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The Power of Myth

4.3 out of 5 stars 244 customer reviews

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(Sep 21, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

The seminal PBS series on world mythology

"Dazzling and still potently relevant" --San Francisco Chronicle
"Fascinating" --The New York Times
"Compelling" --The Wall Street Journal
"Stirring and elevating" --Los Angeles Times

These stimulating conversations between inspirational scholar Joseph Campbell and veteran journalist Bill Moyers created a national sensation when they first aired on public television. In lively, expansive dialogues, the two men discuss how myths hold the key to understanding human experience. They may vary superficially from culture to culture, but at their deepest level they all reveal the path to self-fulfillment, social integration, and ultimately, transcendence.

Join Campbell and Moyers as they touch on topics as diverse as world religions, marriage, the virgin birth, and pop culture. Filmed at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and New York’s American Museum of Natural History, this series fires the imagination and the intellect.

Joseph Campbell taught for nearly 40 years at Sarah Lawrence College; he authored and edited scores of books and inspired generations of scholars and artists.

Journalist Bill Moyers distinguished himself at Newsday, NBC, CBS, and PBS; his many honors include lifetime achievement Emmy® and Peabody awards.

Special Features

Never-before-released conversation with Campbell from Bill Moyers’ Journal
Selections from Moyers’ interview with Star Wars creator George Lucas
12-page viewer’s guide with profiles of artists influenced by Campbell, an essay on mythology in everyday life, Campbell biography, and animal symbolism in myths
Profiles of Campbell’s Influences, episode photo galleries, Bill Moyers biography, and excerpts from the film Sukhavati
SDH subtitles

Product Details

  • Actors: Joseph Campbell, George Lucas, Bill Moyers
  • Producers: Alvin H. Perlmutter, Joan Konner
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Athena
  • DVD Release Date: September 21, 2010
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,451 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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