walter mitty with quote

Backpackers Perspective on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Backpackers Perspective on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – So recently I came across the trailer for the new movie called The secret life of Walter Mitty and it immediately grabbed my attention because the movie seemed to contain all topics and activities that I am really passionate about. These topics include travel, adventure, fantasy, photography, freedom, and just generally escaping the grind of day-to-day working life to experience and see the more untouched parts of the world. The fact that this movie was made on the foundations of travel, photography and experiencing life to its fullest really resonated with what I am passionate about and the many ideals of an adventure backpacker.

Backpackers Perspective on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The main star who plays Walty Mitty is Ben Stiller who I think is fantastic and also from the trailer I could tell that one my favourite actors Sean Penn also starrred in the movie. After seeing the trailer throughout December 2013 in the lead up to Christmas I could not wait to see the movie but unfortunately in Australia the movie didn’t come out until Christmas Day, and actually I don’t think it came out until Christmas day worldwide so really my chances of downloading it from the Internet or somehow accessing the movie before Christmas seemed to be an impossible task. I spent Christmas here in Sydney with my family as I am at home this year and not travelling. So after Christmas day was all done I immediately got my tickets and went along the cinema at Bondi Junction on Boxing Day to see this much anticipated movie.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in a Nutshell

One thing that I did notice was that after about 20 minutes of watching the movie most of the highlights in the trailer had already occurred and I began to realise that the movie contains a great deal more substance than what the trailer gives off.


In a nutshell the movie is about the main character Walter Mitty who is basically a very very average and awkward character who had great aspirations of living an exciting and creative life until his father died and he was relied upon to take care of his family. Walter Mitty falls into a subdued and somewhat introverted lifestyle where his confidence levels are shot and his communication skills rival that of a shy teenager. He tends to enjoy aspects of his job as a negative asset manager for Life Magazine but nothing overly interesting or exciting ever happens to Walter in his 9 to 5 grind. The movie shows how Life Magazine is going through major change in its pursuit to take its magazine online and subsequently bringing in consultants to lay off a whole lot of workers with in the company.

Walter Mitty seems to like his job however doesn’t particularly love his life as he often goes into these moments of zoning out where he finds himself stuck in a moment daydreaming about some amazing adventurous crazy fantasy which he wishes was reality.

As the movie moves forward we realised that the main adventure that Walter Mitty has before him is to find a missing photograph negative taken by Sean Penn’s character Sean O’Connor which will ultimately be the front page cover of Life Magazines final print magazine issue. Sean O’Connor is renowned to be one of the world’s greatest photographers and Walter Mitty is faced with the arduous task of finding Sean O’Connor’s whereabouts in the world so that he can track him down and find out what happened to the missing photograph negative so that he can save the job that he enjoys at Life Magazine without disappointing the consultants who have been brought in to make substantial layoffs.

To add a love story to the movie there is a girl who Walter Mitty works with who barely ever recognises him however he comes to start communicating with her over the problem of finding the missing photograph negative and it is her inspirational words of “life is about courage and going into the unknown” which really inspires Walter Mitty to get off his arse  and get out there to find the missing photograph negative. Ultimately this means finding Sean O’Connor out in the wilderness where he is doing what he does best photographing nature and the beautiful hard to come by shots around the world. As the movie goes on Walter becomes more and more out of his shell to experience great adventure in an attempt to search for Sean O’Connor. As the movie goes on Walter comes out of his shell and his zoning out begins to lessen as he turns his fantasy into reality.

Without going into too much detail and explaining the whole movie you should know that there are a lot of underlying messages that come out of this movie which really do resonate with the whole Backpacking culture and lifestyle design culture which is something that I’m certainly passionate about.

How the movie resonates with a Backpacker?

There are many different ideas about what Backpacking is all about and what Backpacking culture and Backpacking travel is and represents. As for me it’s really about getting off the grid, getting out of the day-to-day grind and experiencing all that this world has to offer. To me Backpacking is freedom and all about experiencing different things in life, not being confined to a situation where you feel that you are wasting your life away by not doing exactly what you want to do. Backpacking culture is as much to me about adventure travel as it is about lifestyle design.

Clearly that was the case with Walter Mitty whilst he enjoyed his job he certainly didn’t enjoy his position in life and clearly felt like he should be out there experiencing more that life has to offer.

By getting out there and experiencing some serious adventure such as skateboarding down the hills of Iceland, trekking up the Himalayan mountains of Afghanistan and getting on a large fishing boat in Greenland Walter Mitty certainly gets more than he bargained for in the way of adventure and life experiences.


