Folklore in Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, and Alice in Wonderland

Folklore in Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, and Alice in Wonderland

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Folklore in Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, and Alice in Wonderland


Folklore in the movies usually focuses around a hero or heroine, that hero or heroine is in a situation that they have to overcome. The hero or heroine can come in many different forms; it could be a teenage boy a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, or an over the hill astronaught lost in space, or a little girl who falls down a hole. I am going to show how three movies contain folklore, Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Planet of the Apes one, and Alice in Wonderland.

But first I need to define what folklore in the movies is. Folklore in the movies has five main points which the hero or heroine goes through. The call to adventure: something has to happen to the hero or heroine in order to get them involved in some situation which concerns them greatly. Refusal of the call: the hero or heroine has to disobey something or someone. Supernatural aid: the hero or heroine gets help from an outside force, someone wiser than the hero or heroine, and someone who understands the situation better. The crossing of the first threshold: once involved with the situation before them, the hero or heroine has a conflict which causes them to get caught in the belly of the whale. The belly of the whale: the hero or heroine gets caught in some place, of which they try to escape.

Star Wars is one of the best movies to use as an example for folklore in the movies. The call to adventure: fate would have it that R2D2 would land into the hands of Luke Skywalker. The only thing keeping Luke from joining the Rebel Alliance is his uncle Owen Lars, aunt Beru Lars, and the harvest; but when the empire comes looking for R2 they come to Luke's house and kill his aunt and uncle. Refusal of the call: at first Luke says no to Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi. Han Solo doesn't want to help the Rebel Alliance at first, but at the end he does and saves Luke's life. Supernatural aid: Obi Wan is the old man in Star Wars who understands the force and who teaches Luke the ways of the force. The crossing of the first threshold: when Alderaan gets blown up, the Millennium Falcon gets caught in the Death Star's tractor beam, leaving them stuck inside the largest, most deadly battle-station ever created.

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The belly of the whale: the Death Star is a good example; another is the garbage disposal system which the heroes need to escape from before being smashed. Only if Luke can escape the Death Star can he be able to come back and destroy the Death Star.

Taylor (Charlton Heston) is an explorer of deep space, but he and his crew wind up deserted on a planet quite different from earth, or so they think. The call to adventure: Taylor and his crew are deep space travelers searching for new planets. Refusal of the call: Taylor and his crew, along with many other speechless humans are chased by the apes; Taylor refuses to be taken without a fight. Supernatural aid: Doctor Zerra and Cornelius are the apes that discover Taylor's ability of speech; they befriend him and help him discover the truth about the planet of the apes. The crossing of the first threshold: the lost astronaughts crash-land in the middle of the forbidden zone, a wasteland beyond the ape city; they have to cross through this zone to discover the city. The belly of the whale: the truth about the planet of the apes is that Taylor is really stuck in the future; the planet he crash-landed on was his own. He has no way of getting out of the future, the movie ends with Taylor searching for a way.

One movie that I didn't expect to find a folklore plot was Alice in Wonderland. The call to adventure: Alice is bored with her everyday life, so when she sees a white rabbit who keeps explaining that he is late she has to know why, so she follows him. Refusal of the call: Alice knows that she shouldn't follow the rabbit and that her schoolmaster will get angry if she is tardy, but she is so curious she pays no attention to anything but the white rabbit. Supernatural aid: Alice meets quite a few interesting characters, some help her, but most just confuse Alice more. One of the most helpful characters is the Chesher cat, who helps Alice find her way to the Queen's palace. The crossing of the first threshold: when Alice first sees the white rabbit she follows him into a hole, which ends up being deeper than Alice thought. She falls and meets a talking door, once she passes through it she ends up in the sea of Wonderland. The belly of the whale: Alice is caught in a land which seems to entrap her forever. But the world she is stuck in turns out to be her own nightmare.

Folklore in the movies generally follows the same guidelines: the call to adventure, refusal of the call, supernatural aid, the crossing of the first threshold, and the belly of the whale. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Taylor in Planet of the Apes one, and Alice in Alice in Wonderland all are good examples of heroes or heroines that follow the movie folklore guidelines. "Unhand me you damn, dirty apes!" (A quote from Joe (movie buff), who is quoting Charlton Heston.)
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