The Hero’s Journey Today

Virtual Journey:  Passion Never Retires

As I watch the news these days, I can’t help but be struck by two seemingly incompatible stories of older people and aging.

One is a story of frail and needy elders, cut off from society, waving from behind the windows of their nursing homes, their vulnerability underscored by soaring death rates for people over 60.

The other is a story of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who will turn 80 this year. For those brave enough to watch the news, he is everywhere—the epitome of health, vigor, wisdom, courage, and leadership. Nobody is telling him to shutter himself from society and wait for the grocery delivery.

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There is a wider truth to both stories.

Loneliness, isolation and vulnerability are undeniable problems for millions of older people throughout the world. And yet, for all we hear about the needs of older people, many in their later years serve others, remaining pillars in their communities and leaders in responding to the virus.

Tens of thousands of retired doctors and nurses volunteered to help treat the sick in New York City. Others are working through this crisis as health workers, hospital custodians, and home health aides, as teachers offering lessons via Zoom and Skype, as drivers delivering meals.

Millions over 60 are volunteering to help care for and feed those who are homeless—and those who are neighbors. Some provide virtual help to young people, supporting a text line for teens in crisis, offering college-planning and career advice to low-income high school students, reading stories virtually to young people in their lives.

While we’re going through this crisis and when it’s over, we must remember that these seemingly incompatible images of older people—one characterized by loneliness and disconnection, the other by the capacity to connect and contribute—are, in fact, often intimately and inextricably linked.

As many studies show, the more we help people over 60 to engage, to serve, to find purpose and connection, the more resistant they will be to the loneliness epidemic, the more fulfilled they’ll be in general, and the stronger the social fabric will be for all of us.

Yes, some of us are vigorous, others vulnerable. But most of us will find that our later years include some of both. We may not have Dr. Fauci’s expertise or stamina, but for as long as we are able, we can find in our own lives his sense of purpose, his drive to help others.

When you want to learn more about this new Virtual Journey – Passion Never Retires follow this link 

Virtual Journey: The Hero’s Journey in the Movies.

The Three Rules of Storytelling


Purpose, truth, action.

When writers really want to emphasize something, they put it in a one sentence paragraph. If they suspect even that is not emphasis enough, then they go to Plan B: break things up into still more melodramatic, one-word paragraphs.




All good storytelling coheres around those three ideas. They are the three criteria, taken together, by which we judge the workability and ultimate success of our story. With those three principles in your pocket, you can summon your best story to live. You are virtually guaranteed to keep your story vital, moving, productive, fulfilling.

Let us review them:


What is my ultimate purpose? What am I living for? What principle, what goal, what end? For my whole life, and every single day? Why do I do what I do? For what? What is the thing that would get me to be fully engaged, and to be sure and at peace that it is the right decision, the necessary one, the only one? What is the thing I am driving toward – or should be – with every action I take? Have I articulated to myself my deepest values and beliefs, which are the bedrock of who I am and which must be inextricably tied to my purpose (and vice versa)? Who do I want to be at the end? What legacy do I want to leave? What epitath about myself could ‘I live with’?  When all is said is done, how do I want to be remembered? What is non- negotiable in my life? What do I believe must happen for me to have lived a successful life? Is my story taking me where I want to go? Is it “on – purpose”?  Consistently? And why am I telling this story? What is the real motive? Is my purpose noble or ignoble?


Is the story I am telling true? Does it conform to known facts? Is it grounded in objective reality as fully as possible; that is, does it coincide with some generally agreed-upon portrayal of the world? Or is it true only if I’m living in a dreamland? Is it a lie I tell myself when I think, ‘This is the way the world is’ – my own, probably biased evaluation of things, one that is dubiously defensible, and which I repeat to myself because it provides false comfort for the way my life has turned out? Do I sidestep the parts of my story that are obviously untrue because they are just too painful to confront? Is my story I still believe when I really dig down, when I listen to my most candid, private voice, when I do my best to shut out other influences and hear instead what I genuinely think and feel? Which is the truer statement: My story is honest and authentic or My story is made up?  Is my story closer to a documentary or a work of fantasy? What myths am I perpetuating that could potentially steal my fate in areas of my life that really matter?


