Many, many, many great stories from Lord of the Rings to Juno are told basically within the format of a Hero’s Journey.
The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure formalized by Joseph Campbell (who we will talk about in a couple of segments) that has a reluctant protagonist go on a journey, change in some material way and then confront some type of adversity.
Some movies might change a few things around, but generally the follow these twelve steps (from amateur moving making),
I choose Star Wars because frankly, it’s easy and it’s one of the more classic examples of the Hero’s Journey in modern film, but this format can be used for just about any story that tracks a Hero’s progress through adversity.
For another look at how Star Wars fits into the Hero’s Journey structure, take a look at the clip above. It was a PhD assignment by Richard Kemp of Northcentral University. As you can see, the structure of the steps is a little different, but the overall tone remains identical.