The documentary Finding Joe is a beautiful cinematographic exploration of Joseph Campbell. The primary focus is on the movement of Campbell’s monomyth, the hero cycle that virtually all mythology demonstrates. Finding Joe explores the hero cycle with insightful commentary from a variety of individuals, including Tony Hawk, Deepak Chopra, and Rashida Jones. The most beautiful part of the film is the segments of the hero’s journey re-enacted with children. Great imagination and fabulous imagery! The film also emphasizes how the hero’s journey has been represented in modern film, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland. (As you all know, my own work focuses on bridging the gap between pop culture and mythology, so I was quite delighted to see this). Finally, the film focuses on the other key concept in Campbell’s voluminous work: how you can find and follow your bliss.
I have read a variety of reviews on the film and am pleased to see that most are rather positive. There has been some critique of the film in failing to completely portray Campbell’s vision or in having the tone of a type of self-help infomercial. I can see where this criticism comes from, but I believe the film fulfills its purpose quite well: it introduces individuals to Campbell and serves as a great ground to start sharing his vision. It also offers inspiration!! Does it completely encompass Campbell? Well, no, but no 80 minute film could do that. (I read that the original cut is 8 hours long. That would be interesting to watch!!) Campbell has endless works and thoughts that one could spend a lifetime studying (in fact, that’s what I’m doing!). Nonetheless, this documentary taps into the heart of the hero’s journey and makes it accessible to every modern individual. Anything that brings myth and Campbell to the public eye gets two thumbs up from me!
I had the fortune of seeing the film opening night when the director was present and available for a short Q&A after the show. I felt the theater rushed us out just as we were getting to the good stuff! Nonetheless, it was great to see director Patrick Takaya Solomon accompanied by Robert Walter, president of the Joseph Campbell Foundation. I even had the pleasure of meeting Solomon. He’s a very friendly gentleman filled with a great passion for Campbell. I encourage you to support his project! It has not yet earned a wide release yet, but can help influence its availability by seeing the film if you’re in CA, CO, AZ, WA or OR.