Step Out: Walter Mitty and The Exploration of Personal Film

We’re officially at the end of Oscar season, and after a long and painful journey (maybe a bit more painful to others),  I wanted to take this opportunity to remember what makes this time of year so special: our collective love for the art of cinema.

Before we start, I want you to answer this question: 

 What’s your favorite movie?

 If I were to guess, I believe that this question could be answered without any problem, with a firm answer in mind which they have developed and possibly have changed throughout the years. On the same page, I can confirm that your choice was not instantaneous, and that it is an opinion which you support yourself with your own factors, be it the general quality of the film, the message it conveys, the nostalgia factor, personal enjoyment, and the list goes on. Do you already have it in mind? Perfect, as I was saying, this is not a new or unknown question, and it is quite possible even without asking the question, they have already had their concrete and well-defined answer. With this in mind, there is something so simple and at the same time so peculiar about the question, because most of the time, their answer may not be the one that is really their favorite movie, but the one that they themselves  project as their own favorite.

In many first-time interactions, whether it’s introducing you to a new classroom or in job interviews, you are likely going to be asked this very question, and there is a good reason for that. According to many studies carried out on the science of cinema and those who practice it, they tell you that there is something so surreal and strangely personal when you make the reveal of your favorite film, since on one level, it could be said that it was almost as if it  could reveal your personality in its most basic form. I don’t think there is a better example of this than remembering the Friends 4×12 episode: In the episode, You see when Rachel, one of the protagonists of the show, is asked the question, she herself tells people that her favorite movie is Dangerous Liaisons (sexy, smart, proper), but in reality, the others reveal that their real favorite movie is Weekend At Bernie’s (crazy, stupid, funny). Examples like these show us that there is something to be found within that thinking, where it exists and distinguishes itself from what is a huge difference between people’s favorite movies and what they think are the BEST movies. With this in mind, let me change the wording of the question a bit, so now I ask you this:

Is there a movie that you feel in some way or another changed your life?

Here, we’re talking about a whole other story. By choosing our favorite movie, we’re talking about an opinion where a variety of external factors are considered, that whether we want to or not, influence our final decision. It’s so much easier to feel confident in whatever decision you make when you know that a lot of people coincide with your own way of thinking, and that’s how you end up with film students who have “Pulp Fiction” as their favorite movie. It is entirely possible that this person genuinely is your true answer, but seeing how Pulp Fiction is objectively one of the best films of all time, many times this response is a desire to show yourself as someone of superior taste, and to demonstrate your understanding. what I talk about.

Like Rachel, many times this choice comes not from what we really consider to be our favorite movie, but from what we want to project to others. So although it is true that by telling someone about our favorite movie we unintentionally say much more about ourselves than we realize, at the end of the day, the question is flawed by its very nature, as it can be altered by external factors. and therefore, you will never have a genuine answer confirmed. From my own experience, this defect is solved when you ask the person not about their favorite movie, but rather to mention a movie that, for one reason or another, had a profound impact on their lives, and in a way positive or negative, it changed their lives. It is possible that right now you do not have an answer in mind right now, or frankly you’ve never really taken the time to really think about which movie you think left you with that considerable impact, and that’s completely fine. For most of the people, the cinema and television are nothing more than pleasant methods of distraction, “time killers” as we commonly call them, they are those mechanisms that allow us to forget about our own problems for a while and entertain ourselves with something easy to digest and for everyone, but in the moments where I do get a concrete answer from someone, I realize that like the original question, the answer reveals much more about the person than we realize, and for many cases, I believe even more.

It is with this same idea that I began to ask you this question with a number of different people, each with their own ideals and thoughts, and throughout this chapter I will be referring to these answers to show certain points, but to develop better. the idea, I feel that you can always tell the best examples beforehand and my own experience, so I want to take the time to answer these two questions, and see how these answers can help us to see the true complex meaning behind such a simple question.

My favorite movie since I was a kid was always The Lion King. My reasoning at the time behind that answer? Well … the lion was my favorite animal and there were lions on the screen, there is not much to say there. Years passed, and over the years the movie magazines went by, each time with a bit more of a better understanding of the true message behind what I was seeing, and for my part, forming my own opinion about what I was seeing. Since my childhood I was obsessed with that film, to the point where if it appears on my screen today, I can confidently recite each line of dialogue in the story, and although my reasoning behind the taste of the film was changing to Through the years, that feeling never went away. Already in my 20s, there is still no doubt in my mind that this is my favorite movie. It is clear that there are external factors that influenced this decision; Perhaps it is the power of nostalgia, or perhaps it is also that objectively The Lion King is universally loved, with many considering it the best that has come out of the Disney catalog, but regardless of the reason, one thing that remains clear is that this movie is It is hands down my favorite of all time. With this in mind, could you say that “The Lion King” changed my life and the way I see things? Not necessarily.

