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A HERO'S JOURNEY OF INTERNAL GROWTH IN A FOREIGN FILM
SUBJECTS — World/Other Cultures: Japan; Literature/the Hero's Journey;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Grieving; Families in Crisis;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Caring.
This lesson can be used to confirm and extend students' prior knowledge of the Hero's Journey or serve as a summative assessment.
Age: 14+; MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material; 2008; Drama; 130 Minutes; Color; Available from BarnesAndNoble.com. The Japanese name for the film is Okuburito.
Daigo's father abandoned the family when Daigo was only six. The story of Daigo's journey to resolve his feelings about his father fits the paradigm of the Hero's Journey, also called the Monomyth, a concept based on the discoveries of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. The stages and archetypes of the Journey are summarized in TWM's Stages and Archetypes of the Hero's Journey — Introducing the Monomyth.
TWM has also created a Hero's Journey Worksheet to help students identify the stages and archetypes in any story in which the protagonist successfully completes an important quest. This Lesson Plan provides notes on responses when the worksheet is applied to Daigo's journey in Departures. The Lesson Plan also contains suggested assignments.
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will describe the stages and archetypes of the Hero's Journey manifested in a foreign film describing a quest for personal growth. In addition, by completing one or more of the suggested assignments, students will employ and perfect some of the writing skills required by ELA curriculum standards.
Students will be exposed to a compelling film made in a country which has customs that are different from their own.
Rationale: Stories told on screens are the literature of today's youth. Students will have an extra quantum of interest in applying the concept of the Hero's Journey and performing related ELA assignments with respect to a profoundly moving film. The Monomyth is a basic paradigm of human experience that is frequently used in written stories, drama, and film. Viewing stories involving a successful and important quest in different contexts will expand and deepen students' understanding of the role of the Hero's Journey in fiction and in life. By understanding the elements of the Journey, students will be better prepared to identify protagonist, antagonist, conflict, theme, and symbol.
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Studying the stages and archetypes of the Hero's Journey makes literary analysis relevant to students. Departures provides an example of the Monomyth in a foreign film in which the hero is questing for person growth.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to Departures. This paragraph describes the first stage of Daigo's journey.
1. The Ordinary World — Daigo's father had wanted his son to play the cello. When his father left home, Daigo could have rejected the memory of this father and stopped playing the instrument. Instead, Daigo buried his feelings of anger and tried to please his father by continuing to play; the child hoped that if his father returned, the man would be pleased that his son excelled at the instrument. As the movie opens, Daigo's ordinary world is one in which even as an adult, he has suppressed his feelings of anger and is still playing the cello, trying to please his father.
TWM's lesson plan Departures — A Hero's Journey of Internal Growth in a Foreign Film demonstrates the universality of the concepts of the Hero's Journey/Monomyth.
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