Burden of Knowledge


Joseph Campbell’s representative cultural myth is used to analyze the filmography of Oliver Stone.   A countermyth, the resulting structural alternative to Campbell’s monomyth, is explored.  Stone’s methodology for conveying the countermyth is demonstrated by applying Sergei Eisenstein’s cinematic theories.  The concept of lost innocence plays an important role in many narrative traditions, and it is an important motif embedded in the countermyth.  The significance of the lost innocence motif is established by considering its cultural and historical importance.  Key events in post–World War II America – John Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, and Watergate – are examined as manifestations of a collective search for meaning.  Coincident and retrospective critical analyses of Stone’s films are explored to determine the ability of the countermyth to effect social change.  The countermyth is explored as a search for meaning in the myth, history, and trauma of a generation.

Dan Butler, 2006