Re-posted from andrewneuendorf.com
I didn’t think my children (5 and 3 years old) would make it through Cloud Atlas, so we went to Wreck-it-Ralph instead. The film is yet another Hollywood incarnation of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, perhaps the most common plot structure employed by screenwriters, especially after Christopher Vogler introduced his famous memo, “A Practical Guide to the Hero with a Thousand Faces.”
Ralph, our unfulfilled hero, is called to leave his home and journey into strange new worlds (including one video game called “Hero’s Duty,” appropriately), only to return home in the end after a moment of self-realization. It’s a framework that is recycled so often (The Lion King, The Matrix, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz) because audiences respond to it. The Hero’s Journey resonates with universal human experience. We all leave home, grow, and change. It’s not cliche, it’s an archetype. Cliche is the moss that grows on the archetypal tree.
But Wreck-it-Ralph adds something new to the Hero’s Journey.