In many popular films, myths and archetypes are used to help the audience identify with the characters and situations within the storyline. The familiar anecdotes that create the skeleton of many pieces of media are so general that they can be lived in some way by all people. A good example of a piece of media that uses defining myths and archetypes is the film Lion. In the movie, the writers and producers follow myth story lines to create a work popular among all walks of life. By using a combination of the hero myth and the healing myth, the movie about a child lost in India and then adopted by an Australian family is relatable as the protagonist experiences love, loss and healing. The film Lion portrays the characters within different archetypal roles to create a relevant story, even though the content is extremely unique.
The Hero’s Journey Myth can be seen within the storyline of Lion. The film begins with a young child, Saroo, and his older brother Guddu in their daily routine, barely staying alive in a small village in India. The Hero’s Journey begins as Guddu decides to leave their town to go lift bales of hay. Saroo goes along as he wants to be with his brother. The story is set in motion when Guddu leaves Saroo at the train station. Saroo is wandering around and falls asleep on a vacant train and gets locked on a car moving thousands of miles away from his home.
When he finally gets out of the train, Saroo has many difficulties in a new land. The young boy doesn’t know his mother’s name, cannot pronounce his village, doesn’t speak the area’s language, and doesn’t know anyone. Luckily, Saroo receives help from multiple strangers that search for his village, provide him with safety, guide him, and help him to get adopted by the Brierley family in Australia. Saroo’s new mother, Sue Brierley, is portrayed as the “good mother” archetypal figure as she is nurturing and loving towards him. The family adopts a second child from India who takes the archetypal role of the “shadow figure”, as the child starts in the same way Saroo had, but does not transition nearly as well. The two boys face many obstacles transitioning into a new life, like learning a new language.
As Saroo grows into a young man, he hits rock bottom as he can’t remember where he is from or who he is. Saroo’s girlfriend, Lucy, can be seen as the “wise old man” archetypal figure as she is a knowledgeable, mature woman that he looks up to. She provides physical, mental and emotional help for Saroo when he is having a difficult time. Through guidance from family, friends, Google Maps and large amounts of research, Saroo finally figures out where he’s from. Saroo travels to his small town and finds his mother after more than 20 years apart. Although it is difficult to leave the mother he had been searching for, he realized he is a changed person because of the experiences he had. The Lion storyline follows the Hero’s Journey Myth and the Healing Myth as Saroo’s great journey provided healing and growth when he is finally able to return to where he’s from.
The film’s success can be explained by the myths and archetypes throughout as they create a relatable storyline for all types of people. By using the Hero’s Journey Myth and the Healing Myth, all can find a way to relate to the young Indian boy and his feelings of love, loss, sadness and fulfillment on his journey of being lost and found.