Every so often there are movies that change our lives. Movies that guide us, encourage us, and teach us to explore ourselves. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film that does just that. Here’s the thing, I can think of about a dozen people right of the top of my head that constantly are saying “Man, I wish I could do that!” or “Maybe one day I’ll…” Everyone does it. We all have doubts. Sometimes we even have doubts when we absolutely know we are capable of doing something. Something inside of us still holds us back. So what happens? A lot of us spend too much time thinking about dreams of doing great things, seeing great things, and accomplishing unknown feats because that first step is what holds us back. This film teaches us the greatest truth. It’s the first step that is always the hardest. Everything else usually falls into place.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film based on a short story written in 1939 by a creative genius named James Thurber. However, the film is very different from the short story. In the short story, Walter Mitty is an everyday, average guy. He spends most of his time doing ordinary things, living an ordinary life. However, he secretly dreams of doing amazing things and living out experiences he feels he would never get the opportunity to enjoy. Romance, honor, selflessness, and courage are all feelings he thinks he can only experience in his dreams. The difference between the short story and the film is that in the film he realizes that life is not about dreaming. In the film, Walter Mitty works for LIFE, the magazine, and is in charge of receiving film negatives from photographers. The reality that occurred to me is that he has to sit in his office and admire what other people have gotten to experience and see. He doesn’t believe he can do those things as they’ve been placed on a podium; high up on a magazine cover. How can he achieve those things? This is the kindling for a daydreamer. LIFE is closing its doors and Mitty is in charge of receiving the final cover photo. The only problem is he can’t find it and sets out on a quest to track down its eye. This is exactly what Walter needed.
Walter is a quiet, calculated, and almost subdued kind of guy. Portrayed by Ben Stiller, he dreams mostly of asking out a girl in the most romantic ways possible. He dreams of being a hero. I’d say he’s a lot like about 95% of guys out there. Maybe it’s because I view myself as a dreamer, but stories that are relatable are always the best kind. Especially when Walter finally decides he has to get out there and experience life, and the only thing that is holding him back is himself. It’s a mantra for the determined. If you want something, you have to be willing to go after it.
The film itself is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It is filmed on location in Iceland and focuses on the journey Walter takes to track down the picture’s photographer. It is filled with wide, breathtaking, panoramic views of breathtaking landscapes. Even if you aren’t a dreamer, you learn why Walter is one when you get to see the things he experiences. The connection between Walter and his quest is one that goes down to his core, down deep inside and pulls at his strings, turning him inside out, and changing him into the person he always thought he was. It’s a revelation experience watching someone so timid do things like jump from a helicopter or try and outrun a volcano explosion. It’s inspirational learning where Walter came from, discovering himself all over again. I can only describe the experience as powerful.
I expected a relentless journey from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and that’s exactly what I got. This is a story of self-discovery. One that teaches us again what is most important in life. It’s living it! Sometimes we need to remind ourselves, like a shotgun to the face, what really matters. Watching this film is like breathing fresh air. You don’t realize what fresh air is until you’ve had it. That’s exactly how I felt afterwards. Definitely go and see this film if you’re looking for a dream or inspiration. Just remember, life is not there to dream about. It’s there to love. Stay Gold, Pony Boy!
I give The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 5 “ghost cats” out of 5.
by Jason Burleson