Joseph Campbell: The Hero's Journey

Starring: Joseph Campbell
RRP: 12.99
Certificate: E
Available 16 April 2007

One of the greatest storytellers of our time, and arguable the greatest mythologist, Joseph Campbell spent most of his long, rich career explaining how ancient myths like the Hero's Journey are relevant to modern life. In understanding the importance of myth as a vital, vibrant source of "mankind's one great story", Campbell inspired others to embark on a quest for the meaning of myth in their own lives. This biographical portrait, filmed shortly before his death in 1987, follows Campbell's personal quest - a pathless journey of questioning, discovery, and ultimately of delight and joy in a life to which he said, "Yes"...

Joseph Campbell: The Hero's Journey is a bit of a strange release. Already at least 20 years out of date (he died in 1987) there seems to be no real reason to release this on DVD now - unless you think being dead for 20 years is something to celebrate.

The filmmakers obviously didn't know what to do with the material they had gathered. Over the course of this documentary it is uncertain whether it is supposed to be an exploration of one man's philosophy on life, an examination of what the word "myth" actually means, a look at how Campbell's work has inspired movie makers like George Lucas, or how all religions basically follow the same basic principals and beliefs. This movie tries to do too much and ends up exploring none of the many subjects it tackles very well.

Whenever anyone in Campbell's audience attempts to interject, or look like they might want to raise a point, he talks over them, or silences them by touching them. What we end up with is a documentary that seems to show a cult leader preaching to a bunch of hippies.

The Star Wars connection is thrown in to attract the sci-fi fans, but this documentary never actually delves into it very deep. While there is a montage of clips, it would have been better if a more detailed exploration had been conducted. All we really learn is that Star Wars was based on Campbell's beliefs of what makes a good story. Everyone already knows that.

The film print ranges from poor to awful and there are no extras at all. To be honest this is a badly dated, poorly thrown together release. If you are a real hard-core Campbell fan and you wait until this is available in the sales for under a fiver, then maybe there will be something here of interest for you... but I doubt it. Everyone else - steer well clear.

Darren Rea

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