Welcome to the Metaphysical Film School, a self-study guide and online resource for those interested in the mythological, symbolic and archetypal aspects of storytelling and cinema. Movies can be seen as modern versions of the ancient myths and classic wisdom stories of all ages. They engage us, entertain us, and tell us how to live in the world. We relate to the characters and situations on a deeply personal level, allowing us to live out our inner drives through the heroes and heroines on the screen.
Drawing from Ancient Wisdom, Mythology, Philosophy, Depth Psychology and Spiritual Texts, we will uncover some of the most significant aspects of mythic storytelling and show how you can recognize these tools to improve your own filmmaking projects, or, to simply enrich your movie watching experience.
Using the menu bar above, you can explore the following subjects and examples from various Movies. Also, there is a special section for Documentary filmmakers and those who enjoy the non-fiction genre:
Story: Myths are “stories the never were, but always are,” which is why they can be told and re-told and still remain relevant to our lives. Included among Joseph Campbell’s universal ‘Hero’s Journey’ are other useful guides and storytelling models for movies and short films.
Psyche: Movies are not just about situations; they’re about characters and what they go through, and good stories will take us along with them. The Hero takes an inner journey as well, requiring a significant psychological Transformation in order to achieve the outer goal.
Archetype: These universal patterns of personalities and situations exist in each of us, which is why we connect with archetypal characters and themes in movies. Archetypes are the keys to creating characters and stories that the audience can relate to on a personal level.
Symbol: Symbolism is the language of art, and in film, symbolism includes metaphor and allegory. Often, the best way to tell an engaging story is indirectly, through symbolic references. These can help underscore the story’s theme or mirror the character’s inner life.
Artists: Actors, Directors, Writers, Editors and other creative people involved in filmmaking can all benefit from a metaphysical viewpoint, yet each discipline has its own particular needs and modes of expression, which will be addressed here.
Chris Sheridan has an M.A. in Transformational Psychology and a B.A. in Communications. His personal documentary, Walk This Way, has won several prestigious awards, including the 1997 Student Academy® Award. He has taught film at Arizona State, Scottsdale Community College and has conducted workshops on the mythic and symbolic meanings in cinema.
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