Monday, January 12, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I finally got a chance to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and I finally finished reading the book. I'm not sure which I prefer.

The movie was beautifully made and beautifully acted. I understand that they made the story a bit more dramatic than was originally written to pull in the big names as Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Of course, both completely delivered. The movie moved me to tears and I walked out of that theater with red and swollen eyes. Benjamin's tale was beautifully told through a diary he left behind. His tale is tied to a story about a grieving father who built a clock that went backwards to remember his dead son. It seems that the underlying theme of unconditional love kept the movie flowing right - Queenie's unconditional love for the strange infant left in her care, Daisy's unconditional love for Benjamin despite his differences, and a father's unconditional love for his son. Apparently, love is timeless.

The book had a completely different intention. Fitzgerald's tale was influenced by a statement Mark Twain made about the unfortunate state of man at old age. His short story is a sardonic and satirical take on Twain's statement which has Benjamin succeeding at 'fitting in' despite his differences. From the beginning, Benjamin's parents attempt to gloss over his differences and force him to act his age despite of his appearance. It seemed to work in the beginning but in the end youth caught up with him. He ended up in a miserable marriage, living with his ungrateful son, and in the care of a nanny. All because people around him failed to notice that there was something strange about him. A tale of the consequences of fitting in despite obvious differences. A cautionary tale of the dangers of squashing individuality - a highly American concept.

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