THE SUPREME ORDEAL: APOTHEOSIS
(NOTE: The top section of the SUPREME ORDEAL repeats itself, scroll down for new info.)
"You cannot pass. I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor...the dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun!"
- Gandalf the Grey, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
"Only after disaster can you be resurrected. It is only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything."
- Tyler Durden, "Fight Club"
The SUPREME ORDEAL is usually the central crisis in the story. (Not the climax...that comes later in Act III). In an action movie, it will be the big action set piece of the movie. The key is that there is a central theme of death and change. The hero will be submitted to death in some way or form. It could be the failure of their mission, the end of a relationship, the loss of their mentor, or facing their greatest fears. This is usually where the hero will face the Enemy for the first time in full form. Prior this stage the hero has been battling cronies and THRESHOLD GUARDIANS, the Enemy was not truly out to stop the hero. But now the worst the Enemy has will be thrown the hero's way. Whatever the outcome, the hero will emerge changed. Joseph Campbell breaks the SUPREME ORDEAL into four different categories (SACRED MARRIAGE, FATHER ATONEMENT, APOTHEOSIS, and ELIXIR THEFT). All of them may take on a physical nature and yet they are all deeply psychological, so to understand these fully you may need to brush up on your Freud and Jung. Not all of them take place in every SUPREME ORDEAL and sometimes more than one takes place, and they can be mixed and matched. I will cover APOTHEOSIS in brief below.
"If Morpheus was right, then there's no way I can pull this plug. I mean, if Neo's the One, then there'd have to be some kind of a miracle to stop me. Right? I mean how can he be the One if he's dead? You never did answer me before...Look into his eyes, those big pretty blue eyes. Tell me. Yes or no."
- Cypher, "The Matrix"
"I am a Jedi, like my father before me."
- Luke Skywalker, "Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi"
APOTHEOSIS begins with the hero's recognition of of the divine within himself. It is the beginning of the Hero (with a capital "H"). It is the beginning of the HERO being able to accomplish that which ordinary men and women cannot. APOTHEOSIS means 'exhaltation to divine rank or stature; deification'. The Hero becomes god like...like unto a god...in the sense that afterwards they are capable of feats and acts which surpass their old selves and other normal beings. The best example I can think of in recent films is in "The Matrix", once Neo comes to recognize the divinity within himself, the power that he already has contained within him, once he believes that he is indeed "the One", then he literally becomes unstoppable. Another APOTHEOSIS story (to a certain extent) is "Harry Potter: And the Sorcerer's Stone", once Harry comes to the realization of the Wizard within him, nothing seems to stand in his way, he wins victory after victory with only minuscule setbacks.