A good story is premised on action … is it mine? With my purpose firmly in mind, along with a confidence about what is really true, what actions will I now take to make things better, so that my ultimate purpose and my day-to-day life are better aligned? What habits do I need to eliminate? What new ones do I need to breed? Is more of my life spent participating or observing? Are my actions filled with hope – hope that I will succeed, hope that the change I seek is realistically within my grasp? Or is my ‘action-taking’ really more accurately portrayed as ‘going through the motions’? Do I believe to my core that, in the end, my willingness to follow through with action will determine the success of my life? Do I believe that if I act with commitment and consistency I will end up where I want to be, where I have always felt I am capable of being? Does the story I tell myself move me to action? Does it inspire hope and determination in me? Am I confident that I can make any necessary course correction, no matter what stage of life I am in, no matter how many times I may have failed at it in the past? Do I proceed in the belief that I will never surrender in this effort because my happiness and success as a human being is what is at stake?

One must hold one’s story up as if against a three – part checklist: your story must have purpose (can you name it?), your story must be true (is it?), your story must lead to hope-filled action (does it?). 

When a hero achieves a breakthrough, it is always – always – because he or she has come to a fundamental understanding of the interlocked nature of all three rules of storytelling. It is nog good enough to satisfy one or even two of the three rules and content yourself that your story has now improved; it will not leave you 33% better off or 67% better off. More likely, you may have fulfilled one or even two of the three rules but because all three rules are not followed, your story remains dysfunctional.

While one needs to understand deeply each of the three rules of storytelling, not all rules are created equally. Truth and action probably give people more trouble than purpose.  For example, what about those people who have purpose nailed…. but not action? This is probably the most common of the permutations, and in some ways the most tragic. In this group you find the novelists who have yet to set pen to paper, lovers who are single and celibate, entrepreneurs who don’t know the first thing about how to attract customers.

Howard Hawks didn’t direct a film for four years after the failure of his “Land of the Pharaohs” in 1955. He thought maybe he had lost it. When he came back to work on “Rio Bravo” in 1958, he was 62 years old, would be working on his 41st film and was so nervous on the first day of shooting that he stood behind a set and vomited. Then he walked out and directed a masterpiece.

To watch “Rio Bravo” is to see a master craftsman at work. The film is seamless. There is not a shot that is wrong. It is uncommonly absorbing, and the 141-minute running time flows past like running water. It contains one of John Wayne’s best performances. It has surprisingly warm romantic chemistry between Wayne and Angie Dickinson. Dean Martin is touching. Ricky Nelson, then a rival of Elvis’ and with a pompadour that would have been laughed out of the Old West, improbably works in the role of a kid gunslinger. Old Walter Brennan, as the peg-legged deputy, provides comic support that never oversteps.

Wayne and the other men and the gambling lady inhabit a town that is populous and even crowded, but not a single citizen, except for an early victim, a friendly hotel owner and his wife and of course the villain, ever says a word to them. The shadows are filled with hired killers with $50 gold pieces in their pockets — “the price of a human life.” All that buys Wayne and his deputies a stay of execution is the prisoner they precariously hold as a hostage. In a film with suspenseful standoffs and looming peril, even a scene where Wayne and Martin walk down Main Street after nightfall is frightening.

The story situation was fashioned by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, two veterans who wrote Hawks’ great film “The Big Sleep” (1946). It centers on four men holed up inside a sheriff’s office: a seasoned lawman, a drunk, an old coot and a kid. This formula would prove so resilient that Hawks would remake it in “El Dorado” (1966), John Carpenter would remake it as “Assault on Precinct 13” (1976) and directors from Scorsese to Tarantino to Stone would directly reference it. It is a Western with all of the artifice of the genre, but the characters and their connections take on a curious reality; within this closed system, their relationships have a psychological plausibility

Wayne, as Sheriff John T. Chance, plays what he himself called “the John Wayne role.” He even wears the same hat, now battered and torn, that he had worn in Westerns ever since John Ford’s “Stagecoach” (1939). Yet here he calls upon the role and his own history to bring nuance and depth to the character. Grumpy old Ford, seeing Hawks’ “Red River,” said “I never knew the big son of a bitch could act.”

Wayne is effective above all when he simply stands and regards people. “I don’t act, I react,” he liked to say, and here you see what he meant. His Chance doesn’t feel it necessary to impose himself, apart from the formidable fact of his presence. He never sweet-talks Feathers (Dickinson), indeed tends to be gruff toward her, but his eyes and body language speak for him. There is a moment when he is angered that she didn’t get on the stage out of town, stalks upstairs to her hotel room, barges through the door and then — in the reverse shot — sees her and transforms his whole demeanor. Can you say a man “softens” simply by the way he holds himself? With the most subtle of body movements, he unwinds into the faintest beginning of a courtly bow. You don’t see it. You feel it.

