Rudolph’s Hero’s Journey

Rudolphs Heros Journey

Heroes are all around us. In many instances, their heroic journeys have specific characteristics in common. This idea can often be seen in films. The main character Rudolph exemplifies a hero’s journey in Western Publishing’s computer-animated film computer-animated, film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, directed by William R. Kowalchuk Jr.

The hero Rudolph in this film is a great example of the hero’s journey because he is both universal and unique. He is universal because he is well-known for saving Christmas in an old Christian tale. He is unique because he has a red nose, unlike any other reindeer. This makes him stand out from everyone and is also helpful in many cases. His helpfulness is seen right in the beginning of the movie where the power went out during a pre-Christmas celebration. Santa needed Rudolph’s light to find the correct switch for the power. Although this was no major issue, it is a great example of how Rudolph’s unique nose is helpful. The hero Rudolph was also assigned a quest in which he would go on many adventures to complete. The quest was to find the Toy Taker, recapture all of the missing toys, and save Christmas. He is aware of this quest as soon as he returns from his first trip to Castaway Cove. He and his friend Hermey are told that Santa’s workshop has been robbed and if they don’t catch the Toy Taker quickly, Christmas may have to be canceled. These aspects of a hero’s journey, birth, and destiny are both seen from the situation that the hero Rudolph, was in.

The hero Rudolph exemplifies the hero’s journey because he is advised by his wiser friend, Hermey. As mentioned already, Rudolph and Hermey were at Castaway Cove before the main quest was initiated. While there, they met a female hippopotamus who was able to perform any surgery one can need, including a nose swap. Rudolph was very eager to change his nose to the ordinary nose he has always wanted, but right as he was about to follow through with it, Hermey told him it was a bad idea. Rudolph then took more time and made the important decision to keep the nose he had. Not only does Hermey’s advice relate to the wise man or woman aspect of the hero’s journey, without Rudolph’s nose, but there would also be no way he would have caught the Toy Taker later on in the movie and become the great hero. Rudolph also relates to the hero’s journey because he made allies and enemies on his adventures. The entire north pole was on Rudolph’s side, as well as enemies with the Toy Taker, but Rudolph specifically made allies with Hermey, the reindeer Clarice, and the miner Cornelius, which is seen when all of them join Rudolph when he takes off to go back to Castaway Cove in attempt to catch the Toy Taker before he loots the island. Specifically, those characters helped Rudolph complete the quest in their own ways. The Toy Taker was evident to be the enemy as soon as the movie started with the clips showing him hypnotizing toys and sucking them out of children’s bedrooms. These aspects of a hero’s journey, villains and allies, and wise figures figure are both seen with Rudolph.

Rudolph’s adventures also resemble a hero’s journey because he finds romance during his quest. He finds out that his crush Clarice likes him too. He teaches her how to fly and he spent a lot of time with her before his quest was initiated and through his adventures to stop the Toy Taker. His relationship with Clarice does not distract him from his quest as she helps him find the Toy Taker by pretending to be a toy and getting sucked into the Toy Taker’s blimp as part of the plan to surround him. There is also a supernatural figure that often gives help to the hero on his journey and for Rudolph, it was the snow monster, Bumble, and his strength. Bumble was not able to fit on the Toy Taker’s blimp as he is a giant, so he was still on the island of misfit toys while Rudolph and the rest of his allies were on the blimp. He broke off a piece of ice and started paddling to catch up with the blimp. He wound up saving Cornelius’ life and catching the deflated blimp with Hermey and the toys inside. This helped Rudolph’s journey because, without Cornelius, Rudolph wouldn’t have someone to ride him and catch the Toy Taker, and without Hermey, Cornelius would not have the dental floss to lasso the Toy Taker in the end. These aspects of a hero’s journey, romance, and supernatural helping figure are both seen in Rudolph’s quest.

The next aspect of a hero’s journey is the final battle. Rudolph has his final showdown at the climax of the movie. This final battle involves chasing the Toy Taker in a gold mine. Rudolph, displaying hero-like qualities, saved the Toy Taker’s life as the Toy Taker was falling off of the mine even though they were enemies. This act was important in showing the type of character Rudolph is. His selfless acts resemble a hero’s behavior. The Toy Taker tried to run away after being saved. Cornelius came up with the idea to use a rope to try and catch the Toy Taker. Hermey had dental floss which acted as the rope they needed. Rudolph then volunteered to let Cornelius ride him and he used the light from his nose to catch the Toy Taker for good. The climax of a hero’s journey is often a little emotional. This part gets emotional as the surrendered  Toy Taker reveals his real name, Mr. Cuddles, the truth that he is just a teddy bear, and his story of how he was abandoned when he was younger. Once Rudolph’s allies found out that Mr. Cuddles was trying to save the toys from the pain he thought they’d feel later in life when their owner grew out of them, they started to feel bad for the Toy Taker, and commended Rudolph for saving his life. The last aspect of the hero’s journey is the journey home.  There wasn’t a very difficult journey home after Rudolph’s quest because the final event took place in a mine on the north pole, where all of the characters live. The only thing Rudolph had to do was help Santa restore the toys and get ready for Christmas. This was a happy event, rather than a challenging one. Both aspects of the hero’s journey, final battle, and journey home are incorporated into Rudolph’s quest. 

In conclusion, Rudolph’s actions exhibit many aspects of a hero’s journey in the film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys. These include Birth, destiny, wiser figure, villains, allies, romance, supernatural figure, final battle, and journey home. Rudolph was a hero and went on incredible adventures to ultimately save Christmas for everyone. Aside from movies and literature, the reality is that there are many heroes someone can encounter in a lifetime and it is important to applaud their journey and be grateful to have them in the world that we live in.

Max Ofgang – Author