TO SEE THE WORLD
Millions of people across the globe lick one’s lips with the sweet excitement of the image of oneself if not particularly as the path-breakers of the uncharted lads, at least as the enthusiasts, inherited with a vivid experience of those, who serve as an embodiment of travels. The places on Earth, appreciated as no more than a ‘commonplaceness’, at the same time stimulate emotional vibrations on the opposite side of the world. The cinematography has been titillating the fantasies of the audience with the heart-pounding images of journeys for decades, yet generally leaving the delicacies and combat with own habits beyond the frame, as well as mastering own fear in a pursuit to win a few feets expanding the comfort zone. The cosmic-kind law of equilibrium performs its uninterrupted functioning in a mean that you need to apply enormous efforts in order to obtain something beyond ordinariness, to meet with a life-breaking experience. The story of fictional Walter Mitty comes to be a kind of litmus paper, fare more a self-challenge so than call to the outer world.
One of both indicative and unobvious delicate gradations of Walter’s story is on the open from the very first moments of the narration. Mr. Mitty draws breath in nothing short of New York, a city, appreciated as the desired destination and one’s journey by hundreds of millions of people from almost every populated corned of the Earth. With a hand on heart, would it be accurate to characterize Walter as the lucky one, a fortunate soul, who makes the most of this incredible city, which gives access to new arrangements and options? To the great extent of contrast, the character of Ben Stiller is to be depicted with no more importance than a cog in the social machine, a grey spot on the map of New York. Indeed, his ‘to see the world’ of being self-limited to an undistinguished apartment with an exit to a featureless hallway of a condominium. The movie makes a definite emphasis on Walter’s mid-sociality, his voluntary custody in the middle of New York. He has been doing the same job for the last sixteen years, though he is indeed professional in his field. His social network ends with an elderly mother and an eccentric sister. Once living with a bunch of possibilities and alternatives, Walter makes his everyday breathing within a cocoon of woodenness, with a dilemma of ‘winking’ or not as the strongest emotional event.
With the scene with a camera-shape fountain, the movie draws a parallel between Walter’s life and a frame of raw film, metaphoric means that could be filled in the most inexplicable way. As Sean O’Connell would later admit, sometimes he prefers not to take a photo, but rather just to satisfy the process. The exploration of the world takes on its personal form and Walter, a deep-rooted New Yorker, would choose a solitude next to nature as a means to tune own soul. He has had enough time alone with his thoughts (in fact too much) for the last twenty years, yet he has not taken advantage of this fact. For the last sixteen years, Walter has been operating with the photos of people, including Sean, who are well-known for their ‘amazing lives’, tough Mitty has never tried to live in so much as was depicted on that million of negatives. Taking closer account to the scene with a run along with the LIFE human-scale covers, we could suggest that Walter is making his first indeed steps to the direction of living his own unique fate of a path-breaker.
The destination impact of the journey is to be more important than the actual places he visited. All incredible image-breaking landscapes of Greenland, Iceland and Himalayas play a role of no more than a panel picture, every viewer can color as one pleases in making correlations with the touches of nature of Walter Mitty. More than that, the movie makes no conditions, that life changes can be only achieved within expensive and challenging journeys abroad. More likely, that Walter has never been to the district where Cheryl lives, as well as to the park they would get in touch with her son. He has not experienced a coffee and a god-like cake with a friend in a lobby of the LA airport. The very world worth exploration is not restricted to the lane village in Greenland or the footsteps of an Iceland Volcano. The incredible story of Walter Mitty, once being set to your own pattern of life, would develop in a way you would like and this unique movie experience makes the ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ no less than one of the best live-inspiring and heart-warming movies of the recent years.
Walter dust off his never-yet-used travel bag as well as he now takes advantage of his journal of a trip, once granted by his father, still disappointedly blank. The past with the loss of a father is now being self-reshaped to the frame of life, that Walter’s parent could be proud of him. In a lapse of his travel to Afghanistan, Walter journalizes his difficulties and feelings in a way that the explorers of the past did. Mitty has been a LIFE magazine employee for sixteen years and now a lot of doors are open for him. The scene with filling the resume with a spark of enthusiasm in the eyes symbolizes that the new worldview is indeed the most valuable asset, has been gained recently, far more purposeful than photos or lines in a journal.
THINGS DANGEROUS TO COME TO
Walter fill his fantasies with the battle-scenes against a rude new-made boss, he visualizes storming into the flaming accommodation house and hiking the mountain peaks to please his loving one. This made-up reality can be characterized as a shift away from the decisiveness of doing something in a material universe, from life in a way, indeed important for him, speaking on traveling, professional hierarchy in LIFE magazine or making conversation with Cheryl. As the story goes on, each of his fantasies is to be fulfilled in material reality and one should pay additional attention to the scene when Walter finally makes a few steps to get acquainted with Cheryl. In fact, this critical moment symbolizes the initial steps on the way to face reality and not to shy away. The world-known pearls of wisdom proclaim, that the one should do things that are frightening for the person and this pattern of behavior appears to be a ticket to a real-world for Walter Mitty, a reality, where his deeds directly make effects on his life and future, even lives of his closest social environment. The deeds determine who we are.
