Compare and Contrast: "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" Book and Movie

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” - Christopher Reeve

For those who have read James Thurber's short story and watched the movie adaptation featuring Ben Stiller, there are noticeable similarities and differences that can be compared and contrasted. In this compare and contrast essay, I'll focus on The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, book and movie, and discuss the aspects of the two versions that make them unique and explore how they each convey the central themes of the story. While the short story focuses mainly on Walter's daydreams, the movie takes a more visual approach, bringing his fantasies to life through stunning visuals and special effects. Additionally, the movie adds a love interest for Walter, which is not present in the book. Through examining these differences, we can gain a deeper understanding of the creative choices made by the filmmakers and how they contribute to the overall impact of the story. At the same time, there are also significant similarities between the two versions, such as the portrayal of Walter's desire for adventure and escape from his mundane life. By comparing and contrasting the book and movie, we can appreciate how different mediums can offer unique perspectives on the same story.

The similarities between the two start with the name of the main characters. They both go by Walter Mitty, and both are male. Both the Walter from the book and the movie have a daydreaming problem. They both share the same kind of daydreams, with both of their series of daydreams sharing the same overwhelming sense of empowerment in them. Many of their daydreams are inspired by each of their relationships. There are also some similarities between the characters in both the movie and the book. These similarities begin and end with them living in an urban, new york-like place. The themes between the two are similar in the way that they both encourage empowerment, pride, and change.

The differences between the book and the movie seem to be nearly endless. To start, the short story takes place in the 1940s, while the movie takes place in the modern era. In the movie, Walter works for LIFE magazine. Walter also goes on an adventure across the world in the movie while in the book he clearly stays in the same town throughout the entire story. When it comes to differences in character, Mitty in the book is married to Mrs. Mitty, while in the movie they are not together. In fact, in some scenes of the movie Walter is seen trying to think of ways to impress a girl named Cheryl. Also in the movie, Walter is a man seemingly in his mid 30’s, while in the movie he comes across as an older and retired man. Throughout the book, Walter’s character stays the same and has no real moral at the end of the book. In the movie, however, Walter goes through many challenges in order to accomplish a goal, which in his case was finding a professional photographer who goes by the name of Sean in order to find a “quintessential” picture that Sean himself took. This quintessential photo turned out to simply be a picture of Walter himself, as Sean and Walter were good friends. Some things are also different when it comes to the overarching theme of both the book and movie. The book’s theme seems to be overall just depressing and bland, while the movie’s theme seemed bright and encouraged those who watched to follow your dreams and to try to pay attention to life.

Both the Walter Mitty book and movie were great experiences for me and taught me a lot about life while also managing to be entertaining. Both stories manage to relate to readers and watchers, resulting in an overall good experience for most people. The movie was fun to watch and the story was interesting to read. If you haven’t read the story or watched the movie yet, I would recommend reading the short story first and if you like it I would then proceed to watch the movie. Overall, Walter Mitty is an interesting character that goes through many hardships which can be very exciting to experience with him.

16 August 2021
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