challenged to his limit, reaching a peak culminating experience, resulting in the Hero seeming defeated with all hope seemingly being lost. The Supreme Ordeal is also the transformation of consciousness for the Hero.
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword): As result of surviving the Supreme Ordeal, the Hero gains enlightenment and manages to seize something of great value and importance; the reward (not necessarily a physical object).
10. The Road Back: As the Hero escapes the Inmost Cave the enemy, which is still a powerful force, pursues the Hero. This can also be seen as the beginning of the Hero's return to the normal world, back across the threshold.
Act 3: End (Resolution):
11. Resurrection: Resurrection is a critical moment when the Hero or other character survives after being in a seemingly doomed dead-end situation.
12. Return with the Elixir: The Elixir is the reward the Hero brings back from his quest, benefiting his society (which is sometimes the normal world from which he left, completing The Hero's Journey cycle).
The story structure can also be shown in a model diagram [Plate 1], which outlines the 12-stages, illustrating the complete cycle of The Hero's Journey. This diagram is based upon the diagram constructed by Hart (1999, [Online]), which in turn is based upon the original diagram constructed by Campbell (1993, p. 245). The text within the diagram is based upon Vogler's 12-stage model.
3.7.2 Character Archetypes
Giambruno (1997, p. 4) states that characters give a story interest and involve the viewer in the their adventures and fate, and in the case of archetypes, also reflect human nature. Closely tied in with the stages of The Hero's Journey, and just as important, are these character archetypes that were partly touched upon in the last sections. Both Giambruno (1997, pp. 4-5) and The Archetypes (2002, [Online]), describe each character archetype that appears within The Hero's Journey. The following information outlines descriptions for each character archetype, based upon descriptions given by Giambruno (1997, p. 4-5) and The Archetypes (2002, [Online]):
Hero: The Hero is the protagonist or main character at the centre of the story. The Hero usually acts as the good entity, the audience usually admiring and identifying with this character. During the journey, the Hero usually undergoes a growth of some sort. Campbell qtd. in The Power of Myth 1988, [video recording]), defines a Hero as:
Someone who has found, or achieved, or done something beyond the normal range of achievement and experience. A Hero properly, is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself, or other than himself (Campbell qtd. in The Power of Myth 1988, [video recording]).
Herald: This character delivers the call to adventure to the Hero. This character may sometimes only make a brief appearance in the story.
Mentor: The Mentor is the character that guides the Hero in some way, aiding and helping him prepare for the quest, passing on information and items the hero would need. This character may be a parent or guardian of the Hero, and is usually older, wiser and more experienced.
Trickster: This character embodies the energies of mischief and desire for change. The Trickster is responsible for breaking the tension through quirks and humour. In some cases Tricksters can be seen as the Hero's sidekick.
Shapeshifter: This is the elusive type of character in the story that changes their personality depending on the situation. They are sometimes quite unstable, constantly shifting even loyalty from good to evil and back again, and vice versa.
Threshold Guardian: This character somehow obstructs the hero in the way to his ultimate goal (though less than the Shadow) and act as obstacles at the threshold. The Threshold Guardian characters may take on many forms; they may be a concerned family, who initially blocks the Hero from embarking on his adventure, neutral inhabitants of the new world, or lesser forces of the Shadow. These characters allow the Hero to grow in spirit.
Shadow: This is the antagonist character, the bad entity who is at odds with the Hero and represents the energy of the dark side. The Shadow also represents aspects we don't like about ourselves.
3.8 The Hero's Journey Story Investigation
Giambruno (1997, p. 3) states that many stories follow the basic structure mentioned above. Of course not all stories follow the exact structure perfectly, but these principles do seem to fit within the framework of many stories displaying the basic core elements, especially traditional story-types and various modern cinematic works, as the comparative studies of Campbell and Vogler reveal respectively.
Indeed one can further understand and test the theory of the principles of mythical storytelling and character types, by examining stories from all ages themselves. Though breaking down each story into the models displayed above one can identify the monomyth within; the re-occurring motifs and character archetypes of The Hero's Journey. Three stories that employ and indeed fit into this universal framework would be a myth, a legend/folktale, and a contemporary film. The stories that will be investigated here, representing these three story types are:
1) Myth: Meeak Mia (The Moon's Cave): An ancient Noongar Western Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime story, set thousands of years ago, that gives a mythical explanation of how the moon came to be in the sky, and an explanation of certain natural features (Bobtales, 1997 [motion picture]). This story was made into an episode for the 1997 2D animated Aboriginal Dreamtime story series Bobtales. Credited work as a trainee animator was carried out on this particular episode. The series was a success, being screened on numerous occasions in both Australia and overseas.