If it is a film that is an essential part of my life, and there is no doubt that I have learned lessons and lessons from it, but to this day, I could not say I will remember the Lion King as the film that changed my life. At the end of the day, my life would continue to be the same with or without it.

So which movie do I owe this honor? 

At its core, the answer to the second question does not have any kind of formulaic explanation or thoughts supported by external factors, if it is not a personal reason for each of us: Own identification. Most of the time, in these answers they come to mind with the films to which we have come to identify in detail with any aspect of it. It may be the characters within it, the message it portrays, the stories they tell, or any other detail that sticks with you, but at the end of the day, the personal connection you develop with this film is completely dependent on the person. what you are, or what you want to do with your life, and this creates a unique experience and yours alone, without any alteration of external factors.

Now I would love to share a little about the movie which I would choose to answer this criterion: This movie is called “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, and it came out in 2013 directed and acted by Ben Stiller. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, or if you’ve never seen it, you are not alone. This is not a movie which you will find in a list of the best of all time, nor be praised and admired like this icon of modern cinema or any other stupid thing or accessory that I could mention, but what I can tell you is that For a very vocal minority of people, this is a movie that has helped them through extremely important moments in their lives, and I include myself there. I would like if it is possible that if they have not seen the film they will see it without investigating the plot or watching the shorts, entering the experience as naive as possible, but if that is not the case, let me give you a short synopsis: It is our story we follow the life of Walter Mitty (Stiller), a negative asset manager for “Life” magazine; basically, he is responsible for bringing and processing the film from the field that will go to the magazine. Walter has worked in the same position for 16 years, and during that time, his person could be classified as “Indifferent”. The film presents Walter as a person who in all aspects of his life has become indifferent. He does not have any physical, economic or emotional mishap that he has to fight and overcome, but at the same time, he has nothing that is prompting him to try new experiences and become more than his family and his work, thus making him a person who is what. which has not really done anything or been anywhere worth mentioning, thus becoming someone “indifferent”, who just exists and occupies a space. This is why he daydreams, what the film classifies as “zone-down”.

In the time that Walter has worked on the publication, the very soul of the magazine has been processed and changed on his phone. It is prophetic that his seemingly simple position has so much influence, but we will return to that idea. Walter loses large chunks of his real time in a fantasy land, brought back to reality by silence, love interests, or transitional managers. In his dreams, Walter always projects himself as the person he always wanted. to be; he travels a lot and is mysterious, interesting and not invisible to others. He is confident and allows him to pursue what he wants. In other words, he is the complete version of himself. This neither pleases nor makes us feel sorry for Walter. There is a very good reason why his life is the way it is and again, he comes across unpretentious. The true story begins when his work together with his coworker are threatened, it is here that Walter has no other option and takes action in the real world and embarks on a global journey that becomes an adventure more extraordinary than anything I could have imagined.

Watching this movie, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face all the time. I wanted to drop everything and go on an adventure like Mitty did, and the message behind the short is so authentic and genuine that you only have to admire what he has to say: Sometimes you have to take the leap, because there is so much beauty in this world waiting for you to notice. As mentioned in the essential phrase of the film’s magazine: “See the world, face dangers, cross walls, get closer to others, meet and feel. That is the purpose of life ”. This was exactly what I felt, and understood while watching this movie. In a way, we are all like Mitty: we imagine so many things, we keep daydreaming about how we are going to face every obstacle in our lives with some superhero strength, but in reality, we are scared. We are very afraid to do what our hearts tell us. But we have to take risks to be able to live, because if we never give ourselves that chance of trial and error, we end up being left with an indifferent existence, where you will never feel completely satisfied with what you could be. I would like to stop here and let you yourselves be able to see it and form your own opinions, for me it will always be a film that will make me reflect and that will be really beautiful for me, and without a doubt it changed my way of seeing life and its ways.

There is a before and after to see this movie, and I couldn’t be more happy about it. As always, I would love to hear your stories with your own favorites, and if you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out my instagram at @juanctame for more content. 

This is Major Tom, signing off. 

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