Mister Rodgers Documentary Creator Cites His Personal Hero’s Journey
Benjamin Wagner created an independent documentary about Mister Rodgers and in a blog post for his site, Mister Rodgers and Me, discussed his process, giving heavy weight to the influence of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey®. “Mister Rodgers and Me” was a very successful independent documentary and even won an American Public Television Programming Excellence Award. The creator of the film, Benjamin, shared some of his personal experiences with Rodgers and cites that his exposure to The Hero’s Journey, along with Jung’s teachings, was fundamental to the filmmaking process. Ben talks about his time in college and how he noticed the patterns of the Hero’s Journey in his own life with his journey into the unknown starting with his exposure to Jung, “As a writer… singer/songwriter, and sometimes dreamer, I was no stranger to the unconscious. I had long been encouraged to listen to my inner voices, and explore my imagination. Professor Gates, through Carl Jung, put it all in context, though. He helped me to establish a framework with which to understand my feelings, and my dreams. He helped give me the confidence to rely upon that which was not necessarily apparent before me, but hidden in the shadows, and corners around me.” With that knowledge in place he soon saw the patterns of the Hero’s Journey,
The repeating characters of the hero myth, such as the young hero, the wise old man, the shape-shifting woman, and the shadowy nemesis, are identical with the archetypes of the human mind, as shown in dreams. That’s why myths, and stories constructed on the mythological model, are always psychologically true.
Those men, their works, and the works the proceeded them, have all laid the foundation for this documentary. It both carries the film — our narrative arc is literally and figuratively a journey — and the framework upon much of that which I hope to come to understand. Sure, my research, assumptions, and conclusions are based on both theoretical and empirical evidence. But they are also based on unconscious, dreams, and intuition.
Without these insights the documentary may have never been made. Although it was on a much smaller scale than the recent documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” this film still struck the hearts of many and reminded them of the impact that Fred Rodgers had on society.