Study Guide

From Russia With Love Hero's Journey

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Hero's Journey

Ever notice that every blockbuster movie 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 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.)

Ordinary World

We first see Bond in his natural habitat: half naked at the beginning of a riverside tryst with his London lady Sylvia Trench.

Call To Adventure

The type of adventure Bond would rather be having (an adventure of the horizontal kind) is interrupted when M telephones from MI6 with a mission for 007. Next time he'll remember to silence the ringer on his car phone.

Refusal Of The Call

A professional through-and-through, Bond doesn't refuse his mission. He does delay it a bit to finish what he started with Sylvia. Also, he and M speculate that the mission might be a trap. But Bond still charges in full speed ahead.

Meeting The Mentor

Bond's guide through Istanbul is Kerim Bey. If you were fond of bad guys, you might say the man helps Bond learn how to talk Turkey. (Don't ever say we said that.)

Crossing The Threshold

After the bombing, Bey leads Bond into the catacombs below Istanbul. From beneath the Russian Embassy, they spy on the Soviets. Once Bond sees Red, there's no going back. Then back at his hotel room, Bond finds Tania in his bed. He doesn't get to carry the blushing bride over the threshold, but he doesn't hesitate to get between the sheets with her.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Bond allies with Kerim Bey and becomes friends with his friends: the Romani people who Bey uses as muscle against the Bulgarians. (We're not sure Bey understands the true meaning of the word "friend.") But they're trustworthy, saving Bond in a pinch. Not so simple is Bond's relationship with Tania. Is she an ally? An enemy? Just another pretty face? Bond can't take her loyalty for granted…mostly because he isn't exactly loyal to her either.

Approach To The Inmost Cave

Tania reveals the secret details about the Lektor machine to Bond. It appears she knows what she's talking about. The two also start to grow closer. Maybe this is more than a, um, professional relationship.


Bey blows up the Russian Embassy (turnabout is fair play), providing a literal smokescreen for Bond to infiltrate and steal the coding machine.

Reward (Seizing The Sword)

Bond secures both the coding machine and the girl (Tania), fleeing Istanbul safely.

The Road Back

With false identities, Bond and Tania – now the Somersets – return to London by way of the Orient Express. They're taking the long way home.


On the train, the assassin Grant appears to have the upper hand. He almost kills Bond, but with his wits and his gadgets, Bond manages to defeat Grant and the dozens of SPECTRE agents who materialize to chase him across the Mediterranean Sea.

Return With The Elixir

Bond and Tania get the Lektor to Venice, where Bond keeps it in his hotel room. Doesn't this place have a safe to keep it in? Klebb attempts to recapture the machine, but Tania shoots her. With almost everyone dead, the Lektor is all but guaranteed safe passage back to MI6.

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