Dickinson was 27, looked younger, when she made the film — her first significant feature role after bit parts and TV. Wayne was 51. No matter. They fit together. They liked each other. They make this palpable without throwing themselves at each other. If you will go to chapter 21 of the DVD, you will see a romantic scene so sweet and unexpected, it may make you hold your breath. Dickinson absolutely holds the screen against the big man. Her carriage and deep, rich voice project a sense of who she is — not a saloon floozy but a competent professional gambler accustomed to sparring with men.

She was the type of woman Hawks liked, and returned to time and again: Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Jean Arthur, Rosalind Russell, indeed the future studio executive Sherry Lansing. He loved to use again what had worked for him earlier; when Dickinson asks Wayne to kiss her a second time, because “it’s even better when two people do it,” there’s an echo of Bacall in “To Have and Have Not,” telling Bogart, “It’s even better when you help.” Peter Bogdanovich notices this in a supplement on the DVD and praises the long opening sequence in “Rio Bravo,” which runs, he says, five minutes without dialogue. And no wonder: Hawks used the business of a coin thrown into a spittoon in the silent film “Underworld” (1927), for which he wrote the scenario. And where might Hawks have found inspiration for the scene where Wayne lifts Dickinson in his arms and carries her upstairs?

Much of the strength of the Chance character comes from the way he holds himself in reserve, not feeling the need to comment on everything. His delicate relationship with Dean Martin’s alcoholic character Dude involves a minimum of lectures and a lot of simply waiting to see what Dude will do. When Dude and old Stumpy (Brennan) get in a loud argument, Hawks holds Chance in center background, observing, not interfering. Chance is always the unspoken source of authority, the audience the others hope to impress.

The score by Dimitri Tiomkin evokes a frontier spirit when it wants to but also helps deepen the film, which rarely for a Western marks the passage of days with sunsets and sunrises, and makes the town streets seem lonely and exposed. There is also the introduction of a theme known to the Mexicans as “The Cutthroat Song,” which the villain Burdette (John Russell) orders the band to play. Chance reads it as a message: “No quarter taken.” The song haunts the film.

There is another use of music that some will question. In a lull in the action, the men relax inside the barricaded sheriff’s office, and Martin, resting on his back with his hat shielding his eyes, begins to sing about a cowboy’s loneliness. Nelson picks up his guitar and accompanies him. Then Ricky sings an uptempo song of his own, with Martin and even Brennan in harmony. Does this scene feel airlifted in? Maybe, but I wouldn’t do without it. Martin and Nelson were two of the most popular singers of the time, and the interlude functions well as an affectionate reprise for the men before the final showdown. Needless to say, Sheriff Chance doesn’t sing along.

The brave sheriff takes a stand against the outlaws who threaten a town. It is a familiar Western situation, which may remind you of “High Noon” (1952). In 1972, I interviewed Wayne on the set of his “Cahill, U.S. Marshal” in Durango, Mexico. “High Noon” came up, as it will when Westerns are being discussed.

“What a piece of you-know-what that was,” he told me. “I think it was popular because of the music. Think about it this way. Here’s a town full of people who have ridden in covered wagons all the way across the plains, fightin’ off Indians and drought and wild animals in order to settle down and make themselves a homestead. And then when three no-good bad guys walk into town and the marshal asks for a little help, everybody in town gets shy. If I’d been the marshal, I would have been so goddamned disgusted with those chicken-livered yellow sons of bitches that I would have just taken my wife and saddled up and rode out of there.”

You want to read more about the Virtual Journey The Hero’s Journey in the Movies? Follow this link! 

Virtual Journey “A Whole New Story” starts today

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How Creative Professionals can Create a Post – Covid Creative Revolution with the Power of New Stories

In a troubled time, powerful stories still pierce the darkness.

Take Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which radically suggested that space wasn’t inert and gravity could bend light. Physicists proved his theory during a solar eclipse in 1919—and in the middle of one of the worst pandemics in history, with the devastation of the Great War still gripping the world.

The irony of that breakthrough amid such chaos has stuck with me during COVID-19, the biggest worldwide disaster in most of our memories and one that has wreaked havoc on the creative industry.

