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ERIC Number: ED468663
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 14
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Defining American Heroes: Analyzing the Metamorphosis of the War Hero in Twentieth Century War Films Using Joseph Campbell's, "Hero's Journey."
Frith, Luci A.
In "The Hero's Journey" Joseph Campbell identifies the patterns that inform the myths of the "hero" throughout recorded history. By using Campbell's template, this paper examines how the American war hero is portrayed and has been portrayed in film. The paper states that Americans not only define their war heroes in films but also use these film heroes to define themselves. It analyzes the shift in the portrayal of the hero in films from World War II to Korea and Vietnam. The paper explains that in Campbell's theory tales of heroes through the ages follow a consistent pattern which can be reduced to four main steps: the call to adventure or action; the hero departs, leaving the familiar; he encounters tests and trials in the new environment; and he leaves his newfound world and reenters his former one. It discusses several World War II films, including "Air Force" (1943), "The Fighting Sullivans" (1942), "So Proudly We Hail" (1943), and "Purple Heart" (1949). It then notes that although the films about Viet Nam and Korea had no call to action, the one constant theme is that each soldier will leave the familiar and enter the unknown where he will be faced with events that test his definition of who he is and what he values. The paper finds that, very much as Campbell described, soldier characters in American war films are pilgrims on the journey of transformation--they journey into the abyss as surrogates for all Americans. (Contains 36 references and 45 film references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A