I am a very empathetic person. It’s easy for me to be watching a movie and insert myself into the place of the character on screen. Because of this, depending on the movie, when I leave the theater I am extremely excited or amped. So I thought I would list the 2 movies that stand out in my mind that really get me excited and why.
The first movie is probably in the running for my top 5 favorite movies of all time. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an awesome story. A quick synopsis; an average man, Walter Mitty, has worked for a magazine company who is shutting it’s doors due to the internet boom. Walter is in charge of the last cover photo but has misplaced it. In order for him to find it he goes on an adventure in search of the photographer.
What really stands out about this movie to me is this quote from one of the movie posters “Stop Dreaming, Start Living”. Those words sum up part of the problem I see in today’s youth. With Instagram and Twitter showing us super rich people going on amazing trips, it can seem as if the adventurous lifestyle wasn’t meant for regular people. When the truth is regular people live this way every day, they just aren’t in the mainstream view. Another part about the movie that stands out to me is the photographer, Sean O’Connell, played by Sean Penn. Sean O’Connell is this enigmatic character who, to me, is almost like the Dos Equis man, “The most interesting man in the world”. Sean O’Connell is the mysterious, adventurous camera man. They don’t really know where he’ll be next, and his life to many seems incredible. It’s only when Walter tries to hunt down Sean O’Connell that he starts becoming an incredible person too. His travels take him on many adventures most would consider meant for someone extrordinary . When he eventually catches up with Sean up in the mountains, there’s a moment that really caught my attention. Sean is on assignment to photograph a snow leopard, and when he finally spots one he only looks at it. Walter asks him why he didn’t take the photo, and Sean replies “sometimes I don't. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.” Sometimes it’s best that we enjoy the environment around us, instead of trying to show it to everyone else. A picture can only relay so much, to really understand something, you have to experience it in person. That is what adventures are. They’re experiencing moments and growing as a person. If you take an amazing picture of something in your travels, it may get a lot of likes, but those people won’t know how it really felt to be there until they themselves have.
The Second movie that makes me want to get out and explore is "Meru". This is a documentary as opposed to a fun fiction such as "Secret Life of Walter Mitty". It follows the story of Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, and Renan Ozturk and their attempts at climbing Meru.
A little backstory on the movie:Mt. Meru is 22,000 feet tall. It has only been summited once. Conrad, Jimmy, and Renan are the only people to have ever completed the “Shark’s Fin” route. Needless to say Meru is an insanely hard climb, even for experienced climbers. The movie starts in 2008 with Conrad, Jimmy and Renan’s first attempt to summit Meru. They got extremely close but had to stop 300 feet below the summit due to weather conditions. This part of the film brought forth a realization for me. One of the marks of a great climber is knowing when to throw in the towel. These guys could have very possibly gotten to the top of the mountain that day, it was only 300 feet away. Though if they had, there was a high probability that they would have died on the mountain. It brings forward an important question that every climber must ask themselves. What is more important? Getting to the top, or coming back safely? Sometimes you can’t do both. The middle piece of the movie is comprised mainly of what Renan and Jimmy were doing in between the 2008 attempt and the 2011 attempt. Both men would go through near death experiences just a few days apart. Renan would fall off a cliff side, damaging his skull and spine. Jimmy would get swept away and survive a Class 4 avalanche. Both crazy experiences that each man would need time to recover from. Fast forward a few months and they’re all back together (Renan, Jimmy, and Conrad) on their second attempt on Meru. The second attempt is FAR more interesting and filled with adrenaline rushes than the first attempt. While already half way up the mountain their port-a-ledge breaks in the middle of the night. Luckily, they are able to jury rig up a fix for it and hope it holds for the rest of the trip. After that, Renan has a sort of half stroke, due to his head trauma from a few months prior. It leaves him not able to speak for part of the trip. Despite all of these problems the three make it to peak. The mountain really threw everything it could at these three men, but they pushed on.
To some people, seeing how incredibly hard these men pushed themselves to summit Meru would deter them from even attempting. For me, seeing them on that climb made me want to get out on a mountain as soon as possible. There’s a certain allure a mountain holds. A sort of dare, as if saying “I bet you can’t do it”. I think this is present in the minds of most climbers. The thing that pushes them to finish, to see if they really can do it.
Both of these movies capture the spirit of adventure. The epic-ness of exploring something new to you or to the world. Movies are an amazing way for us to escape to a new world for an hour or two. I hope that I do get to experience the same spirit of adventure like Walter Mitty, or the same ground breaking exploration like Jimmy, Conrad, and Renan did on Meru. Only time will tell, but for now I’ll continue to train and look for more inspirational pieces that make me push myself harder.