What comforts me is Einstein’s last unproven theory. In it, I see an opportunity that could reignite the creative industry and bring us through this pandemic stronger than we went in (which was already fraught).

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Creative people take this Einstein hypothesis as an article of faith, but in these times it’s not a given. Because if ever a business environment called for imagination, it’s now.

This pandemic is not just about here-and-now dollars. It’s about connecting to people when standard communications forms are gone. It’s about preserving story value when you may not be able to sell your product.

It’s about great stories.

Detroit agency Doner pulled off a compelling PSA for its hometown. Conceived of by a young strategist, it shows what’s possible in the empty streets of Detroit. The footage was shot solo by the content director, with the voice-over recorded by a copywriter in her closet.

More creative professionals need to be similarly inspired. There is never an excuse to accept second-rate work, and there are way too many COVID-19 executions that default to “we’re all in this together” and other lazy lobs. Creative professional’s roots are in imagination, in growth. Stop being shy about it.

Start with a new pragmatism. In the pre-COVID-19 world, companies spent millions on inefficient media, seldom with tough questions coming from the C-suite. Those days are over. Smart creative professionals —especially the independents—can show how to save millions while driving new revenue. Companies will welcome common-sense business talk from creative professionals. But they also want to see the future. Consultants sell defense. That was great for a world where 3% growth got you a seven-figure bonus. Those days appear to be over.

Creative professionals sell offense. We are about to enter a period like after WWII. What did creative professionals do then? They gave us the Creative Revolution, building the most powerful middle class in history by fueling iconic, enduring brands and driving astonishing economic growth.

Saving millions and producing revenue are two powerful outcomes for a new era. But agencies need to stop two bad behaviors.

Stop giving away the best ideas. Keep them close and precious. Identify problems first, then seed ideas when they are at their highest market value.

Next, stop being the easy-going partner. Become the trusted advisor who will walk away if reasoned advice is rejected.

This means a new business model for creative professionals. We’ll need one in a post-pandemic world that demands visible problem solving and clear paths to measurable growth. This is a time to try something bold.

Think about Einstein. Why did he even say something like “imagination is more important than knowledge?” Because he looked at his existing business model—classical physics—and knew its paradigm would never explain how to bend light.

Only imagination could discover something so profound.

Your Life is your Story


Story is everywhere in life. Perhaps your story is that you are responsible for the happiness and livelihoods of dozens of people around you and you are the unappreciated hero. If you are focused on one subplot – your business – then maybe your story is that you sincerely want to execute the major initiatives in your company, yet you are restricted in some essential way. Maybe your story is that you must keep chasing even though you already seem to have a lot (even too much) because the point is to get more and more of it – money, prestige, power, control, attention. Maybe your story is that you and your children just can’t connect. Or your story might be essentially a rejection of another story – and everything you do is filtered through that rejection.

Story is everywhere. Your body tells a story. The smile or frown on your face, your shoulders thrust back in confidence or slumped roundly in despair, the liveliness or fatigue in your gait, the sparkle of hope and joy in your eyes or the blank stare, your fitness, the size of your gut, the tone and strength of your physical being, your overall presentation – those are all part of your story, one that’s especially apparant to everyone else. We judge books by their covers not simply because we are wired to judge quickly but because the cover so often provides astonishing accurate clues to what is going on inside. What is your story about your physical self? Does it truly work for you? Can it take you where you want to go in the short term? How about ten years from now? What about thirty?

You have a story about your company, though your version may depart wildly from your customer’s or business partners. You have a story about your family. Anything that consumes our energy can be a story, even if we don’t always call it a story. There is the story of your relationship. The story of you and food, or you and anger, or you and impossible dreams. The story of you, the friend. The story of you,  your father’s son or your mother’s daughter. Some of these stories work and some of them fail. According to my experience, an astounding number of these stories, once they are identified are deemed tragic – not by me, mind you but by the people living them.

Like it or not, there will be a story around your death. What will it be? Will you die a senseless death? Perhaps you drank too much and failed to buckle your seat belt and were thrown from your car, or you died from colon cancer because you refused to undergo an embarrassing colonoscopy years before when the disease was treatable. Or after years of bad nutrition, no exercise, and abuse of your body, you suffered a fatal heart attack at age fifty – nine.  ‘Senseless death’ means that it did not have to happen when it happened;  it means your story did not have to end the way it ended. Think about the effect the story of your senseless death might have on your family, on those you care about who  you are leaving behind. How would that story impact their life stories? Ask yourself, Am I okay dying a senseless death?  Your immediate reaction is almost certainly, “No!, of course not!

