Author Topic: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?  (Read 46283 times)

DavidOR

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2007, 08:08:05 PM »
Film is near and dear to my heart.  I started out in Jungian stuff three years ago now.  back then I was looking for "Jungian" films to watch.  Over the years I've learned almost any film can be viewed through Jungian or depth psychology lenses.  Here are ten favorites in no particular order. ~ David

1. Dreams, Kurosawa
2. Kontroll, Nimrůd Antal
3. Where green the ants dream, werner herzog
4. Lady in the water, Shyamalan
5. Open your eyes, Alejandro Amenabar (Also its' american counterpart) Vanilla Sky
6. Republic of love, Deepa Mehta
7. Brazil, terry gilliam
8. Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo Del Toro
9. Waking life, Richard Linklater
10. Blade Runner, Ridley Scott

Sealchan

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2007, 04:49:51 PM »
I thought that The Fisher King was a great Jungian inspired movie.  A great quaternic set of higher and lower "marriages" of opposites.  It favors the ego-anima development but I think it comes close to offering some ego-animus content as well.

Anyone have a movie that does a Phantom of the Opera/V for Vendetta level of animus story and the typical ego-anima development as well?






Matt Koeske

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« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2007, 06:03:46 PM »
I hadn't thought of it originally, but since I have had to watch at least part of this film nearly every few days (to appease my two year old son), it eventually dawned on me how perfectly Jungian it was.

The move is Pixar's Cars.  It's very decidedly a kid's movie . . . much more so than recent animated films like The Incredibles or Shrek (both of which are also great films, although not very "Jungian").  Thus, my two year old loves it even if he can't really follow much.  But if one looks deeper than the kidification of the film, one will see a very nice individuation story.

There are even a number of wonderful, very subtle symbols along the way.  When the ego-hero character, Lightning McQueen has to do community service for destroying the main road in the forgotten Route 66 town of Radiator Springs, he is harnessed to a large road paving machine ("Bessie") that splatters a bit of black tar on his "lucky (lightning bolt) sticker", which remains there throughout the rest of his indenture (blotting out his identity . . . which means nothing to anyone in this little town, no matter how famous he might be in the "real" world).

The main road through Radiator Springs that Lightning ruins (and must repave) w/ Cozy Cone Motel on left:


Lightning first finds meaning in being in Radiator Springs (even if he is a prisoner) when he surprisingly loses a race to the old car, Doc Hudson, because he wasn't able to make a turn on a dirt track.  After this, he feels compelled to figure out how to make this turn without skidding off the track). Later Doc tells him that "If you're going hard enough left, you'll find yourself turning right."  The trick that Lightning has to learn (and finally does, employing it in his final big race) is to be able go left and turn right (while sliding) simultaneously in order to stay on the track.  Not a bad metaphor for working with the instinctual unconscious instead of against it (working with instinct is like going with the skid).

The petulant Lightning replies to Doc's advice: "Oh, right. That makes perfect sense. Turn right to go left. Yes, thank you! Or should I say, no thank you. Because in Opposite World, maybe that really means thank you."

Doc demonstrating:


In another scene, the female "love-interest" car, Sally (an anima figure who is like a more evolved/enlightened version of Lightning McQueen) asks Lightning if he would like to stay in the hotel she runs called the Cozy Cone.  He replies (roughly), "Yeah, it's like a clever twist on caution cones, which, of course, cars usually try to avoid.  But now we're staying in them."

Sally nicknames Lightning, "Stickers", because he (as a race car) has no headlights (because he lives in a place where "the track is always lit").  His inability to see in the dark is what gets him lost and arrested accidentally in Radiator Springs.

Mater, an old tow truck who becomes Lightning's new best friend, teaches Lightning how to drive backwards (also employed in Lightning's final race) . . . which Lightning originally says "freaks him out".  Mater explains the value of "rear-view mirrors".

After Lightning has loosened up a bit and started falling in love with Sally, they go on a drive together where she shows him the true beauty of this forgotten land and tells him how the town used to thrive until it was bypassed by a new interstate that only saved 10 minutes of driving time.

