Posts tagged ‘Vogler’
Eastern Promises explores the Whore archetype where the sins of a society are heaped on the Whore and she is run out of town, or in this case dies of neglect and misery in child-birth.
The Whore or the Victim archetypes has lost connection with herself (suicidal) and is attached to others in a completely powerless way. She is disconnected from a caring community and even a belief in herself. Sensing she is vulnerable evil forces make her the scapegoat.
Before the story opens, Russian Mafia boss in America, Semyon, has a son who is showing signs of being gay (Kiril). Semyon puts Kiril to the test, telling him to rape Tatiana, a 14 year Virgin who has come to America to be a famous singer. Kiril cannot rape her so Semyon proves his superiority by raping Tatiana and discarding her to his brothel. She and her baby are declared slaves to the superior mafia boss with no familial connection.
This is the back story that calls the heroes into action. Anna is a midwife at the hospital and finds a diary of Tatiana’s life. She determines to find family for the baby girl. In the film, Tatiana’s diary and the baby together represent the Virgin in the story. The second hero is the mafia driver who has a core of decency in an ugly, gritty world.
Eastern Promises is a great example of a hero story where the Virgin, which catalyzes the hero’s journey, is well-developed making for a rich story.
It’s a good reminder when writing Virgin stories to take the time to create a rich understanding of the hero who may play a role in beats 3 (opportunity to shine), 5 (Secret World) and/or 12 (The Re-ordering).
This story is very plot driven except when the Virgin is represented (in the form of the baby or the diary). We do not get emotionally close to the other characters. This high contrast gives great impact to the tragedy of the Virgin.
The Russian underworld in America is graphically revealed and made more ominous by the speaking of Russian which we, the audience, struggle to understand, treated as if we are irrelevant in our own culture. This along with the violence (including a fight scene in the steam room that is blazed on my memory forever), create a strong impact as to how dangerous these elements are to the Whore/Virgin and to all of us. The Whore becomes the Virgin when people stand up for her. In the end, this baby girl is the key to bringing down the mafia boss, which makes the Kingdom (America) a brighter place.
This is a really well crafted film where the heroes are not cast in the hollywood mould and are archetypally very strong. Thanks Fran, for bringing this movie to my attention.
For easy reference, here are the basic beats of the Hero’s Journey:
- ordinary world
- call to adventure
- refusal of the call
- meeting with the guide
- crossing the first threshold
- tests, allies and enemies
- road back
- final battle
- return with the elixir
My favourite Hero movie right now is Blood Diamonds. Bourne Identity is also good with his amnesia causing him to develop his ordinary world in his relationship with the woman he just met, Marie. The best examples for learning to find the beats are Star Wars (first one), The Matrix, and Beverly Hills Cop. Vogler enthusiasts may notice that these beats are slightly modified from the beats he uses in The Writer’s Journey which looks closely at the beats of this archetype. My book gives an overview of the Hero and shows how the Virgin and the Hero archetypes are polar opposites of each other, each making the other more vivid. As a result I modified the beats slightly.
Once I learned of how Joseph Campbell and Chris Vogler had outlined twelve consistent beats that occur in Hero stories, I decided to find the persistant beats in Virgin films. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Dependent World
2. Price of Conformity
3. Opportunity to Shine
4. Dresses the Part
5. Secret World
6. No Longer Fits Her World
7. Caught Shining
8. Gives Up What Kept Her Stuck
9. Kingdom in Chaos
10. Wanders in the Wilderness
11. Chooses Her Light
12. The Rescue
13. The Kingdom Is Brighter
The Virgin begins her story in a Dependent World. She carries her kingdom’s hopes for their continuation, which are contrary to her dream for herself. At first she is afraid to go against her community and realize her own dream. But then she has a small Opportunity to follow her dream in secret. She acknowledges her dream by Dressing the Part, if only temporarily. Enlivened by this first experience, the Virgin goes back and forth, juggling the two worlds, enhancing her dream in the Secret World, while appeasing her Dependent World. Eventually she No Longer Fits Her World and she gets Caught Shining. In this crisis the Virgin has a moment of clarity and Gives Up What Has Been Keeping Her Stuck. The Kingdom Goes into Chaos. Now, she Wanders in the Wilderness trying to decide whether she will make herself small again to make people happy or choose to live her dream. She Chooses Her Light! She loses her protection and it is grim, but the kingdom Re-orders itself to accommodate the blossoming Virgin, and changes for the better. The Kingdom is Brighter.