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The six hour PBS program JOSEPH CAMPBELL: THE POWER OF MYTH is one of that network's finest, yet they never show it anymore, not even during fundraisers. (Sinatra's Concert for the Americas and Doo Wop revivals are big in my area.)

The charismatic, enthused and quite brilliant Campbell taught at Sarah Lawrence College for 38 years. I would've loved to have attended his courses. He has a way of making the most abstract concepts easily understood, seems to relish recounting fables first spoken by ancient teachers and shamans, and always returns to his main theme: find your bliss, and do it in the here and now.

Journalist and ex-LBJ staffer Bill Moyers interviews Campbell from the proper position of student to teacher. "Joe" as Moyers calls him, reacts happily when his pupil grasps what he's saying, and rephrases a thought when he doesn't. Teacher is patient when Moyers doesn't agree on the meaning of life or divinity, but he never goes off-message, instead pointing out examples from his own past that powerfully support his views.

The sixth and final chapter has a moment that really resonates for me. It was taped just a few months before 83-year-old Campbell's death.

At one point during this discussion of eternity, the professor mentions that he's lost many friends and his parents, yet realizes that they still live within him. I'm more black & white on this. A memory is an intangible, untouchable thing. No matter how vivid, it's not the same as seeing, hearing or being with lost ones. Yet, I recognize that they do sometimes surface in my most powerfully emotional dreams. In that subconscious realm, they truly exist.

I suppose Campbell would've refuted my view in his good-natured way and left me to reassess. And that is the true joy of this series of talks: they cause you think about things you'd never even considered and appreciate more those that have long been a part of your life.


#1 - "The Hero's Adventure" - Citing George Lucas' STAR WARS and ancient folktales in this hour interview, the professor illustrates that the hero's striving is metaphor for struggles that occur within us all.

#2 - "The Message of the Myth" - Common themes across the ages oin God and creation. Religions change as the world does. The four functions of myths.

#3 - "The First Storytellers" - Native American myths. Cave paintings in America and France. Manhood rituals of primitive tribes.

#4 - "Sacrifice and Bliss" - Plant mythology. Stages of marriage. Legend of Gawain and the Green Knight. "Follow your bliss!"

#5 - "Love and the Goddess" - Tristan & Isolde. The goddess cults. Christian themes in earlier religions.

#6 - "Masks of Eternity" - The energy of the Universe. Art that expresses the energy of life. "Elemental ideas" i.e. universal concepts. Trickster myths. Meditation.
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on September 11, 2012
This is almost as good as the PBS series I saw on TV in 1988(I think). Wonderful.

Yesterday, I sat in front of my computer surrounded by a glow of happiness. The books by Mr. Campbell are valuable, but to watch him and Bill Moyers, well, what can I say? I watched the expression in Mr. Moyers's eyes change from interested to WOW! I get it, when Mr. Campbell explained the ruling myths. I imagined that my eyes were doing the same thing. It's been a long time....

The other reviews covered the contents of the DVDs in detail. I am not going to repeat them.

However, I will share this: the first time I watched and listened to Mr. Campbell,I was clinically depressed. As I listened to this guru, I could feel my body (including my nervous system) shift and change until the empty spaces were filled and I knew that I was healed. The next day, the therapist confirmed this and listened to my adoration of Mr. Campbell with a smile on his lips and in his eyes. He, too, was a disciple of Mr. Campbell. At this time, I am not depressed, but I am a victim of government. My house was destroyed by the flood waters in upstate NY last Sept. It's been a year and I am still waiting for a buy-out. The conversations between Mr. Campbell and Mr. Moyers are what I need to remain lucid until the circle is closed. These discs will be used time and again.

Thank you to those in the Foundation who labored to bring these conversations to us. Thank you to for carrying Joseph Campbell's DVDs.
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on December 2, 2005
I know that it does sound overly dramatic and even trite to say that a television series truly changed my life, but in the case of, "The Power of Myth," it really is true.