Quote
Sally: Forty years ago, that interstate down there didn't exist.
Lightning McQueen: Really?
Sally: Yeah. Back then, cars came across the country a whole different way.
Lightning McQueen: How do you mean?
Sally: Well, the road didn't cut through the land like that interstate. It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn't drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.

Ornament Valley, home to radiator Springs:


This scene takes place across from an abandoned Route 66 motel called the "Wheel Well" that Sally explains used to be the most popular stop on the "Mother Road" (the nickname for Route 66).  In this scene, the three fuel pumps that once stood in front of the entrance to the Wheel Well are ripped out (leaving only rusted foundations behind).  After Lightning learns how to value Radiator Springs (or his unconscious) and sacrifices a victory in his final race to help a wrecked car cross the finish line, he decides to make radiator Springs his home base, reinvigorating the town, putting it back on the map.  The Wheel Well is shown again with its three fuel pumps restored.

Throughout the movie there are many more symbols and Jungian themes.

I didn't think much about it at first, but I started to realize that I was having a very strong, unconscious emotional reaction to the movie that only grew stronger after repeated viewings.  Then it dawned on me that the story resonates very powerfully with my own symbol system.

You may or may not have noticed that I have a book of poems called What the Road Can Afford.  The Road plays a huge role in my personal mythology (as I relate this Road to a devotion to the Work).  A film about a hero who destroys and must rebuild a road is about as close as one can come to this personal symbol of mine.  The entire film, Cars, is about a process of re-valuating something that has been neglected, forgotten, or disposed of (not a "heroic" conquering) . . . and I frequently refer to the Work as a "re-valuation process" (rather than an enlightenment or "attainment" of higher consciousness).

Recently I had a dream in which an old BMW I used to own that burst into flames in my driveway one day (and I previously dreamed about as a symbol of Jungian psychology) was fixed after I installed a new spark plug and rolled it over (it was upside down).  When I started it up, it roared to life, sounding just like Lightning McQueen.  It was at this point that I really understood how profoundly this movie had affected me.  In essence, I learned to re-value it (something I had originally dismissed as nothing but a little kid's movie fetishizing cars).

So, basically, I give it my highest recommendation.  See it.  If you've already seen it, see it again.  And think Jungian while you watch.  This film is amazingly rich while also being very succinct (symbolically).  It is a wonderful portrayal of an individuation (perhaps as good as that in any film I've seen).

-Matt



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Sealchan

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2008, 11:43:30 AM »
Then, of course, there is the explicitly Campbell inspired Star Wars trilogy (see Bill Moyer's The Power of Myth).  I see Campbell as deeply inspired by Jung but, perhaps, equally by parallel work in anthropology and comparative folklore.

I came to Jung via Campbell in my own studies.

Matt Koeske

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2008, 01:54:11 PM »
I thought that The Fisher King was a great Jungian inspired movie.  A great quaternic set of higher and lower "marriages" of opposites.  It favors the ego-anima development but I think it comes close to offering some ego-animus content as well.

Anyone have a movie that does a Phantom of the Opera/V for Vendetta level of animus story and the typical ego-anima development as well?

Hi Chris,

I don't remember if I mentioned it elsewhere, but the best male-ego/anima work film I can think of is David Cronenberg's adaptation of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch.  It's an extremely surreal film (like a nightmarish dream) . . . but with a very coherent archetypal narrative (which doesn't exist in the book).  I highly recommend it, but be prepared for Cronenbergian weirdness (e.g., living insect typewriters that talk out of their anuses).  It's less an homage to Burroughs' writing than a completely independent and personal creation of Cronenberg's.

Anima figures are extremely common in fantasy films, of course, but it is still very rare to see portrayals of the "anima work proper".  Many anima stories that make it into pop culture are little more than anima-gawkings or what the Jungians like to call "anima-possession" stories.  These would be stories that leave the anima on a pedestal but never depict the integration of the anima and the heroic sacrifice that results in her depotentiation/death.

