Ben Stiller retools and expands one of the most influential fantasy stories of all time, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.’ The original work written in 1939 by acclaimed writer James Thurber was two-and-a-half pages detailing one man’s secret world of daydreaming. Stiller’s epic comedy updated to modern times is about a man who finds that his real life is about to blow his wildly over-active imagination out of the water.
This Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a modern day-dreamer, an ordinary magazine photo editor who takes a regular mental vacation from his ho-hum existence by disappearing into a world of fantasies electrified by dashing heroism, passionate romance and constant triumphs over danger. But when Mitty and the co-worker he secretly adores (Kristen Wiig) stand in actual peril of losing their jobs, Walter must do the unimaginable: take real action – sparking a global journey more extraordinary than anything he could have ever dreamed up.
It is a daunting task to take a much loved classic and transform it into a modern tale. Time and time again we have seen devotees of various stories protest any changes to their beloved account. But, these times are a changing. Technology and economic times have lent themselves to create a perfect stage for the private dreams inside our heads. In fact, the full-scale complexity of our social networking, materialism, and down-sizing, screams out for escapism. Stiller has used the visual spectacle of modern filmmaking to further Thurber’s story in an entertaining comedy filled with cinematic and dramatic scenes representative of the times. With all his visual power, he creates a world worthy of Walter Mitty’s imagination.
This updated version will surely strike a chord in those who have faced adversity in their lives and who routinely escape into a fantasy world where all is well. On any given day, you can save a cat in a tree, save the world, and save yourself from boredom. ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ allow you to relish in the epitome of escapism.
The awe inspiring and breathing scenes in this film were made possible by the British born Stuart Dryburgh, ASC (Director of Photography). Dryburgh is a New York based cinematographer whose credits include ‘The Painted Veil,’ ‘The Portrait of a Lady,’ ‘Once Were Warriors,’ ‘The Piano’ and ‘An Angel at my Table.’ Together with Kurt Williams (Co-Producer) the noted visual effects producer and supervisor whose credits include ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes,’ ‘The Incredible Hulk (2008),’ ‘X-Men: The Last Stand,’ and ‘Fantastic Four’ they have created a memorable movie experience that is so mesmerizingly beautiful and stimulating it will have your senses firing on all cylinders.
Kristin Wiig is an exceptional comedic actress who is also a talented writer. Wiig (Cheryl Melhoff) is able to convey the vulnerability of this character with sincere emotion. She understands her character who navigates the obstacles encountered by women struggling to raise children in an uncertain professional and personal arena. The film’s inclusion of women in the workplace in his updated version allows the audience to connect with Cheryl and feel her frustration through Wiig’s ability to express frustration and fear of the world she works and lives.
Walter (Ben Stiller) highlights our society’s obsession with ‘new and improved’ while allowing valuable employees and mediums to fall by the wayside. Technology and automated delivery of goods is valued more than experience. Walter, who is 'the keeper of the flame' at ‘Time’ magazine helplessly, watches his much-loved career stripped of its existence. In contrast, he works to ensure that his own existence is not just in daydreams. Stiller who does double duty as director and stars in the lead role has captured this modern day character through comedy and self exploration. He allows you to view intimate things that one may think but never express.
In this new version of the ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty,’ gone are the fantasy scenes that danced over Walter’s (Danny Kaye) head. But it is replaced by a grander modern day dream that echoes the changes in times within our society. As Walter learns, dreams can inspire reality and big dreams can change the times for the better.