Today there’s a movie that starts with the words, â€œA LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY…â€ Actually, the story was not from a galaxy far away, it was from Greece and the time seems to be less than 3000 years.
There is a famous line generally attributed to George Santayana that goes “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” I would like to the line, â€œThose who do not learn their mythology are domed to stand for hours in the line to see the archetypes written by the Greeks thousands of years ago.â€
In my second book, Archetypes in Our Lives, I did cover major archetypes and not only showed how every so often the same lessons or archetypal behaviour is passed to a new population with new bells and whistles but it is the same old plot.
Here it goes, a couple of examples for different blockbusters in the last two decades.
The first example is â€œThe Twilight Saga.â€
It made a gazillion* of dollars in books, movies, and merchandise. The whole world was so happy that they came to read and watch something so fresh and romantic. Were they really?
If you don’t know what â€œThe Twilight Sagaâ€ entails, here is a summary of the plot.
A young maiden is caught in a love triangle between two rival gangs.
Please now allow me to summarize the plot for â€œThe West Side Story.â€
A young maiden is caught in a love triangle between two rival gangs.
Are you surprised by the similarity?
Evidently, in â€œThe West Side Storyâ€ the rival gangs known as â€œSharksâ€ and â€œJetsâ€ were replaced by werewolves and vampires on its newest version as “The Twilight Saga;” otherwise, it is the same plot. The inspiration for â€œThe West Side Storyâ€ was to turn Shakespeare’s â€œRomeo and Julietâ€ into an urban musical, instead of using family members, the musical turned the families members into urban gangs. Very few people know that Shakespeare plagiarized â€œRomeo and Julietâ€ from an ancient story written by Ovid. The Roman writer wrote a love saga called â€œPyramus and ThisbÄ“,â€ about a young couple who lived in Babylon 800 years before his time. Therefore, â€œThe Twilight Sagaâ€ is nothing besides a recurring archetype in human literature, of love triumphing above prejudice.
Another example of example of an old archetype redress as new making gazillion* of dollars; is the blockbuster called, â€œThe Lord of the Rings.â€ If you are not familiar with the plot, here is the essence of 1000 pages: â€œThe main characters have to wrestle with ethical values when a ring will provide them unlimited power including invisibility.â€
This concept was plotted by J. R. R. Tolkien was not original, whenÂ Tolkien was 7 years old, H. G. Wells published a book called â€œThe Invisible Man.â€ Wells’ main character had to wrestle with the ethics of having invisibility and no accountability. This concept is not original for H.G. Wells either. One of my favourite book of all time is called, â€œThe Republicâ€ authored by Plato narrating the lessons from his teacher, Socrates. In fact, I designed the cover of my book on archetypes based in one of the lessons of â€œThe Republic,â€ called â€œThe Allegory of the Cave.â€
Another story from the pages of Plato is the story called, â€œThe Ring of Gyges.â€ Socrates postulated that a shepherd stole a ring from a sarcophagus which gave him invisibility. Socrates main question after citing the story was: Would an ethical individual remain ethical if he had no accountability for his actions?â€ J. R. R. Tolkien expanded one chapter of â€œThe Republicâ€ into 1000 pages.
I hope by now you understand that there is very little that Hollywood has been producing that it has not been written before, and â€œStar Warsâ€ is no exception.
By the way, I am not giving the plot away when I say that the main part of the plot is Luke Skywalker unknowingly killing his own father while the rest of the cast are the white knights having to fight the dark knights. Well, in â€œStar Warsâ€ the cast are not called knights, they are called Jedis and Darths. So, here are the main similarities between â€œStar Warsâ€ and ancient Greek mythology.
â€œOedipus the Kingâ€ (Oedipus Rex) is a tragedy written by Sophocles. A youngster has to pass to a series of trials becoming a hero, later in the plot, unknowingly he comes to kill his own father. Another similarity to â€œStar Warsâ€ and ancient Greek mythology is the recurrence of white knights replacing the tyranny of the dark knights. This part of the ancient mythology, the author George Lucas decided to call the status quo as â€œthe dark side of the force.â€ The various plot in ancient mythology narrates that white knights will eventually turn into a dark ones. This recurring motif is seen in â€œJason and the Argonauts,â€ also in â€œThe Castration of Uranus,â€ and the â€œTitanomachyâ€ or â€œThe Battle of Titans.â€ In essence Cronus once upon the time was a white knight and his father Uranus was making trouble. He battled his father and took his father’s place and eventually he went to the dark-side. Later in Greek Cosmogony Cronus’ (Saturn)Â youngest son, Zeus (Jupiter) was once again the white knight replacing his dark force father, Cronus.
The film, â€œStar Wars: The Force Awakensâ€ is going to once again make a gazillion of dollars based on the ignorance of an audience who is not in touch with their library card. In other words, the essence of, â€œThe Twilight Saga,â€ â€œThe Lord of the Rings,â€ â€œStar Trek,â€ â€œMarvels’ The Avengers,â€ a”Star Wars,â€ and many other epics, comes from the same placeâ€”ancient mythology.
Here is another extend of â€œStar Wars,â€ that people may find oblivious, it has to do with a religious archetype. According to anthropologist, the oldest religion found in written history is Zoroastrianism. The religion comes from Persia, and it has a simple format Duo-theism,** a good god and a bad god (a light god, and a dark god). Christianity took from Zoroastrianism’s format as an “alleged new” concept in which good and evil are inherent spiritual forces testing us. WhetherÂ “good and evil concept” is the Christian Church doctrine, the â€œStar Warsâ€ doctrine, â€œThe Lord of the Ringsâ€ doctrine or â€œMarvels’ The Avengersâ€ doctrine; they all have one thing in commonâ€”archetypal formats. So whether today (or in ancient times), when a person goes to church is to learn the difference between good and bad modes of behaviour or archetypal behaviour, when a person goes to the movies is no different.
The similarities of archetypal characters from â€œStar Warsâ€ echoes so many religious archetypes that some soldiers and geeks have decided to list their religion in job applications or alike as Jedi. So for the next few days, you may see lines at movie theaters go around the block for archetypal characters that were based on ancient Greek mythology and the oldest religion known to mankind, Zoroastrianism. Theses plots which have been in human consciousness for the last three to five thousand years, that it is why they become “blockbusters” time and time again. Thus, once again, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it; and those who do not learn their mythology are domed to stand for hours in the line to see the very same archetypes written by the Greeks thousands of years ago.’
* A gazillion is a very large and undetermined number.
** Zoroastrianism is considered a monotheistic religion, I rather call it duo-theism because two immortal deities are considered in order to validate a religious format. For instance, “Star Wars” would not exist without “the dark side” and nobody would watch “007,” if there were no villains to overcome.
To everyone Happy Holidays and Fiat Lux!