Study Guide

Goldfinger Hero's Journey

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.)

1. Ordinary World

Bond doesn't occupy an ordinary world. Yet when we first meet him, he's on vacation in Miami Beach. As this is the 1960s, he isn't distracted by e-mails or text messages; instead, he's able to focus completely on his leisure. That's something we can all dream of.

2. Call To Adventure

Just as you might be interrupted on vacation by a vibrating phone, Bond's vacation is put on hold when he receives an unexpected message. This one is delivered by hand, from a CIA agent named Felix, recruiting Bond to stop Goldfinger's gambling schemes.

3. Refusal Of The Call

If Bond even thinks about refusing M's order to stop Goldfinger, we don't see the thought cross his face. MI6 doesn't pay him the big bucks to hesitate.

4. Meeting The Mentor

Bond doesn't take breaks from his job as 007 to call his mentor on the phone and ask for advice. He doesn't have a mentor figure; he is the mentor figure for millions of people watching the Bond movies. Within the context of the film, the closest Bond gets to a mentor is Jill Masterson. She helps him loosen up and have a good time, and her death keeps him motivated to bring the bad guy to justice.

5. Crossing The Threshold

Once Jill becomes the infamous golden girl, Bond is committed to bringing Goldfinger down. There's no turning back, or else her death would be 24 karats of futility.

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies

Bond infiltrates Goldfinger's inner sanctum. There, he finds that Goldfinger is an enemy, naturally. And that sniper Tilly Masterson is an unexpected ally. As for Pussy Galore, she remains in the question mark column for most of the movie.

7. Approach To The Inmost Cave

As Bond gets closer to Goldfinger, he starts to uncover what Operation Grand Slam is all about, and it isn't about sabotaging the World Series. At first, it appears to be a plan to rob Fort Knox. But Bond discovers it's even more diabolical—Goldfinger plans to nuke the U.S. gold reserves, rendering the country basically bankrupt—and rendering himself that much richer by comparison.

8. Ordeal

Bond's plan to stop Goldfinger means allowing him to get so close to his goal that he almost succeeds. Bond is locked inside Fort Knox's vault with the nuke and with Oddjob, Goldfinger's impenetrable henchman. The ordeal leaves Bond battered and bruised (and shaken and stirred, etc.) after a fight with Oddjob, and with only seven seconds left to defuse the bomb.

9. Reward (Seizing The Sword)

Bond's reward is saving the day. As a bonus, he gets to have dinner with the president. We hope LBJ knows how to throw a party.

10. The Road Back

We know Bond will have another mission: a spy's work is never done. 007 will return to MI6 for his next briefing, and a sequel.

11. Resurrection

Goldfinger makes a surprise appearance on Bond's not-so-private jet, meaning this mission isn't yet over. You've heard that it's not over until the fat lady sings, but this time, it's not over until the fat man is sucked out the window of the aircraft. He should have made sure his seatbelt was securely fastened.

12. Return With The Elixir

The plane crash lands, but not only does Bond survive, he's also stranded with Pussy Galore. The two have some much-needed alone time. What more could an international superspy want?

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