Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Minions' Journey

Kevin the Hero
Yesterday at Seaton House School I gave a short version of my Hero’s Journeys speech to 11-year-old girls and their families. As I spoke, I wondered if the steps of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth template applied to Minions, the movie. 

Here’s how you could do it:

1. The Hero’s World. 
The Minions have lots of worlds: underwater, onto the shore, the Age of Dinosaurs and Napoleon’s Army... until they are stuck in the Ice Cave. That is their World. At first they have fun: eating snow cones and building ice houses. But the Hero can’t stay in the world forever, so sometimes there is a whiff of death: the sense that if you stay somewhere any longer, you might as well be dead.

2. The Call to Adventure. 
Sometimes the call is a phone call, letter, or knock on the door. But it can also be that “whiff of death”. Joy has gone out of their lives as they play football with no enthusiasm; without a boss they have no purpose.

3. The Refusal of the Call
Most heros go on a quest to discover more about themselves. But the Minions know their calling. They are meant to be faithful sidekicks. One of the qualities of a side-kick is that they are easy-going and like to have fun. They don’t have to take responsibility. “But one minion had a PLAN. His name was Kevin.” Kevin’s plan is to leave the cave in search of a boss. He asks others to come with him. Bob is the only other Minion who really wants to go but Stuart gets persuaded. 

4. The Mentor
There really isn’t a Mentor in this story. And that means no talisman. It’s a fun step but this movie shows it’s not absolutely essential. 

5. Crossing the Threshold
There are several Crossings of the Threshold in the Minions movie. The first major one is where Kevin and his sidekicks leave the ice cave. They cross snow, polar bears, rivers and finally an ocean before they arrive in the World of Adventure: New York in 1968.

The Nelson family are evil allies
6. Allies, Opponents, Tests and Training
The Minions are taken to Orlando by the Nelsons, a family of crooks. They cross another fun threshold to Break On Through by The Doors. They meet Scarlett Overkill the baddest villain around and complete some tests to become her henchmen. Back in London, they undergo more tests and training and are assigned a quest: to steal the Crown Jewels la crowna

7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
As the hero trains and prepares to Grasp the Prize, he often descends to the underworld or goes up to a high place. Kevin, Bob and Stuart infiltrate the Tower of London, ascend to a tower, descend via a kind of gauntlet and chase the Queen. When Bob pulls a Sword from a Stone he becomes King Bob, gets the crown, adoring subjects and free run of Buckingham Palace. But when the minions realise that they have upset Scarlett, they offer to give her back the crown. They don't want power, they want a boss. 

[These middle steps are often repeated, increasing in intensity and stakes, like heats before a big race.]
8. Supreme ordeal - Visit to death
For the Hero, this moment is often the one when he must be prepared to sacrifice himself. The Minions are happy to give la crowna to Scarlet, but she is a villain and has not forgiven them. She sends them to the dungeon with orders that they are to be tortured. They escape but Scarlet captures Bob and Stuart and threatens to kill them. Kevin must come to the rescue of “les buddies”. When he sees Scarlets bomb dropping onto his friends he cant bear the thought of them being hurt, so he swallows it! Thanks to our Hero’s willingness to sacrifice himself, Kevin saves the day... (and doesn’t die!)

9. The Reward 
Having vanquished Scarlet Overkill and her sidekick, the Minions return the Crown Jewels to the Queen and each get a reward. 

10. The Cycle Begins Again 
During the reward ceremony the Queen’s crown goes missing again. It is Scarlet again, but this time she is vanquished by a boy with a freeze ray. Kevin, Stuart and Bob, now joined by the other Minions, have found a new Boss and he is DESPICABLE! 

P.S. If you go to see Minions stay right to the very end of the credits! 

P.P.S. The images on this blog are from The Minions Junior Novel