Hero’s Journey

OF BONSAI AND BALANCE: THE HERO’S JOURNEY IN THE KARATE KID

Karate Kid

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2012 issue of Paracinema Magazine.

“First learn stand, then learn fly.”

If there’s one overused approach to the academic examination of film it’s the application of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. First presented by Campbell in his seminal 1949 book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” the idea of the monomyth (also known as The Hero’s Journey) explores our shared history and examines a common thread that appears in the nature of our different cultures. It presents a pattern in myths, legends, fairy tales, etc. in which the hero goes through specific stages to transform into an archetype. Campbell’s book looks at why/how this pattern naturally emerged out of different stories from all over the globe and traces it throughout history. Of course, the monomyth pattern existed long before Campbell laid it all out in “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” in works like “Beowulf” and “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” and that seemingly omnipresence of it is what makes the monomyth so damn interesting and important.

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