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Star Wars Movie and Campbell’s Hero Journey

Hero’s journey is a chronology of events which take place in the life of a hero. Hero’s journey is a concept which Edward Taylor introduced in 1871. Since then, it has become a popular concept in comparative mythology and narratology. A large number of mythologists have since then used it in their writings. The idea of hero’s journey is used as a template which a hero fills during his adventure. One of the great minds who have contributed to the development of this concept is Campbell who, in 1949, came up with 17 stages of the hero’s journey.  The idea of the hero’s journey has been adopted in many books and films.

One of the films in which the concept of the hero’s journey extensively features is George Lucas’ Star Wars. In Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, there is clear evidence that Lukas who had written and directed the film, made extensive use of the concept of hero’s journey.  The episode revolves around the successes of the villain in the Separatist War which had caused anxiety between the regime and the separatists like Dooku. The result of the episode is that Anakin eventually succeeded in killing Dooku before emerging as a hero. The successes in the fight against the separatists indicate that the episode fits into Campbell’s definition of a hero’s journey.

All the events in the episode resonate with Campbell’s ideas because everything took place as if it was a journey.  The protagonist’s movements began from the point of departure, initiation, and return. During the first stage, Anakin had a call from the authorities to liberate it from the yoke of the separatists who were intending to tear apart the territory. However, as a responsible and loyal citizen, Anakin headed to the call and accepted to participate in the war. Although there was no intervention of supernatural power, Anakin never refused but decided to fight in support of his beloved government. That is one area in which the episode applies Campbell’s idea of a hero’s journey. Just like any other hero in history, Anakin’s elevation to a heroic stage had to begin from this stage.

The other part of the episode which fits into Campbell’s ideology is the participation of Anakin in the war. This fits into stage two which Campbell referred to as initiation. After accepting the call to fight for his people, Anakin prepared himself and went to the battlefield. Here, he had to join efforts with other patriotic personnel to fight against the separatist soldiers like Dooku and Palpatine. During this time, the hero passed through trials and had to endure and fight as hard as he could. He had to dedicate his time because his success in the war would not only liberate his people but give him an opportunity to emerge as a respected hero in his society. As the story unfolds, it comes to the attention of the audience that after killing his opponents, Anakin came back home as a hero who had accomplished a noble mission that his people were expecting from him.

In conclusion, a hero’s journey is a popular concept in mythology. It is one of the devices which Lukas applied in the third episode of the film discussed here. Everything that Anakin went through on his journey to be a hero fit into Campbell’s explanation. For him to engage the separatists in a duel, win the battle, and qualify as a hero, Anakin had to pass through the departure, initiative, and return stages.




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