2) Legend/Folktale: Smok Wawelski (The Legend of the Wawel Dragon): A well-known Polish folktale, set in the 8th century, that details how a poor, young shoe-maker rises from obscurity to save his town Kraków from a fierce dragon (The Legend of the Wawel Dragon, 2001 [motion picture]). One of the first written mentions of the story was made by Wincenty Kadłubek (1150-1223); the Bishop of Kraków and first native chronicler of Poland. A 3D animated short film version was created in 2001 for the 3rd year Multimedia Major Project in Bachelor of Multimedia Design. The film was nominated for Best Animation/New Media at the 2002 FTI WA Screen Awards.
3) Contemporary Film: Star Wars: One of the most successful film works of all time, being hugely popular with a worldwide audience. As mentioned before by both Giambruno (1997) and Verbeeck (2002, [Online]), George Lucas purposefully structured Star Wars around the mythical story structure and character archetypes devised by Joseph Campbell.
To identify aspects of The Hero's Journey model in each of these stories, each story will be displayed in a brief story outline, then broken up into the three act, 12-stage Hero's Journey model. Each stage will be detailed, and character archetypes listed and explained.
3.8.1 Story Investigation 1: Meeak Mia (The Moon's Cave)
Brief story outline based upon the Bobtales episode Meeak Mia (The Moon's Cave) (Bobtales 1997, [motion picture]):
A long, long time ago, there lived the moon in a cave on top of a hill. The moon could see down into the valley below, but he could not get out of the cave. He watched the Noongar people, who where free to travel back and forth. They seemed to be having a good time moving about and playing.
This made the moon restless. He wanted to be free to roam about too. He used to stare at the rocky walls and try to think of a way to get out. He thought and thought all the time longing for freedom. One day his need to get out became too great for him to bare. He gathered all his strength together, then he ran up the wall of the cave and pushed hard against the rock, trying to break out but it did not work.
Next, he flung himself against the roof. He flung himself so hard that the rocks gave way and the moon went right through the roof. Higher and higher he the moon went until he reached the stars. When he finally stopped he looked about. All around him was open space. There were no walls to hold him. He was truly free. With joy in his heart he set off to enjoy his new place and make friends with the stars. Today the moon still lives amongst the stars and he still roams back and forth across the sky.
The Noongar people say that the handprints that the moon made as he pushed his way out of the cave can still be seen on the cave wall and on the roof of the cave is a jagged outline that looks like the shape of the moon.
The Hero's Journey Model Breakdown:
Act 1: Beginning (Setup):
1. The Ordinary World: The ordinary world, set in the Aboriginal Dreamtime, is the environment in which the Moon dwells; the cave in which he is stuck in, separated from the outside world.
2. The Call to Adventure: The Call to Adventure comes to the Moon in the form of the Herald which can be said are the Noongar people, who the Moon sees freely roaming about enjoying themselves. This makes the Moon restless prompting him embark on his own quest for freedom.
3. Refusal of the Call: There is no definite Refusal of the Call in this particular story, as the quest is necessary to make the Moon's life better. Maybe it is the discouragement the Moon feels in not being able to break free immediately.
4. Meeting with the Mentor: There is no obvious Mentor figure in this story. Maybe it could be the Noongar people, or also the Moon's personal desire.
5. Crossing the First Threshold: The first threshold crossed by the moon, is that on taking the decision to embark on the quest for the new world of freedom, and him initially attempting to break out of the cave after his imprisonment became to much to bear.
Act 2: Middle (Development):
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies: The tests the Moon undertakes is the frustration of being stuck in the cave and the sequence in which he is trying to break free from the cave.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave: The Moon is put into this situation directly at the beginning of the story as he already is in the cave literally.
8. Supreme Ordeal: The supreme ordeal for the Moon is being stuck in the cave and trying unsuccessfully to escape, and being exhausted and discouraged when he cannot break free straight away.
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword): The reward the Moon seizes after the Supreme Ordeal is freedom, when he finally breaks free from the cave and imprisonment.
10. The Road Back: The moon is not necessarily on the road back to the ordinary world as he yearned to escaped it, but on the road to the new society he wished for, after escaping the Inmost Cave.
