Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell
Last time we delved into The Supreme Ordeal, today it’s all about the Flight.
Okay, so the hero has defeated the enemy (or at least escaped unscathed, well maybe scathed, but he/she is definitely still alive.) Great, but what’s next?
Now, it’s time to run. Run like heck. Run like he/she has never run before and never look back. Chances are the hero is being pursued most likely by someone or something really big, really mean, and with one agenda, to kill him/her.
The goal is one fold: Get back to Common Day.
It’s like there is this idea that common day is safe. (Oh yeah, because it is.) And if the hero can just cross that Threshold, everything will be all right.
But it can NEVER be as simple as that can it? Of course not! We’re talking about heroes here!
So to understand the stage of Flight, it is necessary to understand that all important Threshold Crossing, that moment that is supposed to bring joy and peace and happiness and ever after.
What You Need to Know:
There will be another threshold struggle that the hero must undergo. After all, he/she didn’t get into this world without a fight, so what makes them think they can get out so easily. Oh, they’re heroes now? Big, strong saviors of the world? Well, that just means that their struggle will be that much harder, multiplied exponentially.
Four ways this will be played out in what we in the biz call The Road Back: (And by the biz, I really just mean me at me keyboard…)
1. The Return
One of the greatest examples of a Return appears in the Lord of the Rings (novel version). The films had to cut this scene due to the 50 endings already in the movie. (Even though when the hobbits return to the Shire the events that transpire are absolutely critical to one of the themes in the story and by not including it they nearly destroyed the entire brilliance of the epic reducing it to a minor farce, nearly.)
But that is a rant for another day.
Instead, what I’m referring to is the all important “Scouring of the Shire”. For those who haven’t read it, when the four hobbits return to their eutopic Shire after saving Middle-Earth, they find that it is over run by Saruman and evil men. They then lead a force to expel Saruman and the men from the Shire thus saving their paradise. Thus in the midst of their Return, they must once and for all fight an enemy to ensure their safety.
What can be better than an example from Lord of the Rings? One from Disney of course! One of the best, and my personal favorite, of the Disney Princess movies is Beauty and the Beast. In here we have a glorious example of a resurrection.
Okay, take yourself back to that moment. Gaston has just stabbed the beast, and now Beast throws his sorry behind off the castle roof. Belle sees Beast is hurt. Beast is dying. Belle is crying. Beast is dead.
“What the crap?! I thought Disney movies were love stories! Man, I hate this movie!” Says my 6 year old self, and yours too.
But wait. What’s this? Belle says she loves him before the rose pedal hits the floor and BOOM! Evil magic undone, Beast is now a handsome BEAST, and they live? H.E.A. That’s right. He came back from the dead. No way! (But then again, this happens often in Disney doesn’t it? It’s like they have a resurrection complex.)
Also known as Deus Ex Machina in Latin for Cop Out (I mean God from the Machine), a Rescue is the moment when all is lost then Whoa! (like Joey form Blossom) everything gets fixed. One of the best examples is Superman the Movie (1978). Okay, full disclosure, I love me some Supes. And Christopher Reeves Supes is iconic. BUT, you have to scratch your head at the ending. So, there’s this horrific earthquake, Lois dies and all is lost. But wait. If Superman flies fast enough in outer space, he can reverse the Earth’s rotation? (Nevermind the gravitational forces and tide issues this can cause.) But besides all that, reversing the Earth’s rotation can reverse time!? Oh man! Talk about a
cop out awesome ending or in other words, a Rescue! God comes down (or flies up?) at the last moment and saves everyone.
And if you don’t like Supes, then what about the Eagles in Lord of the Rings? See, it’s always a good example.
4. Refusal of Return
Sometimes the new World of Adventure is so exciting and changes the hero so much that he/she cannot return. Such is the case with Coach Bombay in The Mighty Ducks.
For those who can’t remember my childhood coaching idol, Gordon Bombay, his journey started as a star lawyer in a high priced law firm, Ducksworth and Assoc. When he gets arrested for drunk driving, he is sentenced to coach an ailing pee wee hockey team, District 5. (A sport which we know from the opening credits that he was really good at playing as a kid.) Antics ensue, a love interest is formed, and Gordon fights against being in his new world.
Then towards the end before the big game against his old coach and rival, Bombay is given the opportunity to leave the coaching world and return to the law firm. But Gordon doesn’t take it. Instead, he gives his old boss and namesake of the Mighty Ducks a very inspiring lecture about what being a part of a team means.
“You may have paid for that jersey, sir, but you didn’t earn it,” says he to Ducksworth. (Of course after having repeatedly quacked at him.)
And for those of you who question whether Gordon Bombay can be included in the list of heroes, consider this:
(Special thanks to Jose Mendoza at instagram @greenzombify)
Next time we will discuss the final stage of the Hero’s Journey in The Return With The Elixir.
Peace and Long Reads