I have to admit, I am no big fangirl of Christopher Vogler’s “Hero’s Journey“. At least as long as someone tries to fit his or her idea into this theorie, no matter what – but that will not work with any other screenwriting theory as well.
I find it very strange that many diagrams on the Hero’s Journey simply convert the cycle of the journey to the linear model of the good old 3 act structure. What happens is that the showdown of the 3rd act all of a sudden is at the end of the 2nd act while the 3rd act is simply the return of the hero. I don’t know how you feel about this, but I am always getting lost and feeling confused in the end. But I must say that I really like playing around with the archetypes for character development.
Now I found an article, written by Christopher Vogler himself, where he breaks down the Hero’s Journey for short films like commercials and so on. This I find very interesting because by doing that he explains the essence of his theory.
SO…the absolute bare minimum, I would venture, is
1. an implied Ordinary World,
2. an efficient Call to Adventure,
3. a distinct Threshold Crossing,
4. a death-and-rebirth Ordeal(or Resurrection) and
5. a Reward (or Return with the Elixir).
In reality, almost always the other pieces are either implied or present in truncated form, and the audience will labor mightily to fill in any blanks you leave. For example, the audience will fill in a wild night of partying if you just show a teenager sneaking into the house at 4 in the morning.
Also, I found that link again to Christophe Voglers seven page memo where he laid out his ideas about using Joseph Campbell’s theory fot screenwriting for the first time. It is a real gem of screenwriting history. Read the whole memo here.