Five Lessons from the Film: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Walter MittyWalter Mitty is based on a short story with the same title which was written in 1939 by James Thurber. After some prior production into screen, it was again made into a movie in 2013. It is a film that cannot be categorized into one genre. It has all the elements of a drama, comedy, adventure, suspense, action and romance. The film just satisfactorily made it into my list of inspirational films. There are just few sexual references that don’t seem necessary if it attempts to have comical moments. It can be a good motivational instrument too and better if it was based on a true story. It is a film about courage, dedication, having confidence and taking action in the things that you’re passionate about.

Walter Mitty (the main character) played by Ben Stiller who was also the director is a negative asset manager in a famous magazine called “Life”. He is an ordinary employee who has a lot on his plate – a mother & a sister to take care of; an unappreciated job in a corporate firm; a crush that he can confidently talk to only when he zones out and daydreams; and a position affected by the downsizing after the company got acquired.

The film mainly chronicles the adventures he was forced to get into when the negative #25 which is supposed to be the cover page of the last print issue of the magazine was missing. The missing negative was specifically requested by Sean O’connell (a photojournalist) to be the last cover before the magazine goes online and supposedly will depict the quintessence of life. This has made the transition manager furious about him. In his desire to save his reputation and show commitment to his work, he decided to look for that missing negative. His journey in finding the missing negative brought him to as far as Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas in Afghanistan.

Driven and motivated by his crush every time he zones out, he has braved several obstacles which oftentimes are too much to imagine being real. Though some may seem to be a bit over & confusing if he was daydreaming or if it’s actually happening, those I think were necessary in order to add value to its suspenseful quality, surprise and excitement. The plot though is not as great as the film – Extremely loud and incredibly close, which is also an adaptation of a novel. There were common predictable twists and common subplots, but the end is indeed surprisingly unpredictable, though maybe not for some.

In the span of almost two hours, here are the Five Lessons it teaches:

1. Sometimes, the least honored task is the one that brings greater honor. Walter manages the negative assets of the magazine company and as the digital age emerges, his work became irrelevant. Besides that, the film depicts his job as a lowly one and has put his office at the bottom floor. Most probably, he is an unseen employee who works behind the scene and doesn’t mingle much with the other employees. He had low self-esteem and has no confidence, thus, his frequent zoning out lets him have a moment of peace and claim his secret prowess. However, as the film progresses and ends, it opens the viewer’s minds into the reality that the lowly sometimes are the indispensable assets instead.

2. Wake up. We often like to dream but not do anything about it. For Walter, it took him nearly two decades to wake up and be the man he imagines him to be. Dreams must become real goals that each person must pursue with strong conviction.

3. Valuing people. The film teaches the value of every people around us. All the people that Walter met have led him into fulfilling his quest. The chain of situations he was into has brought different persons into his life whom he must trust. Moreover, the film also teaches that we must treat people, no matter what position or nature of job they are in, with respect that a human being deserves, not look down on them but give them a chance to prove themselves.

4. Commitment to Work. Walter’s commitment to his work was unquestionable. For nearly two decades, he had never missed anything or mislaid any negative. He had never committed a mistake except for the supposed last negative that was oddly delivered to his care.

5. Inspiration boosts us.
There is no question about this. True love can give anyone the strength and confidence that he doesn’t know he has. It was love that has inspired Walter Mitty to go on. However, it was also the lady that he loves that has almost let him give up on his quest. We need inspiration to boost us, but it shouldn’t be our driving force.


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