I studied C.G. Jung in College and was introduced to Campbell's written work at that time. It was all very intriguing, but for whatever reason, I never followed up with it then. Not too long after that, my local PBS station ran the entire "Power of Myth" series one weekend as a marathon, complete with pledge breaks. I taped it then and for reasons I can't now imagine, I didn't bother watching the series until some years later when I was trying to sort through my tapes. But when I did, it changed me.

In the series, Campbell was able to easily articulate so many ideas that I knew were true, but never knew how to truly grasp or say myself. They also gave me inspiration and courage I didn't know I had in me. I've since then watched the series (or listened to the outstanding CD audio release) many, many, many times. I've read Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces" cover to cover a few times over and I'm still making my way through his "Masks of God" books.

"The Power of Myth" forced me to really examine myself, what I was doing with my life, and how I was living it. Five years or so after first seeing the series, I left my very comfortable, very glamorous, very secure corporate job and set out to take the risk and "follow my bliss." And now, two years after that, I'm in the midst of following my bliss and while it isn't always easy, there's no question that I'm on the right path and I'm happy and stimulated in ways that I only fantasized about before. Campbell's body of work - and "The Power of Myth" specifically - really did change my life for the better and its a reference point which I return to time and again.

The DVD release of "The Power of Myth" is vastly superior to the old VHS release simply for convenience and durability's sake alone. As an extra, the DVD also adds a bonus Bill Moyers interview with George Lucas in which Lucas discusses mythology. It's a welcome addition to be sure, but why not release the entire hour long "Mythology of Star Wars" interview which this interview was excerpted from? I'm glad I still have my PBS taped VHS of that one!

Anyway, I'm certainly not complaining. Perhaps "The Power of Myth" won't have the same effect on others that it has had on me, and that's fine. Go your don't need Joseph Campbell interviews to do that. But "The Power of Myth" changed - and continues to change - the course of my life for the better and I'll be forever grateful for that.
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on June 5, 2013
If you are interested at all in Anthropology or Mythology, this is a must have. They go over the roots of cultures around the world. It is fascinating how much this still shapes us today. I love the conversation and the stories. It is amazing how people on the farthest reaches of the planet created the same Gods and the same stories independently from each other. The names are different and they have different shapes, but the stories themselves are so similar in what they are teaching. It shows how much we are alike, even when we have all developed in different places and how we have evolved with those stories. If you are not interested in where we all came from and how we got where we are, it is just two old men talking, and I pity you.
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VINE VOICEon February 19, 2012
Joseph Campbell was perhaps the foremost mythologist of the last 200 years. His ability to storytell, synthesize, and relate the vast quantities iof the world's mythological tradition into a digestable 6 hour series is quite incredible.

Filmed nearly 30 years ago, this series of questions and answers between Campbell and Bill Moyers is as fresh and as relevant today as it was then. Using the advent of technology and the computer as a backdrop - as well as the Star Wars series as a "relatable" way to convey the power of the hero and the power of the myth, Campbell and Moyers explore the vast realm of myth and tradition - always bringing it back to the individual watching the series.

It is almost impossible to give justice to Moyers inquisitive journalism, and equally impossible to give justice to Campbell's childlike enthusiasm for the topic - even as he is in his 80's when the series was filmed.

If you have never seen it and have an interest in the subject or the man of Joseph Campbell - get it. It is a MUST SEE.
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on July 23, 2011
I've known the interviews of Bill Moyers with Joseph Campbell since 1987 and had them on VHS tape, but was glad to find them (second-hand) as DVD issues. I love Campbell's way of expressing himself. He brings profound statements in the words of street kids. Here speaks a man steeped in his subject. When you realize that he died a couple years after the last interview, you sense the profound loss of a mind that could enlighten your mind as to why you may be living on this earth.

I recently read the book "An Open Life", interviews of Michael Toms with Joseph Campbell, and I find that text clearer yet than the interviews with Moyers. The Moyer's interviews are ad lip and I like Campbell's way of talking in simple terms, which he does in the Toms interviews even more succinct, for example when asked what religion is, he states simply: "All Religions are misinterpretations of Myths". To anyone wanting to know Campbell's insights and convictions, I highly recommend "An Open Life" with Michael Toms. But seeing him with Moyers, his facial expressions and idiosyncracies, is worth getting the DVDs.
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on April 9, 2010
I am sorry to see that, of this writing, this almost legendary (well it is legendary in terms of the subject, but in terms of the quality too) 5 1/2 hour interview is only available as an absurdly overpriced used item. I am sure it will be available again. Perhaps Criterion or someone will touch up the video and add some previously unreleased footage and re-release it. The version I have is marred by hotspots, a lack of sharpness, and poor color, but that in no way held this viewer back from drinking in every fascinating minute. Other reviewers have made a lot of useful comments about the content, so I won't harp on that subject. I will say that, if you have any serious interest in the narrative arts, or the development of human thought, or mythology, or attempts by the human race to represent and comprehend life in any way, then you will find this video to be an invaluable viewing experience. Of course, a serious perusal of Campbell's writings, some of which were illustrated, like this video was (with short clips and still images), would give you more information. Campbell had a Jungian approach to the study of world mythology, and he had the gift of communicating this subject in a way that is engaging but not watered down. One of the pleasures of this masterpiece is watching the appreciative back and forth between a gifted interviewer, Bill Moyers (who was often lobbing softballs to his subject, but so what), and the charismatic and down-to-earth scholar, Professor Campbell. This is first-rate performance as well as superb presentation and subject matter.
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on November 23, 2007
Joseph Campbell was an amazing man full of insight and understanding of the religions of the world and how they all are the same metaphorically, and they all share common themes since the dawn of time. I will share some of his perceptions and thoughts that are reoccurring throughout this 6-hour DVD. Every chapter is spellbinding, delightful and distinctive. There is a wealth of information here that will inspire anyone to a spiritual life and the wonders of the great mysteries of life and God as Campbell sees him. Joseph Campbell was an enlightened man full of the wonder and joy of life. Just watching him I feel a deep sense of connection to God and the mysteries of the universal cosmic truths.

Myths and dreams are transformations of consciousness and are the way to a deep rich life of mystery; transforming thought. The Ego is the dragon holding you in and keeping you small. Following your bliss by doing what brings you vitality within yourself saves the world. The Buddha says that Nirvana is a psychological state of mind that is not compelled by desire, fear or social commitments or acting out of our own center. We are all seeking an experience of being alive; we are not seeking meaning of life since there is none really. It's the inner value we seek and it is not in what we do. The ultimate mystery of being transcends thought and cannot be understood. God is transcendent and God is within our world, others and us. Eternity is here and now. This is it and we must get it from within ourselves not out there and not after we die! We cannot concretize that symbols as fact. Jesus did not ascend up but within us. All the symbols are metaphors and are not fact. We are all manifestations of Buddha consciousness. Jesus is within us all just as are heaven, and Hell and all the Gods. Inward we are the source. All religions are true for their time. Open up to the mysteries of life of all things, and make a choice to stay in your life and realize the truth and depth of your experience of your own being through consciousness and bliss. Experience it here and now.

Do not judge. Open-up and love thy enemy. These, Campbell says, are Jesus' greatest teachings.

We need to shift the perception to joyful participation in the sorrows of life and everything changes. Find the immoveable center within yourself and we can survive anything and float down the stream of life. To save the world we must save ourselves. The influence of a vital person vitalizes the world. The world is a wasteland and we cannot save the world by shifting it around. Bring it to life by being alive yourself.

Choose to affirm life. Life is great say yes to it. It is a childish way of thinking to say no to life with all its pain. We all participate in evil. No matter what we do it's evil to somebody. If all the universe is Divine how can we say no to anything in the world? Brutality, stupidity, thoughtless ness and suffering; we must say yes. Affirm the world and life. We are not to judge anything. This is the greatest teaching of Jesus. Affirm both good and evil. Do not withdrawal from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but see the horror as the foreground of a wonder. Come back and participate in it.