Whilst you may go on a backpacking adventure and your travels may not reach these extreme heights that Walter Mitty did in the movie, but the core message still remains you should get out of your comfort zone and go out see life, experience new things and different cultures and open your mind up to this great world that we live in instead of just settling for mediocre life wasting away in an office or a cubicle or in a deadend job where you are wasting away either being uninspired and boring or spend your life stressing about little things which ultimately  is not where you want to be in life.

At the end of the day The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an inspirational movie, it’s a movie that really resonates with people who want to escape the 9 to 5 and get out there to experience and live life. It also resonates with people who have already immersed themselves into a similar type of backpacking culture.

Finally, Walter Mitty is able to come out of the shell of a life that he lives in and gather up enough courage to ask the girl of his dreams out on a date and it’s of obvious the girl that he likes is clearly smitten with the new and improved Walter Mitty.

The movie is full of great scenary from Iceland, Greenland, Afghanistan and the Himalayan mountains, New York City and other great scenic areas from around the world. The movie also allows you as the viewer to give a lot

of thought to your own position in life and along the way the movie comes with a lot of quirky fun and laughter throughout the movie.

It seems to me that Sean Penn has a knack of being involved with movies that have an underlying message of experiencing the world and all its beauty as I know that he was involved with the movie called Into the Wild and also with this movie which is sure to become a favourite on the Backpacking circuit.

If anything I would encourage anyone to go and see this movie who wants to get out of their comfort zone and experiencing the beautiful cultures, sites and sounds that the world has to offer.

Try to take away from this movie the core message that you should not settle for average and try not to get stuck in the rut of corporate life, especially if you are not happy. Because there is so much beauty and adventure out there to experience. Remember life is short.

Some great quotes come from this movie including the following:

“Life is about courage and going into the unknown”

This is the statement that Cheryl Melhoff, played by Kristen Wiig, makes to Walter Mitty to inspire him to get out of his comfort zone and set travel to find Sean O’Connor.

The other and probably more thought provoking quote from the movie is the one imprinted on the inside if the small brown leather wallet that says:

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

This is the core message which Walter Mitty learns towards the end of the movie. It is also the same motto of Life Magazine which is quite a deep thinking statement which says that challenging yourself and discovering the world is the meaning of life.

If you haven’t seen the movie I would strongly recommend that you do and keep in mind the underlying messages that the movie presents.

If you have seen the movie please leave a comment below with your views on the movie and how it resonates with backpacking culture and ideals.


Backpackers Perspective on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by Josh Boorman:

If you enjoyed the Backpackers Perspective on the Life of Walter Mitty and you feel that you can resonate with many of the aspects of the movies and underlying issues that were represented then we would love to hear from you and the comments that you can leave in the section below.

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Joshua Boorman

Joshua Boorman

Founder & Editor in Chief at Backpacking Addictz
Come with me on a journey with me to various destinations throughout the world. We discuss all things Backpacking, Lifestyle Design & Online Business to help you achieve new found freedom and create a life of meaningful fulfillment.
Joshua Boorman
About The Author

Joshua Boorman

Come with me on a journey with me to various destinations throughout the world. We discuss all things Backpacking, Lifestyle Design & Online Business to help you achieve new found freedom and create a life of meaningful fulfillment.


  • Dani

    March 20, 2014

    Hi! Loved your perspective of Walter Mitty! You are so right that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty does give you a sense of the adventure and great wide world that a backpacker experiences. To me Sean Penn as Sean O’Connell really made the entire story of the negative and the “quintessence of Life” part of the story so powerful! Cheers.

  • Joshua Boorman

    Joshua Boorman

    April 8, 2014

    Hi Dani, thanks for your comment. I am glad to hear that others could resonate with this film just the way that I did. I couldn’t agree with you more in that Sean Penn’s character really added to the mystery & adventure of the film. Cheers 🙂

  • Astried

    May 28, 2014

    First sorry if my english is not very good.

    I really like the movie. It really inspired movie. Yeah i want to get out from my comfort zone and dive into the sea of adventure someday. The movie messages got me. For me it is not about travel only, i think it is encouraged people to really living their life. Make choices by their own. Stop pursue same path with other. Yes we can have similar common life like other but It is our life 🙂 Live it.

    It bugged me when the company in the process of transition into online. I teach computer for bachelor and it kinda hit me. Broke my heart a bit that technology replaces people.

    So anyway, sorry for my rambling about my thoughts.
    Yes to adventure 😀

  • Christopher Ketchum

    August 5, 2014

    Does anybody know what kind of backpack he’s using here? I haven’t been able to find anything quite like it and I’ve been shopping online for days. I want one with those steel frame he has in the back. Anyone know?

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