Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers Break Down Star Wars as an Epic, Universal Myth

Some of Star Wars’ detractors call the original series schlocky, blunt, predictable, and implausible even by fantasy’s standards.

A defender might respond that they’re looking at it all wrong: to appreciate Star Wars, you need to watch it as an epic myth.

George Lucas himself, who has more or less mounted this argument in response to charges of unsubtlety, rarely seems far from dropping the phrase “the power of myth.” That, surely not coincidentally, is also the title of a 1988 Bill Moyerstelevision series on mythologist Joseph Campbell and his ideas about myth through time and across human cultures. Moyers and Campbell actually conducted their first five episodes’ worth of conversations at Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. Just as Lucas did his reading of Campbell, Campbell did his reading of Star Wars: in the brief clip from The Power of Myth above, the scholar expresses his enthusiasm for the films’ use of mythological elements drawn from across the world. (Find the complete Power of Myth series on DVD here.)

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