Naked Lunch is much more sophisticated, not only about the anima work in general, but about the equivocation the male ego feels around the anima and her "universe".  Cronenberg takes an event from Burroughs' real life and uses the fictional universe from Burroughs' book to construct a myth around it.  The real life event is the "accidental" murder of Burroughs' wife.  Supposedly, he and his wife used to perform a trick together for the amusement and astonishment of their friends.  She would place something on her head, and he would shoot it off with a pistol: the "William Tell Routine".  Well, needless to say, one time he missed and shot his wife dead.  Whether or not there was a potential (psychological) motivation for this was never publicly known.  But I think it happened in Mexico or somewhere out of the U.S.  Burroughs fled the country and returned to the U.S. to escape the law.

Of course, from at least that time onward, Burroughs was a self-acknowledged homosexual.

Cronenberg weaves this into a myth of loss/depression/descent, discovery, and sacrifice . . . and captures Borroughs' complex and equivocal feelings about his own homosexuality, using it for what amounts to be a "Jungian" confrontation with the shadow.  Also, William Lee's (i.e., Burroughs) alchemical "dissolution" and "reconstitution" is portrayed through the device of his drug addiction and hallucination . . . which he gradually comes to cure by increasingly cutting his heroine with a non-addictive substance until he is weaned from the heroine addiction.  A fantastic and fantastically complex film that was just too "out there" for many people to get.  I think even many Jungians would not "get it", because the conventional Jungian understanding of the anima work remains incomplete.  But in my opinion, there is no other film or modern story that says as much about the anima work as Naked Lunch.  It's the gold standard.

-Matt
You can always come back, but you canít come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2008, 02:11:37 PM »


Oh yes . . . and also check out the film of The English Patient based on Michael Ondaatje's amazing novel for a good portrayal of the anima work.  I had initially forgotten about it, because the book is really much richer (in the Jungian/mythological sense) . . . and doesn't focus as much attention of the anima work aspect of the story.  The film gives much more screen time to this, though (by which I mean the romance between Almasy and Katharine).  In the book, the focus is on a very intricate animus story (with a "triple animus") . . . and the anima work part comes in as a backdrop or foundation for Almasy's character.  We could say that he has Fallen, because he tried to "possess" the anima and she was therefore taken away from him.  His Wound (his horrible, identity-removing burn) is the mark of this Fall (quite literally as well as figuratively) . . . and his "healing" (and ability to finally die) comes through his retelling of his story to his nurse, Hana.  By weaving it into a myth (and a gift to Hana), he learns to construct a functional fiction our of his Wound/complex.

I've pimped The English Patient a number of times.  In my opinion it is the most complex and the most important "Jungian" story we have today.  I.e., most important because it is a myth of modern masculinity . . . where most of our myths are really quite archaic.  That is, I think Ondaatje reached into the mythic, instinctual roots but expressed this in a new and more modern (more accurate) language.

The film is also good and has a lot of archetypal symbolism too it . . . but the book is very clearly a work of archetypal/symbolic literature (and can be read like a massive dream).

It gets my highest possible recommendation.

-Matt
You can always come back, but you canít come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Malcolm Timbers

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2008, 03:22:33 PM »
I would really like to contribute to this thread but I am busy trying to finish my new book about a modern Alice's adventures.

One should keep in mind that Hollywood has already canned Jung and many of their productions are formula concoctions and hardly worth getting too excited over the idea of finding something original. For originality, one has to look at the movies that are based upon the writings of creative individuals.

In Alice's story, I have drawn upon the Dracula myth and the Snow White fairytale as well as the usual Greek myths that have been associated with anorexia nervosa. I have also mentioned several films to illustrate the archetypal phenomenon of the underlying fantasies that transpire in the psychic background of an anorexic without her having the foggiest idea about it.

