Mythic Structure Screenwriting

Clayton, Sue. 2007. Mythic Structure Screenwriting. New Writing, 4(3), pp. 208-223. ISSN 1479-0726 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Many analyses of screenwriting and story structure deal with the ‘mythic’ underpinning of the screenplay text – both those like McKee that reference the classical Aristotelean three-act model of the hero and his quest, and the followers of Campbell and Vogler who posit certain ‘monomyths’ as universal paradigms for cinema storytelling.The monolithic nature of these theories makes them hard for writers to work with in a specific and personal way; and there is also the inference, especially with Campbell et al. that working with myth is an unconscious process, embedded in our acculturisation and not something we make conscious choices about.In this article I will examine further the critical literature around writing and mythology. Then I will present two detailed analyses of how I have worked with mythological themes across not just story and dialogue but character, image, landscape and music.The first of these examples, The Disappearance of Finbar, a feature film I co-wrote and directed, debates notions of myth and magical realism in modern Europe; the second, Jumolhari, a feature screenplay co-written with Bhutanese film-makers, explores the cultural specificity of our mythic models, and shows how in this case certain concepts in Bhutanese Buddhist mythology challenge our practices of mythic storytelling in both form and content.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


September 2007Published

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Date Deposited:

13 Oct 2015 11:08

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 13:47

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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