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Narrative: The Hero's Journey, Emperors New Groove (2000) 06/10/2016

Figure 1: 'The Emperor's new Groove' (2000) Cover Art

This film review will focus on the film 'Emperors New Groove' (2000), The story is based on an arrogant young man known as Kuzco, a spoiled prince who can get whatever he wants any time. However, when his advisor Yzma if fired, she makes it her ultimate mission to get rid of Kuzco and take control of the throne. Being turned into a Llama and cast away from his home, he must find a way to turn back into a human and defeat Yzma.

The Disney film was released in the year 2000, was directed by Mark Dindal and produced by Randy Fullmer. Jon Debney created the soundtrack and Chris Williams came up with the story, with a little influence from another similar story called the emperor's new clothes, written by Hans Christian Andersen.

This film review will not be like others previously on this blog for this review will be focusing heavily on 'The Hero's Journey', whilst still making comments about the film itself do not expect the artistic analysis to be as deep as previous reviews. This film however in its design is quite impressive, nothing really feels out of place and its special humor is something not really seen in most animated films, like breaking the 4th wall. 

Whilst from a technical standpoint the film isn't much to look at its still beautiful in its own way. "The movie doesn't have the technical polish of a film like "Tarzan," but is a reminder that the classic cartoon look is a beloved style of its own." (R Ebert. 2000)

Figure 2: Kuzco
There are multiple interpretations Hero's Journey but for this review, we will look at Joseph Campbell's version, "The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization." (The Writers It is comprised of seventeen steps.

1. The call to Adventure
The Hero/Main character is given an opportunity for adventure.

2. Refusal of the Call
The Hero cannot participate in an adventure due to constraints.

3. Supernatural Aid
Magical/Unexplainable help from someone/something pushes the hero on the path to adventure.

4. Crossing the Threshold
The Hero begins his Journey.

5. The Belly of the Whale
The Hero becomes distanced from his own world.

6. Road of Trials
The Hero is tested before he can continue.

7. Meeting the Goddess/Love
The Hero experiences unexplainable love.

8. Woman as Temptress
The love tempts the Hero away from his ultimate objective.

9. Atonement with Father
The Hero must confront the reason/person who gave them their power.

10. Apotheosis (God-Like Status)
The Hero becomes godlike.

11. The ultimate boon.
The Hero achieves their ultimate goal.

12. Refusal of return.
The hero refuses to return back to their world.

13. Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero has to escape with the boon.

14. Rescue from Without
Sometimes an unknown person/unexplainable event helps the hero.

15. Crossing the Return Threshold
The hero returns to his world, with his/her knowledge he readjusts and helps others.

16. Master of Two worlds
The Hero achieves balance with both worlds.

17. Freedom to Live
The Hero has completed his quest, feels fulfilled and has no regrets. (Happily Ever After.)

Figure 3: Yzma & Kronk

In Emporers New Groove it can be broken down really simply. 

1. Kuzco is introduced as the main character and his ultimate goal is to build a summer pool. 

2. Pacha asks that Kuzco doesn't destroy his home but Kuzco is going to do it anyway.

3. Kuzco is turned into a llama but Yzma

4. Kuzco is taken back with Pacha to his home, only to discover he is a llama.

5. Kuzco realizes he needs to get back home and return to the throne.

6. Kuzco gets lost in the jungle.

7. Kuzco still wants to build his summer pool. 

8. He tries to betray Pacha for getting in his way.

9. Pacha then tries to explain to Kuzco he is going to be killed but Kuzco won't listen, Pacha then leaves Kuzco alone and he must learn from his mistakes.

10. Kuzco finds Pacha and they begin to travel back to the throne.

11. Kuzco gets home but is confronted by Yzma.

12. Kuzco's cure is scattered among many potions, meaning he needs to find the right one.

13. Kuzco then cycles through potions in order to find the correct potion, turning him back into a human, this leads him on a wild chase.

14. Luck allows Kuzco to fight Yzma by turning her into a cat.

15. Kuzco drinks the potion, turning him back into a human.

16. Kuzco has become less arrogant and less harsh.

17. Kuzco doesn't destroy Pachas Home but instead builds a home next to Pacha.

And they all lived happily ever after. Due to the way Kuzco's character is depicted it is hard not to like him, he turns from arrogant, selfish prince into a respectable funny friend. Hero's journey buildup is quite clear in this film but his temptation aspects (7/8) is not really that prevalent in the story. Some parts shine really well whilst others just fall a little bit short.

Figure 4: Pacha & Kids
Now the style of the film is quite nice too look at, whilst on a technical level the film may not be as impressive as some of Disney's other films for its time, it still does its job. The Aztec theme works really well with the general feel of the film, and the fact the whole film is traditional animation just makes this film so much more appreciable. 

The film did have a troubled development and some parts of the film there are minor bugs/problems but it doesn't kill the film. The soundtrack for the film was nothing to incredible either but overall this film works as a film. The writing for the film is rather pleasant, cracking witty jokes and phrases that you wouldn't normally hear that have some sort of cheesiness.

The main pull of its film are its characters, every single character in the film from the disgruntled old man to the tiny squirrel, no-one seems to get left out. Even the designs are down pat, Kuzco's dress being like some sort of Peacock and Pacha's comfy peasant hat and Poncho just give him this loveable solidity to him.

The film is aimed at younger audiences and tries to relay a positive message to kids, "This movie promises to be a lot of fun for school-aged children and adults. Shrewd casting and some inspired humor (with Aladdin-esque cultural references) make it an above-average morality tale. The message is clear: Treat others with kindness and respect, and don’t think too highly of yourself." (B Smithouser.)


The Writer's Journey.
Hero’s journey. (1985). 
(Accessed on 6 October 2016)

Plugged In.
The Emperor’s New Groove. (2000) 
(Accessed on 6 October 2016)

R Ebert 
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
(Accessed on 6 October 2016)

Image Bibliography

Figure 1, 'The Emperor's new Groove' (2000) Cover Art:

Figure 2, Kuzco:

Figure 3, Yzma & Kronk:

Figure 4, Pacha & Kids: