Ben Stiller’s name doesn’t spring to my mind when I think about brilliant direction or beautiful acting. But the 2013 movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty sticks out like a sore thumb from the Stiller’s regular movies. The movie, a remake of the 1947 movie of the same name, tells the story of a negative assets manager at LIFE magazine and his hunt for a lost photo negative which is to become the cover of the last LIFE magazine before they move onto an online-only version.
There are many things that made me love the movie. Stuart Dryburgh manages to capture us with some of the best textbook frames i have ever seen.
The leading lines
Objects in groups of three and that too with perfect symmetry. I just love it when i don’t have to wander the entire screen searching for the subject.
The film also has Sean Penn as a rugged photojournalist who shoots on film which results in an instant man crush.
And he captures a sentiment i often feel. Somehow taking a picture detaches you from the moment. The camera becomes a barrier that prevents you from being there.
But the best part of the movie is Walter Mitty himself. I probably do this in every movie I see but i could identify myself with Walter Mitty. Mitty, in the movie “zones out” quite often and dreams up impossible scenarios like saving his love interest’s three-legged dog from a burning building and engineering a prosthesis on the way down. I usually go one step further; I dream up impossible sequences and get depressed when they never happen.
In the movie Walter says he had an idea of who and where he will be when he was 17. But his father’s death changed everything and finally he becomes someone who has nothing to put in a “been there, done that” column on a dating website. All this changes in his last week in office as he chases an important photo negative to Greenland, Iceland and finally to Afghanistan. When he reaches Afghanistan he finds out that the photo was in his wallet all along.
I’m not a believer in the philosophy that the thing you’ve needed was with you all along. But I believe in taking control of what happens to you. And I believe there are always people interested in your well being.
The movie captures the idea of taking control. You don’t always have to simply accept what happens to you. Try your best. Either you’ll win or you’ll fail with no regrets.