Stay alive – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I went to watch the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with a friend on Christmas Eve in 2013. It introduced me to the singer José González, he has a gentle voice with the power to calm me down and at the same time like a summer breeze, delightfully, unnoticeably refreshing the day. I even went to his small concert(probably the only concert I’ve been to, I usually don’t bother to try to get a ticket for any popular concert when everyone is up for it) when he visited Singapore. I was among a very small group of people, with him on the stage, with lovely company and a glass of wine in my hand, it couldn’t be better, yet another story for another day.

Back to the film, it’s a story about a man who lives an ordinary, tedious, sometimes boring life. He’s the manager of the negative assets sector for a popular magazine, although he’s not one of those people who are very capable of dealing with people, he’s very committed to his work, even if it’s a small dark space often just by himself(since he manages the negatives). One day he lost one of the very important negatives for the final issue of the magazine. So he had to get on the adventure to retrieve the missing negative. And now his secret imaginary life of him starts to become real.

As it’s directed and starred by Ben Stiller, neither my friend nor I expected much when we entered the hall. It should be something entertaining and relaxing, so I thought, but it’s so much more than what I expected. Surely it is well-made, smart, funny, and encouraging. With the beautiful scenery from Greenland and Iceland and the secret/un-secrete adventures he had, it’s a really enjoyable film. (And it also was a memorable Christmas Eve :)) Besides every objective aspect of films, cinematography, editing, acting, etc., there’s something personal for me about the film, maybe it’s the commitment one can have for one single thing(in the film, Walter Mitty worked in the negative management for 16 years), it became an inseparable part of one’s life. I can’t imagine the joy, passion, and even serenity you can get from just committing to and perfecting one single thing for a long time, years, decades, or whole life. It’s not common in recent times anymore, everyone is rushing for something. Life can be filled with everything, yet it can have nothing left inside. Or maybe it’s also about photography, although at that time I just started my photography journey, and knew nothing about what it feels like to hold a slide of negative in my hand.

The evidence of existence.

It’s been a long time since I watched it, but I still remember clearly the last scene of the film, when Walter retrieved the important negative of the cover photo for the final issue of the magazine; when the MacGuffin was revealed: it is a photo about himself holding and examining negatives wholeheartedly on a bench, just one of the usual moments in a usual day. Isn’t it a beautiful ending?

Dedicated to people who made it

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