There are tried and true methods of style in most classical and romantic literature, even back into the epics of Egypt and Babylon, and most certainly throughout Greek and Roman mythology. One such method is for the hero to stand or represent the author's conception of a significant paradigmatic individual and theme for that work. Typically, the hero, while perhaps slightly flawed like the rest of humanity, possesses something special -- a deep and ominous understanding of the inner world and inner self, and the ability to employ that understanding to complete a set of tasks that often have parabolic meaning to the reader.
This hero seems to teach us the value of humanity, while helping us strive for excellence by understanding the value of the experiences rendered through intuition, emotions, and often feelings that are special to the hero -- often rather beyond that of logical reasoning. The paradigm of heroism transcends genre, chronology, and has become so common in the human collective consciousness that it is easily recognized and repeated (Campbell, 1968). However, in modern literature and philosophy, authors search for a more realistic approach in the construction of such archetypes, including the perfection of the typical hero. Instead, many modern novels include the "anti-" or "alienated" hero, who has characteristics more akin to a real individual. Specifically retaining qualities that are good and bad, moral and immoral -- the anti-hero may indeed save the world, but still has character flaws. There are reasons for the anti-hero's behavior, reasons that may be deeply psychological and even criminal, usually from some private set of demons that have yet to be flushed away. The alienation of this type of hero shouts to the audience, "I may be flawed, but I'm all you have," and still, finds the audience relating to the trials and tribulations that the hero typically undergoes in the journey through the story. The idea of the anti-hero, in fact, has become even more popular in contemporary film and other popular genres (graphic novels, comic book adaptations, popular fiction, etc.) (Marshall, 2000; Rollin, 1973) The classic book and film adaptations, such as "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," which is an example of this anti-hero genre has strong mythological and archetypal meaning.
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was written in 1957 by Theodore Geisel, better known, as Dr. Seuss. In 1966, Chuck Jones of Looney Toons fame, directed the animated television special with Boris Karloff as the narrator. A huge number of phrases and musical quips from this production are now part of holiday popular culture, including the classic "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (Mr. Grinch, 1966). The 2000 version was directed and produced by Ron Howard and starred Jim Carrey as the Grinch and was narrated by Anthony Hopkins. Rather than the 26 minute classic, the film ran 104 minutes and required the addition of backstory and character development.
No matter the form of adaption, the plot is fundamentally the same across versions and manifestations of the Grinch narrative. Set in the fictional city of Whoville, everyone celebrates Christmas loudly and regularly. Above the city lives the curmudgeon & green creature named Grinch and his faithful dog Max. The Grinch hates Christmas, the "noise," the happiness, and the way the Whovillians celebrate. Deciding to stop Christmas from coming, the Grinch dresses Max up as a reindeer, while he disguises himself and Santa Claus. In a sled full of gear to procure lots of loot, the Grinch swoops down on Whoville to steal all the presents, holiday decorations, and all material symbols linking directly to the Christmas holiday. When Christmas morning arrives and the Who's continue to sing and celebrate, the Grinch is puzzled. His epitome comes when he realizes that, to the Who's, Christmas is much more than materialism; this causes the Grinch's heart, which is two sizes smaller than the normal heart, to grow three sizes. The growth of the Grinch's heart gives him the power and strength of a dozen Grinches, as the orginal tale goes. Much jollier than before, the Grinch returns to Whoville with all the presents; the Grinch is reborn as a new being.
Howard's film version received three Academy Award nominations: Best Costume, Best
Art Direction, and won the Best-Makeup. While the filmmaking process overall is definitively a creative endeavor, the Academy Awards in these particular categories speak to the creative prowess, mastery, and attention to creative vision & imagination in this film. Dr. Seuss' books create vivid worlds in the minds of viewers. This film was one of the first of a few more modern live action and animated incarnations of Seuss' books, which, at the time, was unprecedented. Howard took quite seriously the task of providing the same or more effort to vividly engage the imaginations of viewers in the film form. Many viewers would know the book and the animated classic, making Howard's task of making the Grinch narrative a film a daunting tasks. There are no harder critics of film adaptations than by those who are extremely familiar with the original material. Film adaptations of Marvel and DC Comics narratives are prime and easy examples.
Production wise, the film is a fantasy version with rich and spectacular costumes and make up. There is no escape from bright colors and the odd shapes that instantly show an audience that it is based on Dr. Seuss. Jim Carrey uses his facial acrobatics and talent to make us believe he is indeed the Grinch, and the Art Direction, Production Design and lighting combine to enhance the feeling of truly experiencing this wondrous place of Whoville. The cinematography provides a grand and epic quality to the film. The choice of lenses allow for viewers to see seemingly vast landscapes with incredible range in depth of field. The cinematography additionally allows viewers to notice and appreciate the extent of the meticulous detail the design team put into constructing Whoville, from the set pieces, to the set decorations, to the accessories worn by the actors as part of their wardrobes. Focus pulling and rack focusing are some of the techniques that highlight such details.
The classic version keeps the same rhyme-scheme that made the book so lovable, and while the Howard version is not spoken in rhyme, there are times when the classic lines and song just had to be included -- as in the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." There is substantially more dialogue, more depth and history, more characters, and more sub-plots in the 2006 version, but the heart of the story remains the same.
Besides being incredibly entertaining, there are certain archetypes that are apparent in The Grinch that make it memorable for all ages. In the movie, when the Grinch is dressed as Santa, Cindy Lou Who asks: "Santa, what's the meaning of Christmas?" To which the Grinch replies, "VENGENCE! I mean presents, I suppose." The idea of a bad person becoming good, while capturing the goodness of Christmas is universal. This idea holds that there is good in everyone, but it may just take a little work to find it in some of the more difficult cases. The Grinch is a Seussian incarnation of the archetype established by Charles Dickens with Ebenezer Scrooge, who thought and said, "Bah, Humbug" to all the frivolity of the holidays. There are two compelling examples in the culture and collective consciousness with messages that Christmas is more than a celebration and frantic homage to capitalism, consumerism, and materialism. Such examples demonstrate that there still exists reasons outside of those related to materiality connect with Christmas, such as love, family, harmony, compassion, and giving.
Within the realm of humanistic psychology, many believe founded by Abraham Maslow, there is a combination of psychoanalysis and behaviorism. It is…