Unhealthy storytelling is characterized by a diet of faulty thinking and, ultimately,  long – term negative consequences. This undetectable, yet inexorable progression is not unlike what happens to coronary arteries from a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. In the body, the consequence of such a diet is hardening of the arteries. In the mind, the consequence of bad storytelling is hardening of the categories, narrowing of the possibilities, calcification of perception. Both roads lead to tragedy, often quietly.

The cumulative effect of our damaging stories will have tragic consequences on our health, engagement, performance and happiness. Because we can’t confirm the damage our defective storytelling is wreaking, we disregard it, or veto our gut reactions to make a change. Then one day we awaken to the reality that we have become cynical, negative, angry. That is now who we are. Though we never quite saw it coming, that is now our true story.

We enjoy the privilege of being the hero, the final author of the story we write with our life, yet we possess a marvelous capacity to give ourselves only a supporting role in the ‘storytelling’ process, while ascribing the premier, dominant role to the markets, our family, our kids, fate, chance, genetics.  Getting our stories straight in life does not happen without our understanding that the most precious resource that we human beings possess is our energy.  

It is our storytelling that drives the way we gather and spend our energy. Stories determine our personal and professional destinies. And the most important story you will ever tell about yourself is the story you tell to yourself. 

So, you would better examine your story, especially this one that is supposedly the most familiar of all. Participate in your story rather than observing it from afar, make sure it is a story that compels you. Tell yourself the right story – the rightness of which only you can really determine, only you can really feel – and the dynamics of your energy change. If you are finally living the story you want, then it need not – it should not and won’t – be an ordinary one. It can and will be extraordinary. After all you are not just the author of your story but also its main character the hero. Heroes are never ordinary.

In the end your story is not a tragedy. Nor is it a comedy or a romance or a thriller or a drama. It is something else. What label would you give the story of your life, the most important story you will ever tell. To me that sounds like a hero’s journey.

End of story.

“I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life,” says one of the searchers through the warehouse of treasures left behind by Charles Foster Kane. Then we get the famous series of shots leading to the closeup of the word “Rosebud” on a sled that has been tossed into a furnace, its paint curling in the flames. We remember that this was Kane’s childhood sled, taken from him as he was torn from his family and sent east to boarding school.

Rosebud is the emblem of the security, hope and innocence of childhood, which a man can spend his life seeking to regain. It is the green light at the end of Gatsby’s pier; the leopard atop Kilimanjaro, seeking nobody knows what; the bone tossed into the air in “2001.” It is that yearning after transience that adults learn to suppress. “Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn’t get, or something he lost,” says Thompson, the reporter assigned to the puzzle of Kane’s dying word. “Anyway, it wouldn’t have explained anything.” True, it explains nothing, but it is remarkably satisfactory as a demonstration that nothing can be explained. “Citizen Kane” likes playful paradoxes like that. Its surface is as much fun as any movie ever made. Its depths surpass understanding. I have analyzed it a shot at a time with more than 30 groups, and together we have seen, I believe, pretty much everything that is there on the screen. The more clearly I can see its physical manifestation, the more I am stirred by its mystery.

It is one of the miracles of cinema that in 1941 a first-time director; a cynical, hard-drinking writer; an innovative cinematographer, and a group of New York stage and radio actors were given the keys to a studio and total control, and made a masterpiece. “Citizen Kane” is more than a great movie; it is a gathering of all the lessons of the emerging era of sound, just as “Birth of a Nation” assembled everything learned at the summit of the silent era, and “2001” pointed the way beyond narrative. These peaks stand above all the others.

The origins of “Citizen Kane” are well known. Orson Welles, the boy wonder of radio and stage, was given freedom by RKO Radio Pictures to make any picture he wished. Herman Mankiewicz, an experienced screenwriter, collaborated with him on a screenplay originally called “The American.” Its inspiration was the life of William Randolph Hearst, who had put together an empire of newspapers, radio stations, magazines and news services, and then built to himself the flamboyant monument of San Simeon, a castle furnished by rummaging the remains of nations. Hearst was Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates rolled up into an enigma.

