Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD Review

If you own one DVD set, it should contain this series.
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Celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of the most fascinating programs to ever air on television, Athena presents a new DVD edition of Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers featuring new material. 

Well known for his work in comparative mythology and religion, particularly The Hero with a Thousand Faces where he details the concept of the monomyth or the hero's journey, professor Joseph Campbell was interviewed over the last two summers of his life by Bill Moyers about the myths of the world; the way they worked in society, past and present; and how they connected us all.  Brought about by death and man's awareness of it, Campbell considers myths not to be about the search for meaning but rather the experience of life. 

Through their conversations, Campbell presents different ways to view life.  In reflecting on the question, "am I the bulb that carries the light or am I the light of which the bulb is a vehicle?" he talks about the body being the vehicle of the consciousness.  By sharing many wonderful stories with familiar aspects, he reveals the human psyche is similar all over the world.  He discusses the meaning of love stories through the ages and explores how God is the source of the energy in western and primitive cultures while God is a manifestation of the energy not its source in other cultures. 

Recorded mostly at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, with the sixth and final interview executed at New York's American Museum of Natural History, the six-part series initially aired on PBS in June 1988, the year after Campbell's death, and remains a fixture on the channel with numerous re-airings throughout the following years, because of the great amount of wisdom and insight it offers about the human experience.  Each episode contains a new introduction by Moyers.

There is a third disc containing Bonus Features.  Broadcast in 1981, Bill Moyers Journal, Joseph Campbell: Myths to Live By, Part 1 (58 min) and Part 2 (47 min) is an interview that must have served as the inspiration for The Power of Myth since they talk about similar subjects, but different ones as well, such as musician John Lennon's recent death.  When asked about the Christian afterlife, Campbell wouldn't directly refute it but makes his opinion clear when he says, "to interpret a mythological symbol as though it referred to a concrete or historical fact is to misread the symbol."

Excerpts from The Mythology of Star Wars (29 min), a 1999 interview Moyers did with George Lucas, also at Skywalker Ranch.  It was part promotion of the then-new Star Wars release, The Phantom Menace, and part Lucas honoring Campbell and his influence.

Joseph Campbell Library includes very short clips from other Campbell DVD releases.  A Hero's Journey (3 min), Mythos I (2 min), Mythos II (2 min), Mythos III (2 min), and Sukhavati (9 min).  Mythos: The Complete Series was review by Sentry Brandie Ashe.  There are also Photo Galleries featuring Images from the programs on Disc 1 (3 min) and Disc 2 (3 min), Text Galleries of Campbell's Influences, and a Bill Moyers Biography.

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being."  Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers offers the opportunity in an engaging and enlightening manner.  If you own one DVD set, it should contain this series. 

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