Hero & Villain Archetypes in Film: The Nurturer

Hero & Villain Archetypes in Film: The Nurturer

A Chapter by Keaton S. Ziem

Analysis of specific character archetypes in film, citing examples. In this case; we examine The Nurturer.




“This list is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.”

Itzhak Stern, Schindler’s List


“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” �"Clarence, It’s A Wonderful Life


Nurturers cultivate, aid, and heal others. They relieve the oppressed and encourage growth in others. They themselves might likewise need help in overcoming hurdles in their lives, and it’s through their effort to nurture themselves that they are given the knowledge and strength to nurture others.  Or it could be that they are in a unique position that allows them to assist those that they see are in need. Either way, The Nurturer must also recognize the difference between rescuing someone from physical danger and saving someone from spiritual or internal crisis, even if one is the cause behind the other.


Nurturers in Film:


Nurturers in film are often generated from trauma or tragedy that they have overcome or are in the process of overcoming. For instance, Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) from Fearless (1993) is a man who survives a catastrophic airplane crash, and in so doing, doesn’t only lose his fear of death but rids himself of the fear of living, totally and completely. In this case, saving others is really just another way of saving themselves. Alternately, Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) from Good Will Hunting (1997) seeks to aid Will Hunting (Matt Damon) for his own good. Nurturers are necessarily fueled by curing others�"it drives and motivates them to do what they do, though ultimately there comes a realization that they can’t save everybody, or even those who do not want to be saved.


Examples of Nurturers in Film:


George Bailey (James Stewart) It’s A Wonderful Life (1946): George Bailey is a man who has selflessly given himself to the community of his hometown Bedford Falls his whole life by way of running and operating his father’s building and loan company that has helped many people make a life for themselves outside of the slums they had been stuck in previously. At least until George falters with mental and emotional exhaustion and contemplates his own suicide, only to be given a glimpse into what life in Bedford Falls would have been like if George had never existed; giving George insight into the differences a single life can make for the good of many.


Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) Schindler’s List (1993): A war profiteer, womanizer and member of the Nazi party in World War II Germany, Oskar Schindler was the last man the oppressed Jews of Krakow, Poland would look to for aid. Yet, in employing Jews in order to keep production costs of his company low, Schindler becomes intimately aware of the atrocities they faced in those turbulent times. Slowly, a seed of sympathy grows into a desperate attempt to not only rescue as many of his employees as possible, but also to rescue Schindler’s own conscience for having been a part of the political system that allowed such monstrous actions against human beings to take place.


Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) To Kill A Mockingbird (1962): Atticus Finch, a lawyer in a small Alabama town in the strongly segregated world of the 1930’s south, agrees to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman; exerting a strong moral and ethical example for the community and for his daughter. However, in nurturing Tom Robinson’s claim to innocence and furthering the boundaries of social acceptance, Atticus is in fact helping to nurture the mindset of a whole community.

© 2011 Keaton S. Ziem

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Added on October 2, 2011
Last Updated on October 2, 2011


Keaton S. Ziem
Keaton S. Ziem

Los Angeles, CA

I was raised in a cabin in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine forests in the continental United States. I had nothing to do with the amount of trees that grew there. I am an only child with two brot.. more..