Last night I watched again a film that is quickly becoming one of my favorite movies. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller. There’s a skateboarding scene that is just awesome and inspiring to watch. I don’t know why, but it causes my soul to soar in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on. And perhaps my favorite moment in the movie is where Walter meets Shawn O’Connell for the first time in the Himalayan mountains. Here, Sean Penn’s character is camped out in the cold with his camera, waiting to capture the illusive “ghost cat”, the mountain lion. (No, I’m not talking about a Mac OS.) There is this magical few moments when the cat appears on the mountainside, and the dialog between Walter and Shawn is perfectly poignant. I could watch this scene a hundred times and it would still resonate as truth with me. If there is any statement I could make about how I feel about life in the social media and iPhone camera age, this would be it. Now you’ll have to watch it to see what I mean.
We’re in such a hurry to snap everything with our phones now, that I wonder if we’re capable or realizing a truly special moment anymore. Sure, we see them, but do we experience them? Photographs these days are being cheapened, IMHO. And, do we know how to capture those meaningful and rare moments in our hearts, or just in our phone? Ok, enough on that.
I love films that focus on the imagination. I think they are rare, and that’s probably why I love this movie so much! You might remember the film adaptation of the beloved children’s book Where the Wild Things Are that came out a few years ago. That one was a trip. Big Fish, The Green Mile, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also come to mind.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is unique because it focuses on the imagination of an adult, not that of a kid.
Walter, a 40-something single guy who works at Life magazine as a negative (photo) asset manager, is a daydreamer, and a creative scene-maker in his own head. He dreams up fantastic scenarios whilst going through his daily encounters and interactions with people. Kind of like a “Chose Your Own Adventure”, but only in Walter’s mind. In the movie, others make fun of Walter for “zoning out” and going to these other worlds in his head. He’s a weirdo who doesn’t fit it. It’s like the kid that used to stare out the window during science class, and never grew up. Or never stopped. Maybe that was you! And why do the other “normal” people and workers make fun of Walter? Maybe it’s because we associate daydreaming and the imagination with children only, for whatever reason. I’ve written about that in a previous blog here. I’ve come to suspect that most adults have in fact lost their imagination. And I’m not sure it’s a good thing. If this is the case, I don’t want to be like the rest of the workforce portrayed in this movie. Dull, standardized and unimaginative. Cookie-cutter, cliche and proper. I think there’s a danger that comes with slowly erasing our imaginative side, or putting it away with the rest of our childhood box of memories. I say be an imaginative, creative, playful adult! You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…
Maybe you’re wondering what the connection of this movie is to Saint Creative, and why the blog post. How is this related to the marketing, branding, design or advertising culture? Where’s the business wisdom? Well, it might not be any, but with Saint Creative, I put a high value on imagination. We are pro-imagination. Pro-wonder and awe. Pro-creativity. So this movie moved me. I could see myself in Walter Mitty in many scenes. And I think that if you watch it, you’ll see yourself too.