Act 3: End (Resolution):
11. Resurrection: This is when the Moon gathers strength and breaks free, after looking doomed and exhausted when his previous attempts to break free failed.
12. Return with the Elixir: The object the Moon acquires as a result of the quest is freedom in a new society for himself, and a place in the environment of the Noongar people.
Character Archetype Identification:
Hero: In this case the Hero, or main character, is the Moon who is trying to escape from the cave in which he is trapped. The growth the Moon undertakes is that of imprisonment, frustration and restlessness, to strength, freedom and happiness.
Herald: It could be said that the characters that call on the Moon to take on the quest of freedom are the Noongar people. The Moon sees them freely roaming about and enjoying themselves. This made the Moon restless and made him embark on his quest.
Mentor: As stated before, there is no obvious Mentor figure in this story. Maybe it could be the Noongar people, or also the Moon's personal desire for freedom.
Trickster: There is no obvious Trickster character in this story.
Shapeshifter: There is no obvious Shapeshifter character in this story. Maybe it is the Moon himself, transforming from a prisoner into a free entity.
Threshold Guardian: The object stopping the Moon from taking his journey over the threshold into the new world of breaking free is the cave itself.
Shadow: The Shadow or enemy of the Moon is the cave. It is imprisoning the Moon and preventing him from taking his journey of breaking free.
3.8.2 Story Investigation 2: Smok Wawelski (The Legend of the Wawel Dragon)
Brief story outline based upon the 3D animated short film Smok Wawelski (The Legend of the Wawel Dragon), animated 2001 for the 3rd year Multimedia Major Project in Bachelor of Multimedia Design (The Legend of the Wawel Dragon 2001, [motion picture]):
Once upon a time, many centuries ago where the city of Kraków now is in Poland, there lived in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill under Wawel castle, a most horrible fire-belching dragon. He terrorised the innocent townspeople, destroyed their property and ate their grazing cattle.
Nobody could stop the dragon and prevent his hideous deeds, so King Krak, the King of Kraków, desperately worried by the tragic situation in the city, announced that whoever could kill the dragon would, as a reward, marry his daughter and sit on the throne after his death. All the bravest knights and other contenders could not kill the creature. The King gave himself up to despair, while the King's daughter wrung her head in her hands as she could not expect to ever be married.
But, one day a poor but valiant shoemaker named Skuba hit upon a brilliant idea. Skuba spied on the dragons and saw it would eat almost anything. After much thinking and experimentation he thought to prepare a special meal for the dragon, which was a ram stuffed with sulfur and tar. He then quickly hid the treacherous gift outside the dragon's cave and ran to a safe hiding place.
Being hungry for breakfast the dragon came out of it's cave and quickly gobbled up the ram. The dragon's throat burned from the sulfur and tar so it ran to the nearby Wisła River for relief. The dragon gulped down so much water that he burst with a great bang, thus setting the town and the surrounding countryside free from its grip of terror. Skuba married the King's daughter and they lived happily ever after.
The Hero's Journey Model Breakdown:
Act 1: Beginning (Setup):
1. The Ordinary World: Although the Hero is not introduced at the beginning of the story, the narration introduces the protagonist; a poor shoemaker named Skuba. The audience from the outset is also presented with the ordinary medieval world of Europe, in which the inhabitants are threatened by the dragon.
2. The Call to Adventure: This is the point in the story when Skuba learns about the announcement made by the King. In the case of the film it is a note nailed on a wall, no doubt placed there by one of the King's Heralds.
3. Refusal of the Call: There is no obvious Refusal the Call in this version of the story.
4. Meeting with the Mentor: This story does not include an obvious Mentor character as the legend is to short and simple. In this version, the Hero thinks up the idea of how to defeat the dragon, himself rather than somebody else passing on the information. Though he did use his shoemaking skills to create the gift for the dragon, skills that a master would have taught his apprentice.
5. Crossing the First Threshold: This is the first great test undertaken by the whole town in attempting to destroy the dragon. We see the knights and contenders being destroyed by the dragon after the King's announcement, entities that failed in crossing over the threshold. This is also the turning point in the story where the Skuba is introduced and, in reply to the Call to Adventure, embarks on his quest in destroying the dragon, to save the town, after the failure of others before him.
Act 2: Middle (Development):
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies: The trials of the whole village are portrayed within the story from the dragon destroying the villager's property to the knights and contenders being destroyed when attempting the defeat the dragon.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave: It could be said this part of the story is when the knights and contenders confront and fail to destroy the dragon at his doorstep. Another part of the story is when Skuba is spying on the dragon in close proximity, and where he literally approaches the cave carrying the stuffed ram and placing it at the entrance.
