I love Walter Mitty. I love the 1939 short story by James Thurber. I love the Ben Stiller movie. I love that the name Walter Mitty like Judas or Juliet or Romeo or Hamlet or Nemo or Benjamin Button was created in a story and then became part of our language, signifying something specific. I love Mitty’s daydreams and how they are connected and caused by his current realities.
I love how different the movie and short story are, and yet how the movie is a great example of how you can imitate the essence of something. It does the whole BASED ON…and yet hardly a recreation of thing quite well.
I love how I read this story in high school and now I read it with high schoolers. I love how I have historically related to Walter, and it’s fun to see how some students also relate, and some don’t. I love how some students vocally say how stupid the story and movie is and that nobody thinks like that and yet the two people sitting next to him or her are at that moment writing about how much they relate to Walter.
I love that the story is inspiring, and makes me want to go do and experience more. I love that in discussing both the movie and story you can point out how in one the character changes, and has a classically happy ending, and in the other one not so much.
I love specific scenes and lines and humiliations that the stories bring up -the poetry falcon in the movie, and the puppy biscuits in the short story. Etc. Etc. I love how I have avoided writing about Walter Mitty because there is so much I like and want to comment on and explore.
The Ghost Cat deserves it’s own essay. The motto of LIFE and it’s connection to the theme of our “transition to life online” deserves mention and exploration. The music, the cinematography, the personal revelation that I enjoy movies that show words being written on the screen is something that could be explored more. The reality that a few brief pages of fiction published in a magazine in 1939 can have such a big cultural and cinematically significant, and personal, impact is both staggering and exciting.
I appreciate Walter Mitty, on the page and on the screen, because his imagined existence helps validate my real existence. One of the reasons we read, and consume stories, is to feel that we are not alone, that there are others like us, that there are more interesting and exciting realities available (even if we have to make them up ourselves).
There’s nothing quite like the last month of school around _____, _____, ______, ____, and _______ to push you into fantasy worlds. I love that in watching the movie, and reading the story, you are given an option to relate to either of the endings: resigned destruction in front of a firing squad or cinematic scenery backed with uplifting soundtrack where past experiences and personality quirks are validated and shown necessary.
I love the stories of Walter Mitty because they remind me that life, in many ways, is like a Choose Your Own Adventure Story. And sometimes the adventures are real, and sometimes the adventures are real in the ways that fiction is real.
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