The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Directed by Ben Stiller
20th. Century Fox — Clip posted by Guillem Hidalgo
Background:

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is the very dedicated manager for negative assets (photography negatives) of Life magazine. He lives a very sedentary, unadventurous life; but when a priced negative by star photographer Sean O’Connell goes missing, he is forced to chase him around the world.

At the beginning of this clip, Mitty has just managed to catch up with the adventurous O’Connell (Sean Penn), who is trying to catch a glimpse of an elusive snow leopard. Mitty learns from the photographer a curious lesson…

Themes: Wonder, adventure. “Selfies” vs. “Being in the moment.”

Related authors: I can’t think of an author that directly relates to this clip, but if you think of one, leave me a comment!

Teaching tips:

This is a beautiful clip, but it begins somewhat abruptly. If you won’t watch the full movie with your students, you should make sure to build it up a little by retelling it to some extent.

What is great about this video is that it contrasts so strongly with the “selfie” culture, and the idea that, for an experience to be validated, it has to be recorded, photographed, videotaped. This alone should generate an interesting discussion. What about “being in the moment”?

(The point is also made in the comedy Selfie, with Karen Gillan and John Cho. At the end of a frantic episode, the leads are having a nice time together. Eliza (Gillan) automatically takes out her phone and is about to take a snapshot, but Henry (Cho) stops her. “Eliza, don’t,” he says. “You think you are saving it, but in fact you are missing it.”)

Questions for discussion:

  • What do you think of O’Connell’s (Penn) philosophy?
  • Would we be able to do what Sean Penn’s character does, and simply be in the moment?
  • Have you ever had the feeling of missing on an experience, because you were too focused on recording it?
  • When do you think that the need to record, post and share extraordinary events goes too far? Is this restricted to extraordinary events only? What are some possible reasons why people feel this need?
Please leave a comment (below) or send us a note! If you send further ideas on how to use a specific clip, we’ll move them to the body of the article.
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