Hercules.

Hello everyone. Welcome to another #moviemonday discussion which is being published on a Tuesday this week due to some technical difficulties that I dealt with yesterday. 

Starting next Monday I will be discussing Christmas movies here on Katelovesliterature.com as I love Christmas time and I want to embrace the festive season. 

Today I am talking about another Disney movie, I am talking about Hercules

Let’s dive into Movie Monday (on Tuesday). 

Hercules was released in 1997. The movie was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. 

Plot.

The movie is loosely based on the figure of Heracles, the son of Zeus in Greek mythology. 

The movie follows Hercules, the son of Zeus and Hera as he must find where he belongs in life. When he was born, all of the other gods were overjoyed but Hades, Zeus’s brother was plotting to overthrow Zeus, and in order to do that he had to get rid of Hercules because he is the only person who can interfere with his plans. 

Hades enlists the help of his cronies Pain and Panic. The two were supposed to kill Hercules but they do not manage to complete the job. Hercules is stripped of almost all of his immortality before he is adopted by a farmer and his wife. Hercules grows up to be an outcast because of his god-like super strength as without the proper training, his strength does more harm than good. 

Hercules is a kind, young man who wants to do good but sadly his outcast position in life makes this impossible. He feels that he doesn’t belong, and his sadness leads to his adoptive parents telling him the truth. This discovery prompts Hercules to go and find the truth about his parentage, as he hopes that by doing so he will find where he actually fits. So Hercules sets off on his hero’s journey and the movie follows him as he learns about himself, and what he is capable of, and we also watch him learn about love, and loyalty, and what being a hero truly means. 

Characters. 

The main protagonist in this movie is Hercules. I think that Hercules is the typical hero that we see in the hero’s journey trope. He is kind, he is earnest, he just wants to be accepted. He has super strength which with the right training can be used for amazing things, but without training he causes havoc without meaning to, proving that with great power comes great responsibility. 

He is naive, he is plucky, he really is the perfect candidate for the journey that he is about to embark upon because while he is a good man, he does need to learn that strength is more than just a physical thing, and while he is a good character, he is not a perfect one. He has room to grow and learn, and this is what makes him likeable. I find this version of his character very endearing and easy to root for. 

Meg is the love interest of Hercules. I would call her the female protagonist in this movie, and I like Meg because I think she functions as more than just a love interest. She is a complex character in her own right and I think that her story is just as compelling as Hercules’. 

Meg works for Hades, he owns her soul which means that she is effectively his slave. Before the movie’s events, Meg was in love with another man. Meg sold her soul to Hades, and in return he saved her love’s life. This love then betrayed Meg and left her, meaning that she is heartbroken and forever indebted to Hades. Meg is spunky and sarcastic. She has a quick, witty sense of humour and she is conflicted throughout the movie because Hades has promised her her freedom if she helps him harm Hercules, but as time passes and Meg falls more in love with him, she feels that she can no longer lie to him. I think that Meg is a true example of integrity because in the end, despite all of Hades’ threats, Meg always does what she knows is right. 

I have to include Phil the satyr in my protagonist discussion as in this hero’s journey, Phil plays the role of the mentor. Phil trains heroes, and he sees potential in Hercules. He knows he can be the best and so he agrees to train him. It is Phil who shows Hercules that his super strength can be used for good, it is Phil who shows Hercules that he does have potential, it is Phil who guides him, who gives him advice, who tells him when he is wrong. Phil is one of those really great teachers, the ones you look back on and remember fondly because they brought out the best in you. In the hero’s journey trope, the mentor role is very significant because the mentor hugely contributes to the emotional growth of the main protagonist, and that is what is most important. 

I’ve said it before when I talked about the quest narrative, because the hero’s journey is a trope that is very popular within the quest narrative, the thing to remember is that the most important thing about the hero’s journey is the hero’s personal growth. The lesson they learn along the way is the most important thing, because if the hero has not evolved or grown as a person, then the journey will have been for nothing. 