Arriving in Hollywood at age 25, Welles brought a subtle knowledge of sound and dialogue along with him; on his Mercury Theater of the Air, he’d experimented with audio styles more lithe and suggestive than those usually heard in the movies. As his cinematographer he hired Gregg Toland, who on John Ford’s “The Long Voyage Home” (1940) had experimented with deep focus photography–with shots where everything was in focus, from the front to the back, so that composition and movement determined where the eye looked first. For his cast Welles assembled his New York colleagues, including Joseph Cotten as Jed Leland, the hero’s best friend; Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander, the young woman Kane thought he could make into an opera star; Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein, the mogul’s business wizard; Ray Collins as Gettys, the corrupt political boss, and Agnes Moorehead as the boy’s forbidding mother. Welles himself played Kane from age 25 until his deathbed, using makeup and body language to trace the progress of a man increasingly captive inside his needs. “All he really wanted out of life was love,” Leland says. “That’s Charlie’s story–how he lost it.”

The structure of “Citizen Kane” is circular, adding more depth every time it passes over the life. The movie opens with newsreel obituary footage that briefs us on the life and times of Charles Foster Kane; this footage, with its portentous narration, is Welles’ bemused nod in the direction of the “March of Time” newsreels then being produced by another media mogul, Henry Luce. They provide a map of Kane’s trajectory, and it will keep us oriented as the screenplay skips around in time, piecing together the memories of those who knew him.

Curious about Kane’s dying word, “rosebud,” the newsreel editor assigns Thompson, a reporter, to find out what it meant. Thompson is played by William Alland in a thankless performance; he triggers every flashback, yet his face is never seen. He questions Kane’s alcoholic mistress, his ailing old friend, his rich associate and the other witnesses, while the movie loops through time. As often as I’ve seen “Citizen Kane,” I’ve never been able to firmly fix the order of the scenes in my mind. I look at a scene and tease myself with what will come next. But it remains elusive: By flashing back through the eyes of many witnesses, Welles and Mankiewicz created an emotional chronology set free from time.

The movie is filled with bravura visual moments: the towers of Xanadu; candidate Kane addressing a political rally; the doorway of his mistress dissolving into a front-page photo in a rival newspaper; the camera swooping down through a skylight toward the pathetic Susan in a nightclub; the many Kanes reflected through parallel mirrors; the boy playing in the snow in the background as his parents determine his future; the great shot as the camera rises straight up from Susan’s opera debut to a stagehand holding his nose, and the subsequent shot of Kane, his face hidden in shadow, defiantly applauding in the silent hall.

Along with the personal story is the history of a period. “Citizen Kane” covers the rise of the penny press (here Joseph Pulitzer is the model), the Hearst-supported Spanish-American War, the birth of radio, the power of political machines, the rise of fascism, the growth of celebrity journalism. A newsreel subtitle reads: “1895 to 1941. All of these years he covered, many of these he was.” The screenplay by Mankiewicz and Welles (which got an Oscar, the only one Welles ever won) is densely constructed and covers an amazing amount of ground, including a sequence showing Kane inventing the popular press; a record of his marriage, from early bliss to the famous montage of increasingly chilly breakfasts; the story of his courtship of Susan Alexander and her disastrous opera career, and his decline into the remote master of Xanadu (“I think if you look carefully in the west wing, Susan, you’ll find about a dozen vacationists still in residence”).

“Citizen Kane” knows the sled is not the answer. It explains what Rosebud is, but not what Rosebud means. The film’s construction shows how our lives, after we are gone, survive only in the memories of others, and those memories butt up against the walls we erect and the roles we play. There is the Kane who made shadow figures with his fingers, and the Kane who hated the traction trust; the Kane who chose his mistress over his marriage and political career, the Kane who entertained millions, the Kane who died alone.

There is a master image in “Citizen Kane” you might easily miss. The tycoon has overextended himself and is losing control of his empire. After he signs the papers of his surrender, he turns and walks into the back of the shot. Deep focus allows Welles to play a trick of perspective. Behind Kane on the wall is a window that seems to be of average size. But as he walks toward it, we see it is further away and much higher than we thought. Eventually he stands beneath its lower sill, shrunken and diminished. Then as he walks toward us, his stature grows again. A man always seems the same size to himself, because he does not stand where we stand to look at him.

You want to read more about the Virtual Journey The Hero’s Journey in the Movies? Follow this link!