Published December 3rd 2013 by Audible Inc
** spoiler alert **
I read (or rather listened to) this having already seen the Ben Stiller movie, so a comparison was unavoidable. And – what can I say – the story is much better. The movie took the story and made it into a clichéd pseudo-philosophic Hollywood fest. And even though I did enjoy the scenery and the way the movie dealt with the main character’s fantasy episodes, I thought the movie was shallow and rather naïve.
The original short story gets along without the obligatory and unrealistic love interest, but depicts Walter as a very sad and unsatisfied person, who comes to life and achieves meaning and happiness only in his varied daydreams.
What I hated most about the movie was the saccharine and naïve ending, where Walter leaves all his fears – and pretty much his personality – behind and becomes this brave and life-affirming person who can literally climb every mountain, find the man that no one can find and – of course – get the girl.
The rather bleak ending of the short story where Walter can only escape his seemingly meaningless life and his constantly nagging wife by imagining himself being executed by a firing squad definitely sends a different message and I can understand that that would not have resonated well with the average movie audience.
But to me it made a lot more sense and it kept the tone of the story as a whole.