Sealchan

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2008, 04:16:06 PM »
Quote
One should keep in mind that Hollywood has already canned Jung and many of their productions are formula concoctions and hardly worth getting too excited over the idea of finding something original. For originality, one has to look at the movies that are based upon the writings of creative individuals.

It is difficult to differentiate a so-called Jungian film because Jung didn't precisely develop anything new, he "only" revealed the patterns underlying mythic stories and fantasies.

But the individual artist has a psyche and does not necessarily need to know Jungian psychology to access Jungian psychology.  He just needs to have a psyche and for Jung to be correct about that psyche.

So, perhaps, the more differentiated question for this thread is...

What are the Top Ten "Jungian" Films that are explicitly influenced by Jung?

or

What are the Top Ten "Jungian" Films that uniquely demonstrate Jung's insights?

...because just as with myths formulated centuries before Jung was born are amenible to a Jungian analysis (and therefore might appear to be influenced by Jungian thought) so too are more recent stories.

What is interesting to me is how cartoons and the recent influx of Fantasy movies tend to show up the archetypal much better.  This is presumably an unconscious artifact of these respective genre's and the values in those genre's that their respective author's find in them.

My own dream work is based on an effort to refer back to the motifs encountered in dreams.  I use Jung as a theoretical launching point and I have seen Jung's and other Jungian perspectives demonstrated by the "hard data" of actual dreams.  But I could find myself wandering away from Jung and formulating motifs based on neural architecture or just the patterns themselves independently of Jung's particular concepts.  The endurance of Jung's ideas may depend on if his terminology is efficient and explanatory as time goes on.  As such I have begun to see how my approach to dream work could veer into the realm of literary analysis.

On that note it is interesting to see how this Wikipedia article describes the brief period of influence that archetypal literary criticism had in that area of scholarship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archetypal_literary_criticism


Malcolm Timbers

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2008, 02:17:51 PM »
When I said that Holliwood already canned Jung, I meant that they have developed a formula based upon Jungian psychology's understanding of the stuff in mythology that will arouse emotions and enchant the audience.

I didn't suggest that artists are using this "easy path" to success, only the fabricators who rework the works of artists. Many children's stories are based upon canned stuff and are otherwise devoid of any real creativity.

Matt Koeske

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2008, 02:48:13 PM »
When I said that Holliwood already canned Jung, I meant that they have developed a formula based upon Jungian psychology's understanding of the stuff in mythology that will arouse emotions and enchant the audience.

I didn't suggest that artists are using this "easy path" to success, only the fabricators who rework the works of artists. Many children's stories are based upon canned stuff and are otherwise devoid of any real creativity.

Malcolm, do you think the Hollywood writers often really understand the archetypes they draw on as "Jungian" . . . even in a very simplistic, adulterated way?  I often get the feeling from the more archetypal films I've seen that the archetypal themes are generated unconsciously. 

Sometimes not.  For instance, I am willing to bet that the Wachowski brothers applied some Jungian theory consciously in V for VendettaThe Fisher King also seems to have drawn intentionally from some Jungian influences (and Terry Gilliam is clearly a fairytale and perhaps a Jungian buff).  But then I think of the Disney-Pixar film, Cars, that I seriously doubt was intentionally "Jungian".

As a creative writer who is also a Jungian, I have found the intentional application of Jungian ideas to my poetry and fiction very difficult to pull off gracefully.  In fact, the idea seems so cumbersome to me, that I never try to apply Jungian ideas.  I always strive for conveying the psychic material that is just beyond my ego's grasp.  But in the process of revision, I spot the archetypal themes and may find ways to help cultivate them (i.e., get my ego clutter out of their way as much as possible).

As for Hollywood writers, I think of them more as applying general formulas to story-making more so than archetypes.  Have you seen the Coen Brothers film, Barton Fink?  It's another excellent anima work film (forgot to mention it above).  In the film, Barton is recruited as a Hollywood writer and instructed to produce a "B-Picture", wrestling movie . . . but he feels so disenfranchised by its mundanity, that he falls into a "creative impotence" (which is where the anima and shadow work begin).  None of the Hollywood execs understand why he can't crank out this simplistic piece of crap or why the prospect of writing it sends him into an existential crisis.