8. Supreme Ordeal: This is one of the darkest moments in the story introduced when everything seems lost for the villagers, the king, and the princess, as all attempts at destroying the dragon up until that point. Enter Skuba!
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword): This is the point when the hero captures something valuable. The only thing that resembles this point is when Skuba spies and studies the dragon, and conjures up the idea on how to defeat it.
10. The Road Back: There is no obvious point when the hero escapes from the Inmost Cave. Maybe perhaps when Skuba places the ram in front of the cave and literally runs to cover.
Act 3: End (Resolution):
11. Resurrection: This can be said is about the whole village. It seems doomed until Skuba thinks up his brilliant idea on how to kill the dragon and acts.
12. Return with the Elixir: The Elixir in this case was the reward of safety and freedom for the villagers as they could get back to leading a normal life in the ordinary world after the dragon was defeated. As the society benefited from Skuba's act, Skuba himself was given the reward promised by the King.
Character Archetype Identification:
Hero: The Hero in the story is Skuba, the poor young shoemaker who defeats the Shadow that yearns to destroy the community, saves the town and receives his reward. The growth that occurs to Skuba is a large one, from being a mere poor shoemaker's apprentice, he becomes the towns hero and saviour.
Herald: The Herald in this story isn't a character but rather the note on the wall representing the King's announcement that calls Skuba to the adventure, no doubt put there by a Herald.
Mentor: There doesn't seem to be an obvious character of this sort in this version of the tale. As mentioned above maybe it could be seen as the master shoemaker, as the skills Skuba learns from him are used to create the gift.
Trickster: There doesn't seem to be an obvious Trickster character in this version of the tale. The story may be too short to introduce and include a character of this type.
Shapeshifter: There doesn't seem to be an obvious character of this sort in this version of the tale. Maybe Skuba from being into a man of small importance, to a hero of the society in which he lives.
Threshold Guardian: There doesn't seem to be an obvious character of this sort in this version of the tale. Maybe it could be seen as the already harsh conditions in the ordinary world of medieval life.
Shadow: The enemy in this story is no doubt the dragon. The dragon acts as a large negative cloud imprisoning the society until the hero finds a way to defeat it. Campbell qtd. in The Power of Myth (1988, [video recording]), states that that in typical early culture, the hero goes around slaying monsters, representing the period in history 'when man is shaping his world out of a wild, savage unshaped world'. Campbell adds that the dragon also represents greed and psychologically 'the dragon is ones own binding of oneself to ones ego', your ego holding you, in capturing yourself in your own dragon cave.
Indeed the dragon and the dragon-slayer character is common throughout European history for instance St. George and the Dragon. Campbell qtd. in The Power of Myth (1988, [video recording]), also states that the European dragon has a totally different meaning than the Eastern dragon, which stands for positivity and vitality.
3.8.3 Story Investigation 3: Star Wars
As everyone is probably familiar with the story of Star Wars, a brief story outline will not be presented. The information regarding The Hero's Journey Model Breakdown and character Character Archetype Identification is based on the identification made by Giambruno (1997, pp. 2-5).
The Hero's Journey Model Breakdown:
Act 1: Beginning (Setup):
1. The Ordinary World: The normal world of the Hero is presented to the audience in the form of Luke Skywalker living his life on his moisture farm with his Aunt and Uncle.
2. The Call to Adventure: This stage of the story is when the Herald R2-D2 appears to Luke Skywalker with a holographic message from Princess Leia that calls him away from his normal life in the ordinary world.
3. Refusal of the Call: Luke Skywalker firstly refuses the call to adventure, having more concern for his normal life on the moisture farm, than a faraway rebellion.
4. Meeting with the Mentor: Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi who plays the role of the Mentor. Kenobi provide Luke Skywalker with guidance, support and information about the quest. He also hands him an object required to complete the quest, in this case the lightsaber.
5. Crossing the First Threshold: The first great test that Luke Skywalker encounters that finally compels him to pass the threshold into the new world and undertake the quest, is the destruction of the moisture farm and the killing of his Aunt and Uncle.
Act 2: Middle (Development):
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies: Luke Skywalker faces many tests on his quest. He finds friends such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo and Chewbacca who teach him the ways of the new world, and also meets Princess Leia and the Droids. Luke also encounters enemies in stepping over the threshold in the hostile landscape of the new world, such as the trouble he encounters in the bar, and the ever-threatening Imperial Forces.
