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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Joseph Campbell: Mythos I
Joseph Campbell: Mythos I
Other // Unrated // October 9, 2007
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Kauffman | posted September 1, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:
Thank heaven someone had the good sense to tape one of Joseph Campbell's final lecture series before his death in 1987. Though this set, to quote hostess Susan Sarandon in her introduction, "isn't for everyone," for those with an abiding interest in the nooks and crannies of the human psyche, and Campbell's lifelong quest to knit together mythic strands from all of the world's cultures (itself a mythic feat), this first two-disc volume, subtitled Shaping Our Mythic Tradition, is a treasure-trove of information coupled with Campbell's unique insight.

Split into five succinct yet jam-packed segments, this set covers everything from the inner life of the soul (where Campbell gets from Plato to Jung in about three sentences), to the slow transformation from Goddess worship to today's more paternalistic tendencies, to the mystical tradition that helped shape both Eastern and Western traditions, albeit very differently.

This is a fairly low-tech affair, with Campbell basically standing on a stage speaking to various groups. His hand-drawn "visual aids," shown via an overhead projector, are augmented on this DVD release with slightly more modern minimally animated versions, as well as the occasional cut to an illustration or photograph of the various philosophers and folklorists Campbell mentions in passing.

Speaking entirely extemporaneously, without notes, Campbell's quicksilver mind makes wonderfully unexpected connections between farflung cultures, something for which he was justifiably famous. His humor can be a little on the erudite side, as is to be expected, but his love for the subject and his audience's rapt attention throughout are both very much in evidence.

Sarandon appears in brief interludes, perhaps to help those floundering amid the talk of ego, shadow, Eros and the like. Her calming presence is a nice counterpoint to Campbell's more straightforward, full-speed-ahead ethic, though her repeated calling of this legendary man "Joe" seems somehow a little too familiar for a man of his intellect and standing. However, one doubts he would have minded at all.

The DVD

Video:
The image here, in fullscreen, is nothing to write home about, having obviously been shot on video at various campuses and meeting halls. That said, it's perfectly acceptable--it's the information that's being imparted here that is important, not watching Campbell per se.

Sound:
The standard soundtrack is perfectly acceptable. More of Peter Kater's original music would have been welcome; Richard Patterson's gorgeous opening piece under the Campbell Foundation logo (which Patterson also designed) is 30 seconds of aural bliss.

Extras:
No extras on this disc.

Final Thoughts:
Campbell has become something of an archetype himself in the intervening years since his death. This wonderful set is a fitting hommage to his life's work and reminds us all that we are all cut, psychologically at least, from the same cloth.

____________________________________________
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet

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