If you haven't seen it, it's worth checking out.  A great and wonderfully bizarre film . . . and very symbolic/archetypal.

And, Sealchan, if you are still looking for films that depict more complex versions of the anima work, add this one to the top of your list.

-Matt
You can always come back, but you canít come back all the way.

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Sealchan

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2008, 03:24:44 PM »
Quote
When I said that Holliwood already canned Jung, I meant that they have developed a formula based upon Jungian psychology's understanding of the stuff in mythology that will arouse emotions and enchant the audience.

I didn't suggest that artists are using this "easy path" to success, only the fabricators who rework the works of artists. Many children's stories are based upon canned stuff and are otherwise devoid of any real creativity.

Did Hollywood develop this?  Or has this been the art and manipulative mastery of all oral storytellers and writers over the eons? 

It has often been stated that the success of the movie Star Wars was due to the fact that is so well followed the tried and true form of the Hero's Journey as outlined by Campbell and as consciously referenced by the creator of Star Wars George Lucas.  But was it Jungian scholarship that sold the movie or was it real connection to archetypal motifs?

I have read somewhere that the most trashy romance novels and gratuitous adventure tales are often great examples of archetypal themes.  It is just that they are mildly entertaining to the averaged majority and are not innovative enough for those who have a more focused and discerning awareness.  The authors know the twists and turns that capture the reader's interest if not their broader discernment.

Great story-tellers like Shakespeare "simply" pack more archetypal content in per paragraph and also incorporate a broader range of human experience in a well-balanced way. 

Quote
And, Sealchan, if you are still looking for films that depict more complex versions of the anima work, add this one to the top of your list.

Thanks, I will keep that in mind.  But if you can think of a movie that also has swords, lasers or spaceships in it that would be better for me.  (-)laugh2(-)

Matt Koeske

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2008, 03:51:38 PM »
Thanks, I will keep that in mind.  But if you can think of a movie that also has swords, lasers or spaceships in it that would be better for me.  (-)laugh2(-)

Ah, you're a man of my own heart!  (-)cheers(-)

No lasers or spaceships, but have you seen House of Flying Daggers?  It has swords a plenty!  And a pretty good anima story . . . but it loses a little archetypal coherence at times (that is, it's hard to peg the characters to specific archetypes consistently throughout the film) .  It isn't really a successful individuation story.  Beautiful film, though.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon has some great archetypal themes, but it is more of an animus movie.

But, yeah, I'm ready for another great, archetypal, space movie.  Joss Whedon's abbreviated TV series Firefly and the feature film based on it, Serenity, were excellent, but their mythos is more existentialist than Jungian, per se.

I recently re-watched the Star Wars films with Leo (I think his favorite character is Darth Vader, which is somehow perfectly appropriate, no?  (-)laugh2(-)) and then started Avatar: The Last Airbender right on their tail . . . and I have to say, even though Star Wars was a big, big deal in my childhood, Avatar, in both its mythology and its execution, is just infinitely better.  I can't say enough good about that show.  Leo, Christy, and I are all totally transfixed and have just finished watching the second season.

The last two episodes of the first season have an anima theme this is very archetypal . . . and complete (in the sense that the anima work ends with the depotentiation of the anima as she merges back into the non-personal, mythic/archetypal realm).  But in general, Avatar is a hero's journey tale with a lot of emphasis on the shadow (elicited by the wonderfully angry and scarred, Prince Zuko . . . who is everything Annakin Skywalker should have been and then some).  I'm sure you would really enjoy the show.

