The secret life of Walter Mitty

The secret life of Walter Mitty is a second film adaptation of the short story written by James Thurber of the same name “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” in 1939. Set in the present time frame, The Story of Walter Mitty has been focused on modern-day challenges down-sizing, people losing their jobs to technological advancement, and global travel.

What condition does Walter Mitty have?

The secret life of Walter Mitty is the transformation of a man who is disappointed in himself and finds escape from present moments through fantasies. The transformation slowly happens when he starts to discover his courage.

The opening scene shows the protagonist of the film, Walter Mitty is in conflict about whether he should hit the wink button on the dating site eHarmony and send the message to a colleague he secretly admires. The interesting fact is that he knows what he wants but lacks the nerve and determination to follow through with his desire to connect with her.

The secret life of Walter Mitty

What is the story of the secret life of walter mitty?

Walter lives in New York City where he worked for 16 years for a life magazine, as a photo editor. The sole highlight of Walter’s modest career is to handle the works of a photography superstar Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), who roams the world in search of exotic subjects.

Walter’s conscientiousness on the job has kept him afloat till now. Life magazine is now going digital and Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott) has been appointed to manage the smooth transition. Everyone is on edge that they will be sacked.


Quintessence of life

Negative #25 “Quintessence of life”

Sean O’Connell sends Walter photographs and a wallet acknowledging him for his work. Negative #25 is an image that Sean proposes for the last cover of LIFE called the “quintessence of life”. The negative, to Walter’s shock, is missing and his new boss, Ted Hendricks, is pestering him not only about negative#25 but also about his fantasizing. His mother (Shirley MacLaine) and sister (Kathryn Hahn) are also troubled as he keeps zoning out.

Walter’s office crush, Cheryl Melhoff, volunteers to help him in his quest for hints to find Sean and missing negative#25 with him. Obviously, he has a number of fantasies about her including one in which he runs into a burning building and saves her three-legged dog. In another fantasy, he vents his anger on Ted Hendricks in a fight that ruins the city’s streets.

Cheryl provides the assurance and with the support Walter received from his father who died when he was 17, Walter begins his journey.

The secret life of Walter Mitty

Walter starts to experience real adventures

Walter is then thrust into a journey of many “real” adventures throughout his pursuit of the missing negative and learns more about life than he expected. He follows the hints to Greenland in search of the roaming photographer. Walter starts to experience real adventures like a last-second jump onto a drunk pilot’s helicopter, punching a shark, and surviving a volcanic outbreak.

Still, on his adventure in Iceland, we saw a glimpse of his personal life, which makes the audience feel a little more emotional connection to him. He speaks with Cheryl about his father and explains to her how he used to skateboard and have a Mohawk as a young man. His father significantly influenced and encouraged Walter’s sense of adventure. When his father died, Walter explained, he had to take responsibility, so he shaved his Mohawk, got employment (at Papa John of course), and started providing what he could for his family.

After learning about Walter’s personal challenges, we feel a connection to him. Aren’t many of us putting the needs of others before us? Aren’t we guilty of settling down in our comfort zone, and never pursuing our passion because we are scared of what might lay ahead?

On a journey to self-discovery, Walter began to realize why his life felt so ordinary as he started analyzing himself.

A step behind Sean O’Connell

Walter returns back home at the demand of his employer only to be sacked when it’s revealed that he doesn’t have negative#25. Walter ends up at his mother’s home where he discovers one of his hints, an image that matches his mother’s piano. She tells Walter how Sean O’Connell paid a visit to her and was very fascinated with Walter’s work. Walter starts his journey again to find the photographer and finish what he started.

Finally, Walter catches Sean on top of a mountain in the Himalayas Afghanistan, Sean tells Walter, he is trying to capture a photograph of the rare Snow Leopard wandering in the mountain. They spot the animal and see it through the camera. After Walter questions Sean when he will take the photograph. Sean’s answer is a lesson for all to hear,

“Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have distracted by the camera. I just want to stay in it.”

Sean O’Connell

When Walter inquired about the missing negative, Sean explains that attempting to be cheeky, he had placed the negative inside the wallet. He chooses not to tell Walter what the picture actually portrays. When Walter returns to America, the security at Los Angeles airport delays him from arriving from Afghanistan. He needs a friend to vouch for him.

Todd, from eHarmony, comes to his rescue and is shocked by who Walter is. Walter inquires Todd about what he assumed of him when they started their communication. Todd’s answer helps Walter realize what his escapade has done to him.

Todd tells Walter, “I pictured you as this little gray piece of paper, but now I see you, and it’s like Indiana Jones decided to become the lead singer of The Strokes or something.” The response helps Walter to recognize he can be that guy.

The secret life of Walter Mitty

How does The Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie end?

Finally, Walter collects the wallet from his mother, who had rescued it from the trash, he has angrily thrown it. He had the negative but chooses not to see it. Finally, he brings missing negative to Life‘s offices and tells off Hendricks for condescending to the staff that made the magazine so honored.

The audience can connect actually connect to Walter Mitty, and he is nothing extraordinary, like many of us feel every day. Walter doesn’t look at the image he fantasies the whole movie, he just goes after what he wants (Cheryl). His self-confidence in who he is is rewarded by the final cover of Life magazine; it shows Walter executing his average job. The “Quintessence of Life” comes full circle in Stiller’s delicate message said by Sean O’Connell in the movie “beautiful things don’t ask for attention”.

The secret life of Walter Mitty

What is the message of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty short story?

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty gives a great message for finding happiness in your attitude towards life. The purpose and self-identity lead to more joy in life than any exaggerated escapade in itself could.

Ben Stiller provides a humorous, yet touching story that can tell us anyone who feels they are not doing enough in their life. All of us can relate to Walter Mitty, lost in the ordinary routine of our everyday lives and this story offers a way to overcome it.

Walter’s expedition contains many escapades that Walter had only fantasies of but in the end, it wasn’t the fantasies that brought Walter happiness. Instead, those escapades provide a structure for helping Walter gain confidence in his own existence. By the end of his expedition, he knows who he wants to be in life and what he wants to get from his own life.

The combination of Walter’s escapades (something he has always wanted) and his newfound self-assurance in his identity led to an escalation of his overall contentment.

Walter’s journey became easier as he altered his attitude. His choice of attitude influenced his actions.


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