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The hero’s journey

Vogler’s narrative theory outlines the twelve steps of a hero’s journey and can be a useful way of looking at film narratives.

The outline of Star Wars has been broken down into the twelve steps as an example. Use the third column either to a)
arrange the plot of Four Weddings (page 3) or b) a film of your own choice.

Star Wars
Restless teenager Luke Skywalker is bored
1. Ordinary World
with life on the remote farm where he lives
The hero is in their normal world but
with his uncle and aunt. His parents are
feels incomplete or unsatisfied.
presumed dead and he feels unfulfilled.

Luke accidentally finds the beautiful

2. Call to adventure
Princess Leia’s desperate plea for help,
The catalyst that pushes the hero out
addressed to Obi-Wan-Kenobi and stored in
of his ordinary world.
the droid R2D2.

3. Refusal of the call Luke seeks out Obi-Wan but doesn’t dare
The hero resists the call, adding take up the challenge saying that his uncle
tension and conflict. and aunt need him.

4. Meeting the mentor Luke finally puts himself in the hands of

The mentor encourages the hero and Obi-Wan and begins to learn the ways of
provides guidance and support. the force.

5. Crossing the first threshold

The first moment of departure from Luke takes up the challenge when Imperial
the ordinary world, a step filled with troops kill his uncle and aunt.

6. Tests, allies and enemies

Luke and Obi-Wan head for a spaceport
A series of trials, giving an insight
bar, meet up with Han Solo and the Wookie
into what lies ahead. The strengths
and make a bitter enemy of Jabba the Hut.
of his companions are shown.

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The hero’s journey

7. Approach to the inmost cave Luke and his allies have a series of
The hero is ready for the supreme adventures as they move towards the place
ordeal. This is the start of the action. where Leia is held prisoner.

8. Supreme ordeal The ordeal is made up a series of

The hero faces his final fear in a adventures that culminates in the attempt
showdown with his nemesis. to break the princess out of the Death Star.

Luke and his companions escape with the

9. Reward – seizing the sword
princess and the information needed to
The hero has defeated his nemesis
destroy the Death Star but not without the
and claims his rightful prize.
sacrifice of Obi-Wan.

10. Road back

The worst is not yet over. The Death Star,
The consequences of the hero’s
moving within range of the rebel base, still
actions become clear and any
has to be destroyed.
unresolved issues reappear.

11. Resurrection
Luke trusts the Force and destroys the
An event which changes the hero in
Death Star by sacrificing an old part of his
some way and allows a return to his
personality, his dependence on machines.
ordinary world.

12. Return with elixir

Luke and his allies are decorated as heroes
Loose ends are tied up and the
in front of a large crowd. Luke’s elixir is his
hero’s journey is complete. If the
new self-knowledge and control of the
hero does not have the elixir, the
whole journey must be repeated.

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The hero’s journey
Match theses parts of the plot of Four Weddings and a Funeral to the correct step of Vogler’s theory.

Charles crosses, or half crosses, many

A sadder, but not much wiser man, he At the first wedding he is strongly
thresholds, most notably when her tries
gets over Carrie and somehow rebounds attracted to Carrie, a mysterious woman
to tell Carrie how he feels after helping
into the arms of ‘Duckface’. from outside the circle of his friends.
her with her wedding dress.

The reward, if any, is self knowledge. Charles is a serial monogamist who As he enters the special world of love,
He learns from Gareth’s death that love goes to other people’s weddings but Charles is hounded by ex-girlfriends,
does not have to mean marriage. He can’t imagine getting hitched himself. shadowed by a friend who would like to
has also learnt to lower his His heroic flaw is his inability to say, or be his lover, and finds he has a rival for
expectations. know, what he feels. Carrie’s love.

Charles’s real ordeal comes on his own

Charles has several mentors; Carrie who
wedding day when he finds out that he The series of weddings becomes trying
warns of missed opportunities, Gareth
could have Carrie and recognises his for Charles as the object of his love
who says how wonderful Carrie is and
own feelings. His heroic flaw almost seems to grow more desirable and
his deaf-mute brother who forces him to
brings him to ruin but his brother forces remote and finally marries Hamish.
speak the truth.
him to speak the truth.

At the third wedding, Charles loses hope In a touching, rainy reconciliation scene,
of ever winning Carrie as she speaks of Charles demonstrates that he has learnt From the first wedding, when he does
her love for Hamish. He loses a dear his lesson, speaking honestly about his not approach Carrie, Charles refuses the
friend when Gareth collapses of a heart feelings for Carrie and his newly call of his heart several times.
attack. acquired aversion to weddings.

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