Walter is a Labrador who lives in Italy with his human. Walter loves the sea. He loves it so much that he makes a run for it whenever he can. One day, Walter’s human sensed great cinematic potential in his good boy’s habit, and so he decided to strap a camera to Walter’s back. The resulting quasi-first person footage of Walter’s excited, breakneck journey to the sea is an experience without equal. Yes, the pale blue dot is still amazing, but I’m torn now. That video—the first ever glimpse of our tiny world from such a vast distance, accompanied by wonderful, stirring narration by the late, great Carl Sagan, and intercut with clips from some of the greatest moments in cinematic history—is obviously a truly spectacular piece of work. Humbling, hopeful, and perspective-realigning, it has remained my favourite video on the internet for years.
On the other hand, though, Walter really loves the sea:
There is so much poetry to this clip that it’s a little bit overwhelming. There’s a moment at the end there where Walter hangs in mid-air for a split second, suspended at the apex of his victorious leap, where everything is right with the world. It’s when he finds himself there, at the highest point of his jump, his long, winding run behind him, that he knows he’s reached his goal, and he relaxes. His labour done, the water now beckons to him and all that’s left is for gravity to act on the arc of his trajectory and the two will be reunited. And that’s the thing: We don’t know how long it’s been since Walter has been in the sea. It could be weeks, it could just be a day, but because Walter is a dog—and a Labrador at that—his excitement would be the same either way. Dogs experience time in a different way to us. They’re so much more firmly wedded to the present than we are, and we could stand to learn a hell of a lot from the four legged furry Zen masters. By giving us this camera perspective, we feel Walter’s journey intensely, and damn is it a powerful experience. We feel it right from the start, for the four seconds before Walter is let off his leash: This run, this visit to the sea will the best thing ever. He cannot wait to get down there. Nothing will stand in his way. There is literally nothing else on Walter’s mind other than getting to the water. His floppy little ears flapping in the wind, precious paws pounding the changing the terrain and tongue undoubtedly spraying spittle along the route, Walter is a pup on a mission. Get to that sea, now! Why? Because! We’re so privileged to share this world with dogs, and this video is such an incredible experience because it makes us see the world like they do for a beautiful half-minute.
It’s like Being John Malkovich, but even better. Being Walter The Dog. In fact forget the MCU, I’m gonna need a cinematic universe of Walter’s Adventures Through Joy.