The Hero's Journey/Jung

This 2010 contemporary sci-fi actioner follows a subconscious security team around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams.
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Inception self-consciously tells the story of Jung's/Campbell's theory of the hero's journey.

Discuss.

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Man, that's a great insight! And I think that's why the film works so well, because it really taps these major Jungian archetypes of dreaming, symbolism, states of consciousness and of course we can see the parallelisms with Campbell's Hero Journey. It fits right in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth

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SPAWNmaster wrote:Man, that's a great insight! And I think that's why the film works so well, because it really taps these major Jungian archetypes of dreaming, symbolism, states of consciousness and of course we can see the parallelisms with Campbell's Hero Journey. It fits right in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth
There's a line in Batman Begins about hallucinations conforming to "Jungian archetypes." Nolan has some knowledge of the subject matter, then. In this interpretation, Dom Cobb represents the ego self undertaking the hero's journey to confront the shadow self, manifested in his anima, Mal.

The full quote, in fact, is "Patients suffering delusional episodes often focus their paranoia on an external tormentor. Usually one conforming to Jungian archetypes. In this case, a scarecrow."

The idea that Cobb is delusional is suggested by Mal, with her speech about the unreality of Cobb being chased around the globe by law enforcement and corporations. Cobb focuses his paranoia on the Cobol corporation and law enforcement, neither of which, to my knowledge, conform to any Jungian archetype. Cobb's internal tormentor, Mal, however, clearly conforms to the Jungian concept o the shadow self, manifested as Cobb's anima.

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"This first stage of the mythological journey – which we have designated the 'call to adventure' – signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight. The hero can go forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure, as did Theseus when he arrived in his father's city, Athens, and heard the horrible history of the Minotaur; "

"Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or 'culture,' the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless – even though, like King Minos, he may through titanic effort succeed in building an empire or renown. Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his minotaur. All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration."

"the first encounter of the herojourney is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass. What such a figure represents is the benign, protecting power of destiny. The fantasy is a reassurance – promise that the peace of Paradise, which was known first within the mother womb, is not to be lost; that it supports the present and stands in the future as well as in the past (is omega as well as alpha); that though omnipotence may seem to be endangered by the threshold passages and life awakenings, protective power is always and ever present within or just behind the unfamiliar features of the world. One has only to know and trust, and the ageless guardians will appear. Having responded to his own call, and continuing to follow courageously as the consequences unfold, the hero finds all the forces of the unconscious at his side."

"With the personifications of his destiny to guide and aid him, the hero goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the 'threshold guardian' at the entrance to the zone of magnified power. Such custodians bound the world in four directions – also up and down – standing for the limits of the hero's present sphere, or life horizon. Beyond them is darkness, the unknown and danger;"

"The idea that the passage of the magical threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbolized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have died. This popular motif gives emphasis to the lesson that the passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation. Instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the hero goes inward, to be born again. The disappearance corresponds to the passing of a worshipper into a temple – where he is to be quickened by the recollection of who and what he is, namely dust and ashes unless immortal. The temple interior, the belly of the whale, and the heavenly land beyond, above, and below the confines of the world, are one and the same. That is why the approaches and entrances to temples are flanked and defended by colossal gargoyles: dragons, lions, devil-slayers with drawn swords, resentful dwarfs, winged bulls. The devotee at the moment of entry into a temple undergoes a metamorphosis. Once inside he may be said to have died to time and returned to the World Womb, the World Navel, the Earthly Paradise. Allegorically, then, the passage into a temple and the hero-dive through the jaws of the whale are identical adventures, both denoting in picture language, the life-centering, life-renewing act." [5]

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It is impossible for me to think Nolan didn't have the Hero's Journey in mind when he wrote Inception. There's more Campbell quotes in the Monomyth link provided above.
Last edited by Baz744 on July 21st, 2010, 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CinemaBlend has an article classifying the characters as Jungian archetypes:
http://www.cinemablend.com/new/What-If- ... 19638.html

Mal (The Shade) as The Shadow Archetype
Arthur (The Point Man) as The Hero Archetype
Saito (The Tourist) as the Father Archetype
Eames (The Forger) as The Trickster Archetype
Robert Fischer Jr. (The Mark) as The Child Archetype
Ariadne (The Architect) as The Anima Archetype
Miles (The Mentor) as The Wise Old Man Archetype
Yusef (The Chemist) as The Self

I'm not sure I completely agree with all of them, but i'll have to see Inception again to really be sure.

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I absolutely think that it follows the monomythology, though I do not think that it was planned as such. I think it was a result, not a construct for the movie. Usually, movies and stories which are planned around this story telling tend to be blasé and repetitive. This movie is so much more. So yes, there is not a doubt in my mind that it ended up sharing or being the monomyth, but it was not written as such.

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bmneu wrote:I absolutely think that it follows the monomythology, though I do not think that it was planned as such. I think it was a result, not a construct for the movie. Usually, movies and stories which are planned around this story telling tend to be blasé and repetitive. This movie is so much more. So yes, there is not a doubt in my mind that it ended up sharing or being the monomyth, but it was not written as such.
Even with the references to Greek myth? Of course it was made that way.

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bmneu wrote:I absolutely think that it follows the monomythology, though I do not think that it was planned as such. I think it was a result, not a construct for the movie. Usually, movies and stories which are planned around this story telling tend to be blasé and repetitive. This movie is so much more. So yes, there is not a doubt in my mind that it ended up sharing or being the monomyth, but it was not written as such.
I challenge you to read the Campbell quotes I posted. Then see if you can honestly claim Nolan didn't write it with the Hero's Journey in mind.

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1) The Call to Adventure:

"This first stage of the mythological journey – which we have designated the 'call to adventure' – signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight."
I think there are two calls to adventure in Inception. The chronologically first call was Mal's leap of faith, which Cobb refused (see below, refusal of the call). The second was when Saito hired Cobb to perform the Inception on Fischer (who is really another aspect of Cobb's psyche).
"Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or 'culture,' the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved. His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless – even though, like King Minos, he may through titanic effort succeed in building an empire or renown. Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his minotaur. All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration."
When Cobb refused Mal's call to adventure, he "walled his minotaur (his guilt over what he perceived as Mal's death)" into the labyrinth of his psyche. In so doing, Cobb became a "victim to be saved." But like King Minos, he succeeded in "building... renown" as a dream extractor. Even so, his labyrinth became a "house of death," and "created new problems" in the form of law enforcement and the Cobol corporation. Happily, Cobb heeded Saito's second call to adventure, beginning his journey, and eventually leading to the completion of his quest.

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