Title page for ETD etd-05172011-113805

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Olson, Eric Lars
Author's Email Address eolson3@vt.edu
URN etd-05172011-113805
Title Great Expectations: The Role of Myth in 1980s Films with Child Heroes
Degree Master of Arts
Department Communication Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Waggenspack, Beth M. Committee Chair
Howell, Buddy W. Committee Member
Prince, Stephen R. Committee Member
  • Cinema
  • Spielberg
  • Monomyth
  • Myth
  • Hero
Date of Defense 2011-05-03
Availability unrestricted
This study performed a mythic analysis on three films with child heroes including

E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial, Stand by Me, and The Goonies. Several unifying themes

were extracted and then compared with the dominant values of Reagan America to

determine if these films provided a unique cultural outlook. While most of the uncovered

themes have been recognized in other films of the era, the theme of childhood as a

community in peril is unique. It is purported these films pass judgment on Reagan as a

dubious national patriarch, and that it is possible that this is a function that many myths

with child heroes fulfill.

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