The ‘Space Oddity’ song, as Cheryl would later sensitize, reveals deep symbolic meaning. Once looking closer to the text of the composition, we could trace the very text-line, which can capture the story of Walter Mitty, as well as millions of viewers, who see themselves within this cinematic metaphor. IT’S TIME TO LEAVE YOUR CAPSULE IF YOU DARE. The ‘capsule’ of the hymned spaceship plays the role of a strong metaphor on the self-accusations and the comfort zone, Walter has hidden earlier not to face the calls and abilities of the reality. The next defining moment of the story and Walter’s makeover is to be found and appreciated within the very steps on the way to the helicopter. For the purpose, the ran-over-time considerations as well as studying the pros and cons are all far from the means, need to make history. Walter was to take a leap of faith, a step to the unknown, supposedly frightening and sometimes dangerous. In this respect, the sequence with Afghanistan reflects the fact, that even an idea of such a trip can scare the most of people, US citizens in particular, out of the senses as no more than something purposelessly insecure.
On closer scrutiny to the details of the movie, even Walter’s financial notes can be appreciated not without interest as soon as we speak on the trajectory of the character. For years, he has been doing nothing to change own life and to eliminate debts. At present, Walter supposedly makes inconsiderate act with spending 2872 dollars and 40 cents on tickets to Greenland. The truth is that now Walter believes in what he is doing and in what he thinks is right and worth making efforts. That sounds unreasonable and freaky until we catch the fact, that the upcoming updated outlook for life indeed worths every effort and dollar invested. Ten to one, the outlasted experience and the breaking of the view of life would let Walter to find a highly-paid job and to obviate financial debts once for all as a new way of living. Walter’s traveling portfolio and his new life full of ventures ecstasied the dating platform, although Walter now finds a less interest in living the made-up reality of life, depicted for other people. While breaking oneself and the calls of the world, Walter has started to live indeed and not in name.
TO SEE BEHIND WALLS
Walter’s fantasies, among others, include one definite reference to his very element of the LIFE catchphrase. Within the very first made-up scene at the metro station, the protagonist acts as if he could see behind the walls and later on he breaks thought the office wall to attract the attention of the woman he cares. In actual practice, Walter lives in voluntary detention within the walls of grey-like housing space, the walls of the LIFE archive. In fact, he does a little practice of leaving these walls. The point is not at the lack of direct eye contact with exciting places and communicative people, as much as in the way of thinking, the clue hidden in the line of the famous motto. ‘To see behind the walls’ can be appreciated as ‘to read between the lines’ in the very sense of taking the reality, its options and openings, people and the surrounding world. Walter draws a painful picture of Cheryl in arms of the ex-husband and the reality appears to be a child’s play, favorable to those, who think positively. In the example given by the movie, ‘to see behind the walls’ could be taken as a move away from the stereotypes and prejudices, which generally limit our perception of the fascinating world.
Another revealing moment could be noticed within a scene when Walter bottoms the sideline, covered with the volcano dust, and see not only a glimpse of civilization in the middle of Iceland nowhere but particularly PAPA JOHNS cafe, which brings the painful thoughts to the surface. For the last 16 years, Walter has seen the LIFE motto hundreds of times, but he has never believed in the world and never lived the way it was written, finding one’s own purpose of life. The motivational impulse made by Sean is being transformed into a reconsideration of the words, open for the interpretation to anyone. In truth, Walter is now to become the impersonation of the values and calls for actions (the motto was created in the form of watchwords), which were incrusted to the inner part of his wallet.
TO DRAW CLOSER
The element of the LIFE motto can be characterized as the one with the deepest inclusion of possible renderings, each of the given can be, one way or another, projected on Water Mitty and his story. If we take ‘moving forward’, ‘finishing up’ and ‘approaching’ interpretations close to heart, the grey everyday routine is now succeeded by the unprecedented purposenness, with Sean’s 25th frame as a trigger point. It felt like Water tails along Sean, drawing closer each time within arm’s end. The only pub in Greenland for Sean to take a photo of the finger and to have a giant boot-like glass of beer, a tangerine cake and a maiden voyage to Iceland and finally the visual contact moments before the eruption of Eyjafjallajökul. While overhauling his friend, Walter himself shares the way of an adventurous life, which can poignant millions of people, including Cheryl. Actually, it was Sean who has been impersonating Cheryl’s vision of the ideal man, until Walter now lives through the events and travels, which indue him with the same virtues, once having a living example, can be drawn closer. At one point, the only possible solution to draw closer to Sean is to take a skateboard in a venturesome ride along Iceland, which transforms Mitty, does the groundwork of relations with Cheryl and her son and makes Walter think big.
