The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

We went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last night. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

It is a three hour long mesmerizing tale about life. Death. Relationships. Things you take for granted (like being born, having parents, growing up) are thrown on their sides for us to examine more closely.

When Benjamin is born an old man in his 80’s, his father is so horrified he whisks his son away to eventually deposit him on the doorstep of a home. It turns out to be the home of his new mother, who loves him and accepts him and sees something special in him straight away. She also takes care of old people. I think we often land, unwittingly, exactly where we’re supposed to be…

As Benjamin grows up mentally, his body becomes younger physically. The transformation is amazing on screen (what would we do without computers?!), but Brad Pitt is remarkable at portraying Benjamin. It was a wonderful surprise to see him in a film that didn’t involve shooting and machismo in every scene. Of course, I could also see Johnny Depp cast perfectly in this role; he seems to have more of a contemplative side to me.

The only thing I didn’t particularly care for in the film is the way the story is told through reading an old diary. Like with Bridges of Madison County, I found myself annoyed at constantly flashing back from the story of the main character’s life to the current setting where the daughter is reading it from her parent’s journal.

But, that is a very minor point in a very well done film. I, for one, thought it was wonderful. Now I have to read the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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26 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

  1. I really want to see this movie! I read the short story a few months back and I'm sure the movie and story will be hardly anything like–how do you convert a 30 page story into 3 hours without a lot of extras? 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. Trish, where did you find the story? Did you get it from the library, or buy it? Was it in an anthology? I want to get my hands on it, but I'm not sure if I want to buy it. I'll go look at the library. It'll be fun to compare the two with you when I get it read.By the way, thanks for being such a good commenter, Trish. You always stop by with something interesting to say, and it means a lot to me.

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  3. I have not seen the movie. I read the story last month, and I felt the story was more an exercise than a finished piece. I read, however, that the director said the movie was only inspired by the story, which makes sense since it was so short. One of my gripes with the story was that it seemed to have no point of view; it simply offered a glimpse into a sort of freak show with no conclusion. Did you feel the movie went beyond that?

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  4. Verbatim, I felt the movie was a love story more than anything else. While we were able to glance into Benjamin's world, a confused one at that by being born old and living his life in reverse, what was most touching was his relationship with Daisy. (Hmmm, another Fitzgerald character named Daisy…I wonder what that means?) Ultimately, like in any good love story, they love each other no matter what: through other lovers, through personal challenges neither can overcome. That was the conclusion as I saw it. "A freak show", though, is a rather apt term for much of the film.

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  5. The story is in F. Scott Fitzgerald's anthology Tales from the Jazz Age, if you can find it. It's probably anthologized elsewhere, but it's nowhere near as deep as this beautiful film.I agree with you about the narration from the nursing home, too. We didn't need that. Lots to contemplate in this odd, artistic movie.

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  6. We took Diva Drama Queen to see this the other day. We all loved it. I haven't read the story that inspired it, although I probably have it somewhere in my classroom. I actually liked the narrative from the nursing home, but I wasn't sure why the director/writer picked Katrina as the backdrop. My favorite character was Queenie. As much as I love Cate Blanchett, her character was not very likable at times.

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  7. Mary Lois, thanks for telling me about the anthology; now I'll know how to find it. I'm glad you thought the narration unnecessary, too. I enjoyed reading your blog today.Ms. George, I loved Queenie! Wasn't she the mother we'd like to be? (Wish we were?!) She was so accepting, so witty, so undaunted, so very loving. And, I agree that Daisy wasn't altogether likeable. I hated that she pushed Benjamin away in Paris, but maybe it was just the wrong timing for them. Have a good day back at school tomorrow; I assume it's your first day back as it is ours.

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  8. a few years back I took a graduate seminar on Fitzgerald and Hemingway, so I have the collected short stories for both authors. I bet you can probably find it online? And as for the commenting–it is my pleasure, Bellezza. 🙂

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  9. Bellezza, we got a very, very slim book that apparently is just this story in to the library some months ago. It was the smallest adult book I have ever processed. Anyway, you might find it in that format if you can't find the anthology. I didn't even know about the movie at that time and thought it was the strangest little book.I'm posting on my blog again, by the way. Stop by when you get a minute.

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  10. Trish, I'll look on line. Once, I bought a short story by Tolstoy (The Forged Coupon) that was easily found online; I didn't have to buy it. But, probably that won't happen with Benjamen Button since it's such a current, if not popular, thing.Kay, I'm glad to know you're posting again! I'll be sure to stop by.

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  11. I didn't want to read beyond the first line as I'm hoping to see this over the coming weekend. Looks wonderful and I get the impression that you found it very worthwhile. I cannot wait to see it.

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  12. Sorry for posting off topic in comments….I wanted to invite you to participate in my ‘Question of the Week’ feature. (Part of the Operation Actually Read Bible challenge)You don’t have to–no obligation implied–but it’s there if you want to take part. It will be a weekly event on my blog.

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  13. Westcobich, three hours of film resonates of "Dances With Wolves", doesn't it? A movie I thought would NEVER END. Benjamin Button is not like that, at least for me. Usually I like the written word best, so I'm anxious to read the story and compare the two. I think you'll like the movie if you go.Becky, not at all. I'm glad that you told me about the question of the week feature. I'll get into that as soon as my thank you notes for Christmas are written. ;)Susan, I hope you like it. I hope you had a good Christmas vacation, too, although isn't it nice to be back with our classes? It is for me, this year anyway.

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  14. This sounds like a marvelous short story AND movie. Can't wait to see it and then read the book. BTW, we have copies of the book at B&N. Check there.

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  15. Did you understand the relationship between the clock going backwards and the condition of Benjamin at birth? Old Kate Blanchette said something about it but it was hard to hear.I found some "facts" were changed in the movie, like the existence of the bridge in New Orleans that Benjamin sees when he goes off in that tugboat in the 1930s (the first span was built in the 1950s or 60s, the second span 20 years later), but those are minor points to quibble about.

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  16. Les, I have some B&N gift cards from my students, so I would definitely like to use them there for this book. Ah, I wish that I could see you working there, buy you a coffee, chat a bit about things…Working Words, Old Kate Blanchette WAS hard to understand! I felt that way about many of her lines. I connected the backwards clock to Benjamin's backwards aging, but I didn't quite figure out why. I guess I've got to go back to see the film again, or maybe the book will explain that aspect. As to the New Orleans 'architectural' facts I have even less of a clue! I rarely look at details, being more of a big picture girl, which sometimes isn't a good thing.

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  17. I've been wanting to see Benjamin Button but have to wait for it to come out with captions. I intend to read the book first, I guess. I found it in the library catalog in a collection of Fitzgerald's short stories. Has numerous holds on it of course and I have to wait my turn like everyone else. It has pretty good reviews so far, from what I've read.

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  18. Hi Meredith :)I am back on line…yea! Now I hope the 2nd of March goes well also…I am planning to see this movie, I've heard some people complain how long this movie was etc…but after your review I definitely want to see it.

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  19. I actually stayed away from this post, until I watched the movie and well I agree with you completely, but unlike you I liked the diary bit. Since I love any kind of books, a journal is a great way to introduce a daughter with her real father and what way would a mother use rather than the father's journal, the most intimate object that would attempt to compensate for a lifetime of not knowing… To be honest I have never felt so moved by a movie.

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  20. Cate Blanchett with a southern accent FTW; but Benjamin Button kept dragging on, always pausing dramatically on Brad Pitt's face, a lot like Meet Joe Black, FTL

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