Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Reality & The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Just the other day I mentioned how part of the uniqueness of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight is the way that he spins fantasy in a way that makes it seem potential real and rather than "comical" something deeply psychological.

Similarly, I think that is were the David Fincher's film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is most successful. (warning post may contain minor spoilers).

The story is clearly not based on a true story or anything close, it's completely fantastical...no spoiler there. The story of a man who ages is backwards is beyond the diagnostic abilities of Dr. House.

Yet, at the same time...there are a number of moving parts in the film, and screenwriter Eric Roth has crafted the film in such a way that despite the fantastical elements, you can easily find yourself finding sympathy for Benjamin. Whether something's concrete like being abandoned by his father at birth, or something more theoretical like the challenges of loving someone who's life is going in a different direction then your own, I believe many people find themselves emotionally connected to Benjamin Button.

One of the curious decisions that I found that Eric Roth made in this film was the way in which he had the story narrated by a dying Daisy who's daughter reads from Benjamin journal...at this same time Hurricane Katrina is headed towards Daisy's New Orleans hospital.

Certainly, F. Scott Fitzgerald in his original creation of this story did not have any intentions of including this type of plot detail, but I think placing real events, places, and cultural history in the film helped detach viewers from the fantasy and send them into a world of reality.

By placing years, and time on the events it let's viewers experience basic human emotions, thoughts, and feelings in a fresh way. In many ways this film offers the same appeal as Forrest Gump in that regards. The characters might be so unique that there rather common personal discoveries seem fresh, catching viewers off guard.

To me, this is the real magic of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.


The Bosom Serpent said...

It sounds to me like a new twist on "The Picture Of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde.

Loren Eaton said...

Interesting. I was quite excited about "The Curious Case" until I read the novella, which did next-to-nothing with the speculative premise. Sounds like the movie uses it more effectively.

Anonymous said...

it was a little weird to see an old version of Brad Pitt's face pasted onto a kid's body, but i guess that's why they call it a "curious case"

Anonymous said...

Allison and I finally saw the film today. I told her it felt like Forrest Gump even before I read your blog.

I thought the Hurricane Kartina element was an interesting choice. I wonder if Brad Pitt had something to do with that. He has become "Mr. New Orleans" recently and is all about rebuilding the city.

I also had a problem with Benjamin being born baby-sized and then dying baby-sized. Why was he growing younger, yet bigger, early in life... and as life went on he kept getting younger and smaller again? That didn't make sense to me.

I love reading your reviews after I see a film.