The second interpretation of the ‘to draw closer’, namely to come to a climax, to have an eye for detail and to take a good look at, all these variations repel the life changes of Walter Mitty. He accustoms oneself to seek personally ‘important’ things in detail, to strain eyes on the beauty of the world, even with a finger of a helicopter pilot and a pianino of his mother, the last one has been seen for hundreds of times before. For the first time in the lapse of the past 16 years of work with photo negatives, Walter initiates no less than an investigation of a tiny inscription to reveal the name of the boat. In a wider sense, the protagonist gets a head start on adopting his priceless professional experience to the real world while taking material action in the universe. He now leads himself to the image, that fits the ‘male wish-list’ of Cheryl: ADVENTUROUS, BRAVE, CREATIVE. Once taken a look at a stone, has been lying on the terrain of Iceland for millions of years, Walter employs creativeness and takes it as a means to cover a distance by a skateboard relatively harmless. Mitty pays his admiration to the birds to the very extent of the involvement in the process, to fall off the bike. He has been holding the wallet, Sean’s gift, for some time without a precise look inside (apart from the motto). He would succeed to find the lost negative not so much to Sean’s hint, as to his own widening of the worldview.
The third-in-a-row critical interpretation of the ‘to draw closer’ phrase for Walter Mitty, deals with the coming closer together with one’s family and people in his life. The logic goes that Walter has been close to his mother and sister for all these years, yet the upcoming journeys and adventures, the appreciated experience, would make them closer in a way, that the mother’s move is no longer a misfortune, should be treated beyond self-made fantasies. The offtake of the piano, as well as family hugging, would later become the apogee of this coming closer. Walter makes friends with a call-center operator, thus ignoring the social barrier for such interactions. After years of dealing with Sean’s negatives, Walter makes his first steps on sharing the way of life of his distant friend. Two mates take the most of playing football in the middle of Himalayas. The surfing of Cheryl’s profile within a dating platform is to be transformed into the real world relations of two mature and mutually involved persons. For the first time in years, Walter puts a shoulder under his junior college in an archive. The previously missing ‘25th frame’ of Mitty’s life is now to be found and printed.
TO FIND EACH OTHER AND TO FEEL
Except for the fantasy on the invitation to a TV show, Walter’s evasions from reality have not included the image of a person, surrounded by an intensely social environment and new people. His social network, as well as the whole frame of life, has been self-driven into the concrete jungles of New York, one of the most populated and multinational cities on the planet. Once made the first step to the travels, Walter now gets acquainted with interesting people, who express a readiness to give assistance and to keep a company. Mitty finds simplicity in a small-talk with an operator of a call-center. He strikes up an informal acquaintance with the only passenger within the NY-Greenland flight and later accompanies the lonely pilot in a bar of the remote village. Walter passes into a ship’s crew of the fishery vessel in Atlantic and accepts invitations to make friends on FaceBook. The Iceland kids emphasize to barter and the local man saves Walter from the eruption of the volcano, wishing his best. Finally, the sherpas are willing to assist Walter in his journey to find Sean.
For years Walter has been suppressing the frustration with own life, anxiety on his perished father, worryings on mother’s move. He created a kind of reality with no need to feel through such kind of painful emotions. In spite of his remote interest in Cheryl, such attention to a digital profile could be hardly perceived as real-world feelings. Walter even uses the metaphor on Benjamin Button to carry his dreams about relations with Cheryl to an absurdity. The world is that it’s incredibly pleasant to walk and hold hands and you do not need to suffer from the incurable disease. Subsequent to a scene with Cheryl’s ex-husband, Walter made his last fantasy to avoid reality, yet he would not need it anymore as he has already mentored himself to live through reality. Cheryl could be called the ‘choosy lady’ not to her self-indulgence, but due to the fact, that Cheryl had no chance to feel something with the ‘winks’ and she reciprocated Walter’s attention in a real world. Mitty has been running from the painful thoughts on his father, whose death had changed Walter’s life’, until the day when PAPA JOHNS cafe assisted in taking the feeling and to overtake it. Finally, it is the family who shows Walter, that close ones and emotions are of great value than the old pianino and they would meet any hard time side by side and live them through.
In summary, every element of the LIFE motto assembles in Walter, who finally makes sense of his life and changes it as well as the lives of his close one. In a wider sense, this comedy with Ben Stiller is good at motivating and mobilizing its viewers to take an active involvement in one’s life.