Last week, I talked about the call of adventure and how the acceptance (or refusal and then forced acceptance) of that call acts as a transition point in the story. After accepting the call, the hero leaves the ordinary world and steps into the extraordinary world. Disney tends to handle this in a song or a dramatic pan out.
Identifying the extraordinary world is as simple as stepping through the wardrobe or leaving the shire to journey to the great beyond. In some cases the extraordinary world is as simple as being not home. In others, characters are taken somewhere magical and amazing.
I’m going to use the same examples as I did in the post, the ordinary world, just for clarity.
In How to Train Your Dragon, the extraordinary world wasn’t a place, it was a realization that changed Hiccup’s entire world view. The realization that dragons didn’t have to be their enemy, that instead they could be your best friend was the extraordinary world. And for huge chunks of the movie, the ordinary world and the extraordinary world were kept separate with Hiccup splitting his time between each one and using the tricks from one to master the other. Things only got messy when the worlds collided. It was a really interesting take on the ordinary/extraordinary world and it made the typical hero’s journey fresh and interesting. Here’s my favorite scene showing the extraordinary world from How to Train Your Dragon.This incidentally also marks the end of the first trial.
In the sequel, the extraordinary world was a place. Further and further from Berk. But again there’s an interesting inversion because the way Berk is presented makes IT the extraordinary world to rest of the archipelago.
In the Croods the extraordinary world is everywhere but their cave. The further away they go, the more extraordinary it gets. In Inside Out, the extraordinary world is everything outside of central headquarters. Same deal with Rapunzel and her tower. Belle’s extraordinary world was the Beast’s castle. In the Swan Princess the extraordinary world was the enchanted lake. UP’s extraordinary world was Paradise Falls. In Wreck it Ralph, it was other games.
When the extraordinary world is a place, the protagonist has one of two goals regarding it. To get out of it and go home, or to get as far from ordinary as they possibly can. The hero’s journey is a journey after all. And most journeys have a destination. However there is one special kind of hero’s journey that’s takes a bit more interpretation. When the extraordinary world is a person.
Whether it’s a manic pixie dream girl or a cat, a magical nanny, or a cat in the hat, these journeys occur when some strange and extraordinary stranger intrudes on the ordinary world and forces it to change to become extraordinary with it. For instance, in Enchanted the the extraordinary world depends on your protagonist. For Giselle, it’s New York. For Robert it’s Giselle and her strange ways wreaking havoc in his slice of life.
In Big Hero Six the extraordinary world was Baymax. It fits all the requirements, Hiro even returns to the normal world at the end of the movie, changed. Monster’s INC’s extraordinary world was our world to some extent, but to a larger extent Boo.
Can you think of any other examples where the extraordinary world was a person?