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The Power of Myth

4.3 out of 5 stars 244 customer reviews

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(Oct 09, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An exhilarating journey into the mind and spirit of a remarkable man, a legendary teacher, and a masterful storyteller, conducted by TV journalist Bill Moyers in the acclaimed PBS series. Includes The Hero's Adventure, The Message of the Myth, The First Storytellers, Sacrifice and Bliss, Love and the Goddess, Masks of Eternity. 360 minutes.

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Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth is essential viewing for anyone old enough to appreciate its vital teachings. One of the greatest interviews ever recorded, this six-part, six-hour encounter between teacher- mythologist Campbell and student-journalist Bill Moyers (recorded in the two years preceding Campbell's death in 1988) covers a galaxy of topics related to Campbell's central themes: Mythology is humanity's universal method of seeking the transcendental, and "follow your bliss" is the timeless formula for spiritual satisfaction. Campbell himself is the embodiment of these themes, an erudite scholar and quintessential storyteller, recalling a wide spectrum of myths from throughout history (Japanese, Native American, Egyptian, Mayan, and many more) to illustrate humankind's eternal quest to grasp the mysteries of creation. Historical artifacts and illustrations bring these timeless stories to life.

An astute interviewer, Moyers is an acolyte in perfect harmony with Campbell-as- mentor, wording questions with penetrating perfection as their intellectual dance reaches exhilarating heights of meaning and fascination. Moyers also finds the perfect hook for a global audience, examining Campbell's admiration of George Lucas's Star Wars saga as a popular tapestry of ancient myths, and Lucas himself is interviewed in a DVD bonus segment ("I'm not creating a new myth," he says, "but telling old myths in a new way"). Campbell's seemingly endless well of knowledge reaches a simple conclusion: we need myths to survive like we need oxygen to breathe, as a life force with which to understand our existence--past, present, and future. --Jeff Shannon


Special Features

  • Six hours on two DVDs: The Hero's Adventure, The Message of the Myth, The First Storytellers, Sacrifice and Bliss, Love and the Goddess, Masks of Eternity
  • Bonus interview with George Lucas: "The Mythology of Star Wars" (14 min.)
  • Biographies and bibliographies of Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers
  • Art gallery
  • Selections from the video Sukhavati: Place of Bliss
  • Selected Campbell videography

Product Details

  • Actors: Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers, George Lucas
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Mystic Fire Video / Wellspring
  • DVD Release Date: October 9, 2001
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005MEVQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,717 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Power of Myth" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is the edited version of the hundreds of rolls of tapes that Bill Moyers shot of his long socratean dialogues with Joseph Campbell shortly before Joseph Campbell's death in 1987.
The entire collection is split up into six succinct subject-sequences where Moyers and his editor took different parts of the dialogues and organized them together thematically. The Hero's Adventure talks about the existence of the idea of the hero in lots of cultures and what role he or she plays in its mythology. The Message of the Myth talks more about the Jungian idea of the existence of archtypes of the collective unconscious and the metaphorical implications of many well-known myths from various cultures. The First Storytellers talks about the way environment and the basic necessities of everyday life affects the way the earlier hunting and gathering cultures created much of their mythologies and how they came to terms with the way they had to survive through the use of myths. Sacrifice and Bliss talks about the changes that came over different cultures when they changed from herding cultures to aggrarian cultures and how they changed their mythologies to suit their new ways of living and also the importance of the idea of the "here and now"; how heaven and nirvana and things of that sort are not physical places but a metaphorical place within your metaphorical heart and that "bliss" is only to be found in the present as you live your own life in the here and the in the now.
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Format: DVD
Of my two favorite memories of Campbell's talks with Bill Moyers of PBS in this video, the one that comes to mind is an introduction between Campbell and a Catholic Priest, perhaps a Cardinal, that he retells. After they are introduced and the Priest is told who Dr. Campbell is and a little about his life, he asks him, "Are you still Catholic?" To which he replies "No, Father." He then asks--and Campbell was impressed by his specificity--"Do you believe in a *personal* God?" To which Campbell replies, "No, Father."
The Priest then replies, almost as if to engage in a debate and denigrate the atheist's worship of the rational mind uber alles simultaneously (and an atheist is what you are led to assume he thinks Campbell is), "Well, I guess there is no way to logically prove the existence of God." And Campbell answers, calmly, "If there were Father, what would be the value of faith?"
"It's been a pleasure meeting you Dr. Campbell, have a nice day."
Regardless of your faith, interest, background or education, you will find yourself in the same shoes of that Priest when you watch this incredibly enjoyable DVD set. Campbell's erudition and knowledge of the many ideas, subtexts and similarities inherent in the world's treasure trove of mythology is daunting to say the least, and his approach is designed to have it all make sense to the modern human heart.
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Format: DVD
When I first watched the Moyers-Campbell exchange in the early 1990s on PBS, I understood very little of what Campbell said. I was still "seeing" myths, etc. from the "disciplined" perspectives of religion or science (psychology, structural anthropology, etc.) and I tried to fit his comments into "my" world view.
I have just finished rewatching the DVD version of these taped interviews, and I now understand more of what Campbell is saying. I've been watching this series with another person who is "searching" and he keeps saying "I don't get that." I want to help him "get it" and I sometimes feel I must appear like Burt Reynolds in one of his films where he took a "New Age" course and rolled on the floor and said "I've got it!!" Campbell says, when you think you've got it you haven't. So all I can say is--I feel I've got something more than I had.
Campbell says human beings will die for a metaphor. We are like the 10 blind men with the elephant--each with a part of the whole, interpreting it through our cultural spectacles. And many of us will die for our interpretation of what "God" is. Even the word "God" is connotive of a belief system. One has only to look at the ideological conflicts the world over to see the results of differing world views. And, it isn't just "religion" either. Beliefs systems underlie economic behaviour as well. Everyone has a belief system--the alternative is madness, which is probably yet another belief system of some sort.
For those raised in a religious tradition (most of us) the notion of giving up the idea of a personal god is painful. And yet, Campbell says one must give up this idea--and that is all it is--an idea.
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