Ever notice that every blockbuster film has the same fundamental pieces? A hero, a journey, some conflicts to muck it all up, a reward, and the hero returning home and everybody applauding his or her swag? Yeah, scholar Joseph Campbell noticed first—in 1949. He wrote the The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he outlined the 17 stages of a mythological hero's journey.
About half a century later, Christopher Vogler condensed those stages down to 12 in an attempt to show Hollywood how every story ever written should—and, uh, does—follow Campbell's pattern. We're working with those 12 stages, so take a look. (P.S. Want more? We have an entire Online Course devoted to the hero's journey.)
Miss Daisy wants the world to never change. She wants to stay in her house, making pickles and playing mah jongg. When she leaves, she wants to drive herself along the same route to the same Piggly Wiggly. And she wants to eat in the dining room while the help eats in the kitchen.
Call To Adventure
When Daisy backs the car into a ditch, it's quite an adventure. She never drives above 20mph forward, so going that fast backward would be exhilarating if it wasn't so scary and embarrassing.
Refusal Of The Call
Hoke will end up changing Miss Daisy's life for the better, but she doesn't know that yet. She's angry at him for taking away her independence, even though she's doing just fine losing her independence on her own. She's so stubborn that she considers walking everywhere instead of allowing her son to hire a driver.
Meeting The Mentor
Hoke knows how to fix an elevator, drive a stick shift, and make cranky old white ladies slightly less cranky. As we said, he'll change her life, making her chill out a bit and realize that she isn't as progressive as she thinks she is. He isn't just a car driver, he's a good navigator for life.
Crossing The Threshold
Daisy needs a lot of prodding to get into Hoke's car. Too bad he left his cattle zapper at home. Instead, he follows her in the car until she finally relents and gets in. Once she's on the road with Hoke, there's no turning back.
Tests, Allies, Enemies
There are few tests as strenuous, deadly, and challenging as the one that threatens Daisy and Hoke's professional relationship. Are you sitting down? She thinks… he has… stolen a 33-cent can of salmon.
Hey, it's intense for her. Most of the tests involve Daisy being a stubborn old coot and being proven wrong.
Approach To The Inmost Cave
The inmost cave is a place often filled with a terrible danger. In Driving Miss Daisy, that place is Alabama, just like in real life. The trip to Alabama is a true test, because Daisy's very anxious about making it to the birthday party on time, but she must put her fate in Hoke's hands.
Traveling through Alabama is an ordeal, with racist cops and segregated bathrooms. Daisy reveals a personal memory to Hoke, which is a first for her. And both Miss Daisy and Hoke are tested, forcing Miss Daisy to realize that although she thinks she and Hoke are different, they're on the same road together. We were going to say "in the same boat," but wrong metaphor for this flick.
Reward (Seizing The Sword)
Near the end of the trip, Hoke finally stands up to Miss Daisy, and she seems to respect him more as a result. This may be the first moment where she realizes he is more than just a driver, but a potential friend. Also, she gets birthday cake. Yum, cake.
The Road Back
During the road back, the hero must choose between her own personal objective and that of a Higher Cause. Miss Daisy's personal objective is to say things are changing in the right direction with regard to civil rights and racial justice. After all, Dr. King was invited to speak in Atlanta. But Hoke forces her to re-evaluate her limited perspective.
Miss Daisy and Hoke garden together after a long winter. This short scene shows us that she and Hoke are becoming friends, not just employer and employee. She's accepted him in a different way and has let him into her life more intimately.
Return With The Elixir
The elixir in this case is pumpkin pie. Okay, it's actually friendship—or at least tolerance—when Hoke visits Daisy in the nursing home. She doesn't want Hoke to chat with Boolie—she tells Boolie he's come to see her. Daisy's nearing the end of her life, but Hoke brings some hope that her final days won't be spent alone.