Essay on The Hero's Journey: an Analysis of Cameron Crowe's Film Almost Famous Using Joseph Campbell's Monomyth

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"The Hero's Journey: An Analysis of Cameron Crowe's Film Almost Famous Using Joseph Campbell's Monomyth"

an analysis of
Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous (2000) is a dramatization of writer/director Cameron Crowe's real-life experiences as a teenage rock reporter for Rolling Stone. Based on thinly-veiled autobiographical material from the precocious beginnings of Crowe's early career, the screenplay shapes sentimental memories into movie magic. But how did Crowe give his own coming-of-age tale such universal appeal? A closer look reveals that Almost Famous, like most films worth their salt, is yet another incarnation of the greatest and only mythological adventure, "The Hero's Journey." This relationship can be explained using
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Far from traditional, out-and-out villains, these antagonists take more "curiously fluid, ambiguous forms." (Campbell 97) They are the SHAPESHIFTERS that Lester Bangs has warned him against, the "fake friends" that will "ruin rock and roll." It's not until William flatters them with his detailed knowledge of their music that they offer up a fickle form of friendship, bringing him backstage with them and into the UNKNOWN WORLD. William's ROAD OF TRIALS begins when Rolling Stone magazine calls to commission a Stillwater story, sending him on tour with the band. He faces a series of TESTS and difficult tasks, from keeping his hysterical mother at bay to losing his virginity to missing his high school graduation back home, but his greatest challenge lies in getting an interview with the elusive Russell Hammond.
In Cleveland, William stumbles in on a poker game Russell is playing with some roadies and watches as Penny Lane gets traded for fifty dollars and a case of beer, then he has to tell her the truth about why she's not invited to New York. These events mark the APPROACH TO THE INMOST cave. As the action builds toward the culmination of second act—the ORDEAL—the stakes get higher for all of the characters. William is informed that his embryonic Stillwater story is going to be on the cover of Rolling Stone and due the next day in San Francisco. Penny shows up in New York and is ignored by Russell (and everyone else) to the brink of