The movie’s antagonist is Hades. He wants to overthrow Olympus and he plans to free the Titans to do so, the only person who can stop him is Hercules which is why he wants to get rid of him. Hades, while he is the antagonist, is one of my favourite Disney characters. Hades is larger than life, he is dramatic, he is over the top. He is not the typical, sinister villain, he is sarcastic, he is quippy, he can be very funny, but all of this doesn’t change the fact that he takes pleasure in destroying people’s lives, he bargains with souls like it’s nothing and he takes pleasure in the fact that he owns Meg. He takes joy in using her to hurt Hercules, and he knows that finding out that Meg was working for him will break Hercules’ heart, and he knows that Meg’s spirit will be crushed when Hercules no longer trusts her, and he takes pleasure in all of the pain that he causes. Hades is a memorable villain. 

Themes. 

The key themes of this movie, in my opinion, are the themes of love, family, heroism, and finding yourself. This movie has a brilliant soundtrack and I think the song “I Can Go The Distance” sums up the movies themes really beautifully. Hercules feels like he doesn’t fit in anywhere, and I think that he personifies a lot of insecurities that many young people may face. The thing that makes him a hero (at least physically) is his strength, and when he is young and untrained, this strength is the very thing that makes him an outcast. I think that this is something that many people, especially younger people, can relate to because often the things we come to appreciate as adults are the things that can make us insecure when we’re in school. We all just want to fit in, and we all just want to feel loved and accepted, and Hercules is willing to do anything he can do in order to achieve that feeling, which is why he throws himself into training with Phil. 

I think that love is such a key theme of the movie. It is love that fuels the farmer and his wife to take in this baby and raise him as their own child. They are kind, loving parents, they know their son has unique strength and they don’t love him any less because of it. They simply want what is best for him, which is why they support his journey even though they are going to miss him terribly. 

Meg has been fuelled and betrayed by love. It was her love for her partner that made her decide to sell her soul in order to save him. She thought he’d be overjoyed. She thought he’d 

always be there for her, but her heart is broken when he waltzes off with another woman, leaving her enslaved to Hades. Her heart has hardened, she does not wish to be hurt again which is why when she begins to develop feelings for Hercules, she refuses to admit it – “I Won’t Say I’m In Love”.  As time passes, she realises that she cannot shut out her heart, and it his her love for Hercules that leads to her risking her life to help stop Hades. 

Hercules learns that there are many strengths besides just physical strength. He comes to learn that kindness, character, and integrity are just as important as physical strength, and it is not just how strong you are, but the size of your heart that matters. I believe that love can be a source of strength, because a love for someone can spur you on in hard times. It is his love for Meg that leads to him making a deal with Hades, and in the end, it is his love for her that teaches him what it means to be a true hero and ultimately, Hades is defeated by love, because love is what gives Hercules his inner and physical strength back. 

Hercules also grows as a person, he becomes a confident man throughout the journey of this movie and at the end he is a far cry from the scrawny outcast we met at the beginning of the movie, showing that self-growth is one of the most important things of all. I think one of the best things about getting older is that as we get older, and as we learn, we tend to become more confident and comfortable in our own skin and that is exactly what happens to Hercules. 

Structure. 

I love how this movie is structured. The plot is narrated brilliantly by the muses through song, and the movie does a lot of showing rather than telling which means that we can see exactly what is happening which makes the plot really easy to follow. The movie is just over an hour and half long which I think is the perfect length. I like that we can really see the development of Hercules as a character. We see him as a baby. We see him struggling, we see him training, we can see him getting swept up in the superficial adoration of the crowds, and then we see him as a mature man who loves his friends dearly and wants to keep them safe. He isn’t perfect, he makes mistakes, but he grows and that is what makes him so likeable. I also think that this movie has a very grounded structure, and that is due to Hades’ plan. He gets rid of Hercules because of his plan to overthrow Olympus. His plan is why he wants to ruin Hercules, it is why he forces Meg to help, and throughout the entire movie, we know the day is coming when Hades will release the Titans, that is the main event, and I feel like this constant plot point keeps the movie very grounded. 

Final Thoughts. 

Overall I think this is a really great movie. It’s got a compelling plot, layered, fun, memorable and easy to root for characters. The themes are very poignant and the soundtrack is brilliant. I really enjoyed watching this classic Disney movie before I move forward into festive movies for the next few weeks. 

This has been Movie Monday on a Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed it. 

Kate xo. 

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