The other day I posted Watching Life Through a Viewfinder — Are Photos Ruining the Experience? on the difficulty of making photographs while enjoying the moment. The article didn’t attract any attention, so I thought I’m talking about something that’s of no interest to anyone. Until I saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). Director and main actor Ben Stiller might not have produced the most sophisticated of movies, but interestingly it’s all about the search for a missing negative, a photo shot by photojournalist Sean O’Connell alias Sean Penn. And boy he’s shooting with a trusted Nikon F3/T Titanium.
While the remake of a 1947 flick isn’t first class entertainment, there’s a key scene with Walter Mitty a.k.a. Ben Stiller finally finding Sean high up in the Himalayas. With a huge zoom mounted on his Nikon Sean Penn’s after a snow leopard.
The moment the predator walks into the frame, Sean lets Walter take a look through the viewfinder. And makes no attempt to take the shot.
Walter Mitty a.k.a. Ben Stiller, confused, asks Sean Penn, “When do you gonna take it.”
“Sometimes I don’t,” says Penn.
“If I like a moment (…) I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just wanna stay in it.”
“Stay in it?”
“Yeah, right there,” smiles Penn. “Right here!”
For what it’s worth, it’s a Hollywood product, romanticizing a good old hip film attitude. Still, it’s at least comforting to see that the retro approach makes it onto the big screen…
BTW, in Hollywood movies actors don’t seem to prefer state-of-the-art digital gear. You generally see old film Leicas and Nikons. Maybe because the modern cameras look obsolete too quickly? Film cameras definitely make a movie look more timeless.
Same goes for mobile phones. Think Motorola StarTAC, once a must-have in movies.