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.)
There's Gigi in the park, giggling and laughing and blowing off Latin "because [her] foot fell asleep." Meanwhile, rich playboy Gaston Lachaille, Gigi's family friend, couldn't be more bored with the wealth and society that surrounds him.
Call to Adventure
Each Tuesday, Gigi must go to her Aunt Alicia's to learn how to be a proper lady. This begins to initiate her in the world of adult womanhood. Meanwhile, Gaston breaks up with his current squeeze Liane, and his uncle Honoré invites him to play the part that society expects of him: a jolly, charismatic man about town.
Refusal of The Call
Gigi totally hates the lessons, and though she's an obedient child, properly identifying emeralds or sapphires, she doesn't understand the point of it all, nor why the Parisians devote so much time and energy to romance. Similarly, Gaston is found snoozing at his own costume party: he's just not cut out for the role his Uncle and Paris expect him to fill.
Meeting the Mentor
Though most would probably name Aunt Alicia and Honoré as the key mentors for Gigi and Gaston, we're interested in thinking about Gigi and Gaston as mentors for each other. After all, Gaston is never bored when Gigi is around, and eventually, Gigi will learn the beauty of romance from Gaston. So when the two head to the Ice Palace for the first time, or play cards together at Gigi's apartment, they are getting a taste of each other's worlds, and what each has to offer the other.
Crossing the Threshold
After a fun time in beachy Trouville with Gaston, Gigi appears in the gossip mags for the first time: the paparazzi have both recognized and misconstrued the relationship between the innocent girl and the rich older man. The suggestion is enough for Aunt Alicia and Madame Alvarez to realize that Gigi might well be Gaston's next amour, and begin preparing in earnest while Gaston is alone in Monte Carlo, sighing and missing Gigi.
Tests, Allies, Enemies
When Gaston returns to Paris, he finds a changed Gigi wearing a very grown-up dress, that makes her look (as he says) "like a giraffe with a goiter." But he relents quickly, recognizing the change, and calls on Madame Alvarez to arrange the business side of his romantic proposition: for Gigi to be his kept woman.
Approach to the Inmost Cave
When everything has been straightened out between the lawyers, Gaston comes to Gigi to ask whether she'll accept his proposition. At last, he believes, he will have this fun and sweet young lady at his side, they will live together, happily!
Gigi, whose head has been filled with the responsibilities, rules, and strange carnal duties of being a kept woman, refuses. Gaston is furious, accusing Madame Alvarez and Aunt Alicia of poisoning Gigi to the pleasures and beauty of romance. He storms off and visits his uncle, who advises him to forget Gigi at once.
Reward (Seizing The Sword)
Gaston reappears at Madame Alvarez's apartment, revealing that Gigi has sent him a note that she's changed her mind. They decide to go to dinner that evening.
The Road Back
At Maxim's, the couple's date is a disaster: in Gigi's eagerness to be the woman society expects of her, she loses her sweetness and sense of fun. After she selects a cigar for Gaston, loudly exclaims over the diamond bracelet he has brought her, and pours the coffee perfectly, Gaston drags her home. Now she's too much of the woman she was supposed to be, and everything is ruined. Gigi runs to her room sobbing.
Gaston leaves Gigi in her tears and walks about the streets of Paris in the dark. The music changes from an instrumental version of "Gaston's Soliloquy" (from back when he was complaining about what a dumb child Gigi was), to an instrumental of the "Gigi" theme, and just like that, Gaston has softened and relented, and is ready to re-approach the object of his affection.
Return with the Elixir
Gaston decides to put a ring on it, and asks Madame Alvarez for Gigi's hand in marriage—it's marriage that's the fulfillment of their wishes, not some sketchy "arrangement."
In a very literal "return to where they've started," there's a flash-forward to Gaston and Gigi happily strolling in the very same park Gigi once played. All's well that ends well, the ugly duckling is a wife, et cetera, et cetera, and so forth.