To be spiritual we need a deep sense of mystery of the dimension of the universe that is not available to the senses. Divinity is the realization of wonder that is much larger then the human dimension. Divinity is just what we think. God is a metaphor of what is guiding you and comes from within. The transcendent mystery is where we come from and we do not have to identify it. I am the vehicle radiant of the spirit, as we all are. The virgin birth is the symbol of the birth of the heart to the awakening of the spiritual life in accord with another or a principle. To not be driven by the lower centers of lust, greed, power and wanting but to be driven from the compassion of the heart to open-up to the realization that God is within the other and us; a whole new life comes.

The ultimate mystery is finding God within you. That God is within us just as he is within the earth and all of nature and everything. God is everywhere. This is the real truth- He is not up in the sky separate from us, but within us and around us supporting us always, and we just need to become awake to this fact. I can see why the goal is to die before we die. To die to our animal and material nature and become reborn to the spiritual nature, which is our true nature.

And he often mentions how we are to live our lives in accord with nature and to worship nature just as most of the world does. Western Christian thought sees nature as fallen and our religion is one of exile that nature is fallen and evil. This is ridiculous Campbell says because what else do we have to worship then nature? All other religions but Christianity, teach to live in accord with nature and the God's are much more elemental of the earth. We come from the earth and are a part of the Earth not separate from it.

Here is a quote from Chief Seattle that Campbell dictates and lives by:
"Will you teach your children what we teach our children, that the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. Earth does not belong to man; Man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. What he does to the web he does to himself. One thing we know, our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of man? When the view of the ripe hills is blocked by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone. Where will the eagle be? Gone. What is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival."
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on January 15, 2004
Joseph Campbell was a teacher of the great spiritual truths from all of the world's religions. Campbell shows us the difference between connotation and denotation and invites us to read the mythology of the world as a field of reference that refers directly to the transcendent. Mythology is a complicated language built on metaphors that can stump the ill-advised. In this series of interviews we learn that the organs of the body are in conflict with one another and the conflict is externalized by the creative power of our mythic imagination. The interviews are sprinkled with clips of fascinating footage from cultures around the world as well as works of art and brief illustrated stories set to music.
Bill Moyers asks Campbell questions in a sometimes rigid and stilted voice but his heart is in the right place and he is certainly barking up the right tree. Together they explore difficult questions about the state of the world and the continuing relevance of mythology in rapidly changing times. Campbell as a teacher is gentle and inspires us to move forward along the course of our own lives armed with the tools of perception, wisdom and reflection. Along the way there are warnings about the dangers of rigid adherence to systems that threaten to overpower our own humanity. There are also invitations to see what is beautiful. Man has struggled over the ages to come to terms with a world that is at once both nurturing and threatening. In this modern world we wait for men like Joseph Campbell to come along and offer us the historical perspective and mental architecture that will help us build a healthy and functioning world view. We are challenged to do nothing less than bring forth the full potential of our beings for our own benefit and for the benefit of those around us. Watching these DVD's is about one of the best ways a person can spend some free time, there are very important conversations to explore here.
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on April 2, 2012
I first saw "The Power of Myth" on PBS when it originally aired. I was so impacted that I borrowed the taped episodes from my local library, copied them all onto 1 VHS tape, & played them repeatedly until the tape dissolved from over-use. It has taken me years to finally add the DVD version to my collection, and I couldn't be more pleased! The "special features" include much material that wasn't in the original 60-minute programs, and there is soooo much to learn from Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers in their conversations that I recommend this without reservation to anyone with a broad, inquiring mind. We really do "want to know!" Joseph Campbell is so easy to watch and to listen to that one really can see these over and over again, gaining new insights with each viewing. He is truly a teacher for the ages.
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