“Finding Joe” is a Call to Adventure

When I was a teenager, any time it came up, I would tell people that I was my own hero. In fact, my favorite song was Hero in Me by Jeffery Gaines. My response was intended to be glib, full of winking narcissism. Eventually, that went by the wayside. As an adult, nobody asks you about your heroes.

However, last night it all came rushing back and I realized I wasn’t so far from the truth.

Alchemy Inc, the group that presented the Michael Meade workshop I wrote about last year, hosted a screening of the documentary Finding Joe at Musica. Finding Joe focuses on the work of renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell.

At some point, almost everyone has encountered Campbell’s most famous work, A Hero with a Thousand Faces, in one way or another. (If you haven’t encountered the book or its subject, you’ve at least heard the ubiquitous phrase coined by Campbell: “follow your bliss.”)  In the book he introduces the concept of the Hero’s Journey, a “monomyth” that serves as the foundation for myths from every culture in the world. In fact, this monomyth is so imbedded in the collective unconscious that a person could unwittingly find it’s cyclical pattern inscribed in his own actions.

And that’s where this movie picks up. Instead, of being a clinical look at Campbell’s work, it turns the idea of the Hero’s Journey into a Call to Adventure for the watcher. Through quotes from Campbell, scenes of children enacting various aspects of the journey and interviews with people as diverse as Deepak Chopra and Tony Hawk, the movie follows the cycle of the journey to show us that by taking Campbell’s advice to “follow your bliss”, no matter how simple our lives, we too can become heroes.

Now is the perfect time to admit: from about the second scene of the movie until the credits, I couldn’t stop tears from streaming down my face. The funny thing is that I was unable to tell if they were tears of joy or sorrow. This movie struck a cord that resonated deep within my being. This is a movie that works on a spiritual, intellectual and visceral level.

More importantly, I think this movie is a must see for every artist– no matter your craft. It connects the Hero’s Journey to the essence of why we create. It also serves as inspiration if you’ve fallen into a rut in your work or the malaise of modern society.

If you are unfamiliar with Campbell’s work and want a very accessible introduction, this is a great documentary for you. At the screening, I saw children as young as 10 years old, who were able to understand the concepts presented in the film.

Finding Joe is available as a digital rental or for purchase at the iTunes store or, if you want a hard copy, Amazon.com. I already bought mine! Where’s yours?

-Benjamin Rexroad
Managing Artistic Director

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