-Matt
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2008, 04:00:09 PM »

Oh, another good, Jungian animus film I recently saw was Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle.  Very much worth seeing.  I purchased it for my growing collecting of Jungian films.  There is, I think, some kind of "animus push" going on in the "collective unconscious".  My guess is that this is due not only to women engaged in the animus work, but also to "post-feminist" men who have done some anima work and are now moving on to the "redemption of the Masculine" from archaic patriarchy.  Most of the animus stories coming out in film and literature are written by men.  And perhaps it is an instinctually driven way of men telling women (and other men, of course) what it is like or what it means to be a man . . . resembling the way women brought the Feminine into consciousness for men during the feminist movements.
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Malcolm Timbers

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2008, 07:46:00 PM »
Matt Koeske said, "Malcolm, do you think the Hollywood writers often really understand the archetypes they draw on as "Jungian" . . . even in a very simplistic, adulterated way?  I often get the feeling from the more archetypal films I've seen that the archetypal themes are generated unconsciously."

Actually, I should have included Campbell, Sir James Frazer and a whole lot of other scholars.

The movie Apocalypse Now (1979) uses Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough as a paradigm for the movie's plot. In fact, Col. Kirtz has a copy of The Golden Bough on his desk suggesting that he wants to end his days in the manner of the primordial king who is killed by the hero. If this copy of The Golden Bough was not pictured in the film, one might suppose that the writers conjured this plot up from a Jungian version of the Oedipus complex (as opposed to the Freudian version). The Oedipus scenario appears in alchemy whereby the alchemical king is ritually killed.

I speculate that Hollywood has Jungian analysts as consultants on various projects. After all, millions of dollars are at stake in the production of a film.

Malcolm Timbers

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Re: Top Ten "Jungian" Films?
« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2008, 03:27:24 PM »
Quote
When I said that Holliwood already canned Jung, I meant that they have developed a formula based upon Jungian psychology's understanding of the stuff in mythology that will arouse emotions and enchant the audience.

I didn't suggest that artists are using this "easy path" to success, only the fabricators who rework the works of artists. Many children's stories are based upon canned stuff and are otherwise devoid of any real creativity.

Did Hollywood develop this?  Or has this been the art and manipulative mastery of all oral storytellers and writers over the eons? 

It has often been stated that the success of the movie Star Wars was due to the fact that is so well followed the tried and true form of the Hero's Journey as outlined by Campbell and as consciously referenced by the creator of Star Wars George Lucas.  But was it Jungian scholarship that sold the movie or was it real connection to archetypal motifs?

I have read somewhere that the most trashy romance novels and gratuitous adventure tales are often great examples of archetypal themes.  It is just that they are mildly entertaining to the averaged majority and are not innovative enough for those who have a more focused and discerning awareness.  The authors know the twists and turns that capture the reader's interest if not their broader discernment.

Great story-tellers like Shakespeare "simply" pack more archetypal content in per paragraph and also incorporate a broader range of human experience in a well-balanced way. 

Quote
And, Sealchan, if you are still looking for films that depict more complex versions of the anima work, add this one to the top of your list.

Thanks, I will keep that in mind.  But if you can think of a movie that also has swords, lasers or spaceships in it that would be better for me.  (-)laugh2(-)

Although Star Wars was a fabrication, it is still packed with archetypal stuff that is a big turn on for individuals who are unaware of the fabrication.

The Children's stories that I refer to are the new ones that mix archetypal stuff with technological themes and sociological ideals.

Some of the Science fiction film dealing with aliens may not be understood by their makers, and then maybe they are a fabrication. Many deal with the same theme, that of something that symbolizes the unconscious that was buried deep in the earth and suddenly became active at the same time that mankind developed technology. The reason that I am suspicious that the creators of these plots may not be aware of the archetypal nature of their creations is that an understanding of the archetypal message might not be welcome.

The unconscious message suggests that the unconscious is in a wrathful mood over the way that mankind is using technology. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein dealt with this subject a long time ago. I make mention of Shelley's Frankenstein in my book project. That is, the Frankenstein monster, strangely, has the the same outlook upon life as many self-destructive individuals possess. That is, a feeling that one is horribly ugly and unable to find anyone who will ever truly love him/her; a sense of isolation and an affinity for a dreamscape of a frozen wasteland. This story was not a fabrication, but a revelation of psychological significance.