Skip to main content

Cinema and Psyche: Exploring Archetypal and Mythic Patterns at the Movies

Cinema and Psyche: Exploring Archetypal and Mythic Patterns at the Movies

January 11, 18, 25 | February 1, 8, 15, 22 | March 1, 2022 (Tuesdays)

Psyche | Hosted Online

Program Description

Cinema and Psyche: Exploring Archetypal and Mythic Patterns at the Movies

This eight-week program introduces participants to an understanding of archetypal patterns in cinema. Perspectives from the study of mythology and depth psychology, particularly those associated with Joseph Campbell, C.G. Jung, and James Hillman will be explored in relation to selected films. After setting out basic concepts, the instructors will make weekly presentations in relation to assigned viewings and readings, followed by group engagement. The program is designed for anyone interested in the nexus of myth, individuation, and screen story. If you aim to use film in teaching, aspire to become involved in feature filmmaking, or simply wish to deepen your comprehension of the cinematic imagination, this program will inspire and energize your efforts.

Course Details

  • A syllabus with readings designed to generate an understanding of basic perspectives in the archetypal and mythic approach to cinema as well as prepare participants for the analysis and discussion of selected films.
  • Viewing assignments and study questions pertaining to each week’s film.
  • Live two-hour Zoom sessions, including film clips, a presentation, and discussion with John Bucher and Glen Slater.

Who is the course for?

  • People interested in deepening their understanding of the cinematic arts.
  • Story-tellers and screenwriters wishing to further their comprehension of depth psychological and mythological patterns and symbols in film.
  • Psychotherapists and students of the arts and culture interested in the way films convey the collective challenges and transformative potentials of our time.
  • Cinephiles who simply want to contemplate the images and narratives of feature films from a different angle.

What will you gain by taking this course?

  • A grasp of the way archetypal and mythic patterns appear in screen stories.
  • Familiarity with some of the key theoretical and conceptual understandings offered by C. G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, and others.
  • A more nuanced and sophisticated comprehension of the Hero’s Journey in film.
  • A deeper appreciation of the depiction of psychological transformation in the cinematic arts.
  • An understanding of the interplay of visual and psychological images.
  • An articulated framework for reoccurring mythic motifs and narrative structures.

Overview of weekly topics:

  1. An orientation to the depth psychological and mythological approaches to film.
  2. The Wizard of Oz: Mythic movement and the collective heroes’ journey.
  3. Sunset Boulevard: Film Noir, the dark soul and narcissistic wounding in Hollywood.
  4. Rogue One: Love and war, science and space, fathers of darkness and light
  5. Black Swan: Persona, shadow, perfection, and the negative mother.
  6. Minari: Cycles and symbols of life and death
  7. The Accidental Tourist: Complex, mourning, and soul-making.
  8. Fury Road: The female hero and the path to cultural transformation.

Program Details

January 11, 18, 25; February 1, 8, 15, 22; March 1, 2022 (Tuesdays)
5:15-7:15 pm (Pacific Time)

All sessions offered live via Zoom – Live participation is required (sessions will not be recorded)


  • $225 Pacifica Student Rate
  • $275 Pacifica Alumni, Full Time Students, & Senior Rate
  • $325 General Rate

Featured Presenters

John Bucher, PhD

John Bucher, PhD, serves as the Creative Director for the Joseph Campbell Foundation and is an author and podcaster. He has worked with companies including HBO, DC Comics, The History Channel, A24 Films, and has served as a consultant and writer for numerous film, television, and Virtual Reality projects. He is the author of six books including the best-selling Storytelling for Virtual Reality, named by BookAuthority as one of the best storytelling books of all time. Disruptor named him one of the top 25 influencers in Virtual Reality. John teaches film, writing, and story courses in the Los Angeles area and around the world.


Glen Slater, PhD, teaches at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where he is Co-Chair of the Jungian and Archetypal Studies Program. He has written for a number of Jungian publications and edited the third volume of James Hillman’s Uniform Edition, Senex and Puer, as well as the essay collection, Varieties of Mythic Experience. He regularly uses film in his psychology classes to illustrate and explore archetypal patterns, teaches a course on mythology and cinema, has worked as a film reviewer, and is the past film review editor of Spring Journal.


General Information


Hosted Online


Full refunds for registrations and lodging will be provided up to 14 days prior to an event. Cancellations made 13-6 days prior will receive a 50% refund. There is no refund for registrations or lodging cancellations made within 5 days of your arrival or if you do not show up or leave a program or event early. The Retreat at Pacifica reserves the right to cancel any program at any time. In this instance, you will be refunded in full.

For additional information, including travel, cancellation policy, and disability services please visit our general information section.

Registration Details

January 11, 18, 25 | February 1, 8, 15, 22 | March 1, 2022 (Tuesdays)

This is a previous event listing

Payment options:
Credit Card, PayPal, Check or Phone.