The Hero's Quest


From ancient tales told around the campfire by our primitive ancestors to the latest big-budget blockbuster movie full of heart-pounding action and eye-popping special effects, the story that we call “The Hero’s Quest” remains one the most enduring and popular of all narrative forms. During the next five weeks, we’re going to watch some movies that follow this familiar but always exciting pattern. With me as your guide, you’ll learn to recognize the essential elements of the “quest” plot and gain new insights into some key characteristics of the “hero” archetype.

Each Thursday for the next five weeks, I’ll post a short video teaching you about “The Hero’s Quest” and giving key information about the week’s movie. At that time, I’ll also give you a “homework assignment” providing some ideas about things to pay attention to while you watch the movie at home. (I’ve picked movies that are readily available on streaming channels.)

After you watch our “movie of the week,” you’ll email me your answers to the discussion questions I’ve sent you for each movie. I’ll provide personal feedback on your answers, asking you a few follow-up questions and offering suggestions for other things you might think about. I’ll also post a wrap-up for each movie before we launch into the next one.

Weekly Schedule

  • Thursday: Professor Chuck posts video with homework & discussion questions
  • Monday: You email homework to Professor Chuck by 12nn
  • Tuesday: Professor Chuck sends students feedback and posts a wrap up on the movie of that week

Movies of the Week

March 26: “The Hunger Games” (2012)

April 2: “Zootopia” (2016)

April 9: “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

April 16: “Princess Mononoke” (1997)

April 23: “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)

How to Join

If this class sounds like so much fun that you want to “officially enroll” in the “live” version of this series (starting Thurs, March 26), just send me an email at

If you sign up, you can email me your answers to the weekly homework assignments and discussion questions, and I commit to sending you substantive responses with follow-up questions, suggestions for further exploration, etc. Basically, the “teacher treatment.”

Note that I’m limiting enrollment in each class to 25 (first come, first served) to ensure I have time to actually send you good responses. Enrollment is FREE.

Otherwise, if you’re joining later or just don’t feel like making a formal commitment, you can just follow along with the program of posted videos, lecture notes, etc., at your own pace. I encourage families to do this together and use the discussion questions as a way to start conversations about the movies.

I hope you enjoy my postings while you stay home, live & learn. Be well!

Published by Chuck Caruso

writer of dark fiction (crime, horror & western noir), literary & textual scholar (american gothic, noir, po-co, sf), and cultural critic

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