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  • Dean Bainbridge

Kinda Like Walter Mitty

When was the last time you went to a movie by yourself? You should try it. It's fun and liberating. Especially how these days you just have to wait a week before you're one of only half a dozen punters in the theatre.

Walter skateboards through Iceland - as you do.

One such time I went on a solo movie mission was to see The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. There was something about the odd surreal nature of the story and my apparent isolation in a dark abandoned theatre that seemed to fit.

For the uninitiated, it stars and was directed by the surprisingly skilled Ben Stiller. It was a remake but absolutely went it's own way with this cinematic interpretation. So, the spoiler free version might sound like this...

Walter is a very insular guy. He daydreams a lot and he might be letting perfectly good opportunities pass him by on account of his daydreaming.

I can tell you a bit about his job. He works for LIFE Magazine processing negatives and film. One of Walter's heroes is Sean O'Connell played by Sean Penn. He's LIFE's rogue rock star photographer with whom Walter shares a long standing but detached relationship.

An incident at work leaves Walter scrambling to locate a missing negative. It's a very significant negative. Walter keeps a picture of Sean on the wall and in an inspiring moment, it beckons him. 'Come and find me.'

With the help of co-worker Cheryl played by the charming Kristen Wiig, Walter sets out on an adventure that leaves his daydream fantasies for dead.

And that's all I'm prepared to say about the plot.

Sean beckons Walter to find him

The story, in my opinion is the quintessence (important word, that) of great cinematic adventures. It's not a fantasy (although Walter fantasises all the time) but it has quests, helpers, heralds, ogres, goddesses, villains and a pretty damn inspired victory.

It also has a lot to do with beards. And who deserves to wear them.

Now, the central theme of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is borrowed from, and generously appropriated to, LIFE Magazine, his employer.

It's this, as inscribed in a wallet. (also quite important)

The motto of LIFE

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of LIFE.

Makes your work's mission statement seem kinda lame, yeah?

You'll have to watch (or re-watch) the movie to fully appreciate the power of that inscription, because the solution to Walter's problem and the purpose of his unique journey are entirely captured in that quote. The script is tight and the writing is effortlessly great.

It's inspiring if you want to go deep, but on a superficial level, its bloody funny, well acted and shot in surprising and clever ways.

Here's the trailer by the way, which I'm happy to say gives away very little - and I think is one of the better trailers out there.

One other inspiring influence - and an inspired bit of musical casting - is David Bowie's Space Oddity. I won't say any more than that, but trust me, if you're going to use a song in a movie - especially one that everyone has heard a million times - this is a spectacularly brilliant way to do it.

So, what about you. Do you have a motto? A purpose? If not, why not? While you're figuring that out, give the LIFE motto a little test run. It has worked for me.

And it worked for Walter.

(sorry, that could be a spoiler)

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