The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Whilst I was watching the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I was amazed by the cinematography. It could easily have been my chosen 'journey film' for Exercise 2.2: Explore a road

Walter Mitty is a fictional character, created by James Thurber, who has a vivid imagination. Under the direction of Ben Stiller, the story sees the main character embark on an extraordinary journey beyond his imagination. 

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), a negative assets manager for Life magazine, is threatened with redundancy along with his fellow co-workers, when the company is restructured for online business. The final cover photograph is intended to be produced from a particular negative taken by photo-journalist Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn). However, the negative is not among the latest roll that O'Connell has sent. The photographer lives a nomadic lifestyle, who uses more traditional methods of communicating. In order for Walter Mitty to get the negative, he needs to locate O'Connell. The only clues to his whereabouts are the negatives that are before and after 'negative 25'.

Subsequently Walter Mitty is taken on a journey to Greenland and Iceland. The cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh is stunning. The landscape images are breathtaking, with great attention to composition. The tiny figure of Walter Mitty is set against a vast panorama of mountains, whilst symmetry is used for the urban locations.

It was interesting to see how Walter Mitty was so focussed on finding the photograph that he was completely oblivious to the picturesque and sublime views that he was journeying through. As photographers we sometimes miss other opportunities to be creative by focussing on the image that we want. 

Without spoiling the outcome of the storyline, there was one moment where Walter Mitty thought that he had lost all chance of finding the negative. For me this highlighted the immense sentimental value that we place on photographs and yet we rarely take steps to back them up online.

Furthermore, the 25th negative apparently captured the 'quintessence of life'. Throughout the film the viewer longs to see what the photograph is. It would make an interesting study.