I personally think that the three greatest tasks for film in the 20th century are (1) To make the epic, that is to tell the tales of the tribes of the world. (2) To keep it personal, because only in the eccentricities of our personal lives do we have any chances at the truth. (3) To do the dream work, that is, to illuminate the borders of the unconscious. The only film maker I know that does all these three things equally in every film he makes is Andrei Tarkovsky, and that’s why I think he’s the greatest living narrative film maker.
The quotation is from Stan Brakhage, on the occasion of Andrei Tarkovsky’s award at the 1983 Telluride Film Festival. (This site describes in startling detail how Brakhage’s admiration was not reciprocated…)
What was true, to Brakhage, for cinema in the 1980s remains a high ambition for all art in this century. And it strikes me as quite a serviceable definition of myth: encompassing the social, the personal, and the unconscious.