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave: This part of the story is when Luke Skywalker and his allies are pulled into the Death Star. It can be said it also happens again when the Rebel ships attack the Death Star, approaching certain danger.
8. Supreme Ordeal: An example of this part of the story would be when Luke and his allies seem doomed when they are trapped in the trash compactor. Also the trouble encountered by the Rebels during the final attack on the Death Star also can be viewed as a Supreme Ordeal.
9. Reward (Seizing the Sword): After surviving their Supreme Ordeal, Luke Skywalker and his allies manage to escape and retrieve the reward; the Death Star plans intact. Another reward was ultimately the destruction of the Death Star.
10. The Road Back: When escaping the Inmost Cave, in this case the Death Star, the Millennium Falcon is pursued by the still threatening enemy in the form of Tie Fighters.
Act 3: End (Resolution):
11. Resurrection: This happens on numerous occasions in Star Wars. An example of when a character in Star Wars seems doomed but survives, is when R2-D2 is repaired after the attack on the Death Star.
12. Return with the Elixir: The Elixir that was bestowed in Star Wars is hope. Luke Skywalker's triumph over the evil by destroying the Death Star gave hope to the Alliance that the Empire could be defeated.
Character Archetype Identification:
Hero: The Hero character in Star Wars is Luke Skywalker. The growth he undertakes is from a farm boy to the hero of the Rebel Alliance.
Herald: The character that issues the Call to Adventure to the Hero in Star Wars is R2-D2, where he plays the holographic image of Princess Leia to Luke Skywalker.
Mentor: The Mentor figure in Star Wars that guides the Hero Luke Skywalker is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kenobi guided Skywalker by telling him the story of the rebellion and giving him the lightsaber, an object that he needed on his quest.
Trickster: R2-D2 exerts the humour in the Star Wars, providing lightheartedness and relief from the tension during the story.
Shapeshifter: The character that changes personality in Star Wars depending on the situation is Darth Vader, who is also the Shadow. He changes from evil to good within the stories.
Threshold Guardian: The role of obstructing the Hero in the Star Wars story is initially Luke Skywalker's concerned family, his Aunt and Uncle, preventing Luke Skywalker from embarking on the quest telling him to focus on the harvest rather than some fantasy in a faraway land. The hostile entities of the local environment, and the forces of the Shadow, in this case the Imperial Stormtroopers also attempt to obstruct the Hero Luke Skywalker.
Shadow: Darth Vader plays the role of the dark nemesis in Star Wars.
3.8.4 Story Investigation Conclusion
In clearly identifying the mythical storytelling structure and appearance of character archetypes in both the myth Meeak Mia, and the legend/folktale Smok Wawelski, one can see that the majority of the points of The Hero's Journey 12-point model, and character types are strongly represented within these traditional tales. It is also important to note that the Principles of Mythical Storytelling and Character Archetypes where not used as a purposeful template or formula to create traditional tales of this type, but derived from such tales. This can clearly be seen in Star Wars, whose director George Lucas intentionally employed the exact structure of universal The Hero's Journey model and character archetypes. Also demonstrated in this three-story investigation is the universality of the model, as the three narratives fit the model no matter when and where the tales were invented, transcending time and culture respectively.
By conducting a thorough investigation on storytelling, valuable knowledge was acquired on one of animation's main features. Through investigating the definition storytelling, its purpose, and how a story can be told, it can be concluded that animation is a legitimate form of storytelling. The importance of story in animation was discussed, and how it impacts on various factors in animation, from pitching a concept to final audience success.
An investigation of traditional story was conducted in order to identify each traditional story type and difference between them in order to inform the practical component of the Honours project which works with such tales, relying on the principles of mythical storytelling and character archetypes. An understanding of the psychological significance of traditional tales was crucial in fully understanding how this universal storytelling formula works, and how it impacts upon the audience. Breaking down The Hero's Journey storytelling model into its various stages, and applying it to existing story types in order to examine the monomyth and character archetypes within, also helped in gaining a better understanding these principles, and how they can be used in film production.
This chapter directly relates to the practical component of the Honours project, as described in part 2 of the dissertation; The Self-Reflective Case Study. In animating legends in the 3D animated pilot and series concept, I am also animating a narrative from which the Principles of Mythical Storytelling and Character Archetypes inform.