Thursday, 29 September 2016

Narrative Lecture Series: Myth and The Hero's Journey - Quest for Camelot

Warner Brother's 1998 animated feature 'Quest for Camelot' despite not being much of a success at the box office, is a powerful "Heros Journey" film with a female protagonist, Kayley. Which however isn't just a retelling of the typical princess story, like many others of its time which were being produced by larger and more popular companies such as Disney, which was perhaps a contributing factor to its eclipse from gaining much fame. 

The viewer is sympathetically introduced to protagonist Kayley as a child, in her "ordinary world", Kayley's father Sir Lionel is a knight of King Arthur's round table, who is an important figure in Kayley's life and she intends to be a knight like her father when she is older, despite her gender. However he is killed while she is still young when he intervenes on an attempt on King Arthur's life by Ruber, another knight, who wants the throne for himself. 10 years on, Ruber's griffin attacks Camelot and steals Excalibur, King Arthurs sword, but the wizard Merlin's falcon Ayden intervenes and the sword is dropped into the forbidden forest. 

Stage one of our Heros Journey, Kayleys call to adventure, is initiated when Ruber invades
Kayley and her mothers home, holds everyone in their village hostage and uses a potion to create hybrid metal/weapon soldiers from some of the people. It is revealed he plans to use Kayley's mother Juliana to gain entrance to Camelot in order to once again challenge King Arthur. Stage 2, refusal of the call is Kayleys reluctance to escape her home and Rubers men, as she does not want to leave her mother and other village people, however her mother encourages her to leave, find the missing Excalibur and help save Camelot, so she escapes through a gap in the wall, heading to wards the forbidden forest. 

Stage 3, supernatural aid happens soon after once she enters the Forbidden Forest, at first finding it treacherous and dark, however she meets Garrett, a blind young wanderer who lives there and seems to know all the forest's secrets, as well as Ayden, Merlin's falcon who knows where Excalibur fell into the forest. A little later in the plot when they find themselves in Dragon Country, she also meets a friendly two headed dragon, Devon and Cornwall, who are flightless and cannot breathe fire, always bickering and are bullied by the larger dragons. Stage 4, crossing the first threshold happens hand in hand with stage 3, firstly with Kayley having to convince Garrett to help her through the forest to find Excalibur, and then for him to also accept Devon and Cornwall into their group (in dragon country) 
The 5th stage, belly of the whale is Kayley and Garetts escape from dragon country while being hounded by the larger dragons, and also later in the plot when finally retrieving Excalibur from the forest. 

The 6th stage, the road of trials, is the groups journey through the forbidden forest to where Ayden saw Excalibur drop, only to discover it is no longer there. They also encounter Ruber and his men lead by Griffin, who are also searching for Excalibur and hunting Kayley, and in the confusion Garrett is injured. Stage 7, meeting with the goddess, is not the typical introduction of a new character as love interest, but instead happens when Garrett and Kayley realise their love for each other once they escape Ruber's men, who become ensnared in thorny bushes, and Kayley drags Garrett away to safety into a nearby cave, where he is healed by magical plants.

Stage 8, temptation doesn't happen until later in the story, after the group retrieves Excalibur, Garrett does not want to leave the forest and journey to Camelot, and Kayley is conflicted between staying with Garrett and going on to complete her quest without Garrett. Similarly, stage 9, atonement with the father, also happens later in the film after Kayley leaves Garrett to continue on to Camelot, and is captured by Ruber, but is reunited with her captive mother, who tells Kayley although Ruber is now in possession of Excalibur, its okay and she is and her father would be proud of her for her efforts. 
Stage 10 apotheosis and 11, ultimate boon go hand in hand, and take place before stages 8 and 9, and consist of Kayley and her group discovering Excalibur, now in the possession of a large stone giant who is using it as a toothpick, and managing to retrieve it from from the sleeping giant just before Ruber and his men do, escaping capture and therefore completing the first stage of Kayley's quest to save Camelot. 
Stage 12, refusal of the return takes place at the same time as 8 and 9; Garrett is unwilling to leave the forest as he feels he is unwanted in Camelot because of his blindness, Kayley doesn't want to leave him but must to return Excalibur to King Arthur, however she is captured by Ruber (atonement with father(mother) happens here), and her new goal is to save Camelot from Ruber who now has Excalibur, and magically fuses it to his arm with aid from the potion he used at Kayley's village. 

Stages 13 and 14; magic flight and rescue from without also take place together, Cornwall and Devon see Kayleys capture then return to Garrett and convince him to leave the forest to help save Kaylee from Ruber. Further, in working together for the first time towards a common goal they discover they can now fly and breathe fire. In the mean time, Ruber and his men gain entrance to Camelot hidden in a cart with Juliana at the front, but once inside Kayley escapes her ties and meets Garett, and the pair head off to find Ruber. 
Stage 15. crossing the return threshold consists of Kayley and Garrett saving King Arthur in his battle with Ruber by tricking him into returning Excalibur to it's stone. This causes a magical blue wave to sweep over the kingdom of Camelot, turning Ruber's soldiers back into regular men, and killing Ruber. Camelot is saved thanks to Kayley and her friends. 

The final stages 16 and 17, master of two worlds and freedom to live also go hand in hand, The kingdom is saved, Garrett and Kayley marry and are honoured, becoming knights of King Arthur's round table, as Kayley has always dreamed, and Garrett knows he is accepted in Camelot. 


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