confetti, smarter people

Inside The Mystery Box of J.J. Abrams

This is such a wonderful article in the New York Times which explores not only the magic shop of Bad Robot but also the whizbang legerdemain of an exciting filmmaker on the cusp of releasing his most personal work to-date, Super 8.

The most illuminating fact I came away with was that J.J. Abrams attended Sarah Lawrence College, also the alma mater of Dr. Joseph Campbell.  Campbell’s exploration of mythology (most famously in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, and The Power of Myth) is one of the touchstones of my storytelling insights.  I imagine Abrams walking the same halls as the good doctor and, perhaps, perusing any special shrines or collections the college may have of Campbell.

For all I know, none of that happened but, as the ‘mystery box’ marketing machine of Super 8 lures us into theatres, I like to think that it did.  And that, when the box is finally opened, I can truly mark J.J. Abrams down as one of my heroes of storycraft.


Mash-up of the Super 8 movie poster and one of the publicity stills.


About Angelo Barovier

I was born. I'll be around for a while. Then I won't.


4 thoughts on “Inside The Mystery Box of J.J. Abrams

  1. I just stumbled onto the connection between Campbell and Abrams via Sarah Lawrence College myself. Fascinating.

    So much of LOST was pure monomyth drawn from the wells of Joseph Campbell’s writings. If it helps you with more storytelling insights, here are many of those connections explained by another small idiot with a tiny bit of knowledge in a vast and intricate world.

    If they don’t help, ok, I’ll call my mother.

    Posted by Brian Shipman | July 1, 2011, 11:29 pm
    • I already like the cut of your jib, Brian. I shall certainly give it a read.

      Posted by Angelo Barovier | July 2, 2011, 12:02 am
    • Fabulous work, Brian! Or, should I say, Mystimus. I ambled through it and savored the insights gleaned. I also read the comments but failed to add my own because, unlike you, I am lazy and it takes more for me to add yet another login to my repertoire. I’m not sure if you’ll ever return here to read this but, allow me to say a few things:

      Firstly, in terms of structure, I applaud you. You’ve laid out a clear path of your own for readers (without ADSD) to follow and, within that path, you’ve clearly marked the sections and their intended illumination. It was rather like taking in an informative museum tour.

      Second are your theories. Fascinating. That’s is all I need to say. Well, obviously I needed to say more before and will also do so after, but you — ehem — get my meaning.

      Thirdly, you make a very convincing and corroborative argument which, though my kneejerk analytical impetus is inclined to scientifically examine to dis/prove, satisfies my curiosity on the subject. It’s really not far from how I looked at the series — which was as a metaphor to enlightenment. I find it amusing that naysayers (even some in the aforementioned comments of your article) decry the ‘religious’ aspect of LOST and its controversial finale when, in point of fact, it’s not about religion at all. It’s hardly even about faith (aside from the belief in something greater than flesh). It is merely about enlightenment and all which it encompasses, wrapped in a palatable and entertaining new mythos. However, by using a fine-toothed comb, you have served to illuminate the deliberateness with which the showrunners weaved their mythos and that I most certainly appreciated in reading your similarly deliberate article.

      I do thank you for stopping by and not only entertaining me with your work but also serving to reinforce my suspicion that J.J. Abrams once sat in a dimly-lit room of SLC and poured over the notes of a man whom I will forever call The Master of Stories.

      Were I possessed of a larger circulation, I would offer to repackage your article here (and break it up into separate sections for the less obsessive to ingest) but I doubt it would benefit its reach in any way. So, barring that, I will happily endorse your link here as fascinating, illuminating, and entertaining. If you are a fan of LOST or a disenchanted, former fan, I strongly urge you to carve out some time and enjoy the insights of Mystimus by clicking on the aforementioned link.

      It’s long and arcing but, like a pop fly, the trajectory is worth the wait for that satisfied feeling of catching the ball.

      Posted by Angelo Barovier | July 2, 2011, 2:00 am


  1. Pingback: Coriolis and Finnegans Wake | Thoughts On "S" - February 4, 2014

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