“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards”
The Curious Case
Of Benjamin Button
Cast, Crew, Story, Theme, Review
Muse-En-Scene, Life Connections
The story of a man who is born in his
eighties and ages backwards: a man,
like any of us, who is unable to stop
time. We follow his story, set in New
Orleans from the end of World War I in
1918, into the 21st century, following
his journey that is as unusual as any
man's life can be.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for brief war violence,
sexual content, language and smoking)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
BRAD PITT
(Benjamin Button)
 Benjamin is the emotional core
of the movie. He is an ‘everyman’
in reverse
 Director David Fincher: “It’s
perhaps the stillest performance
Brad has ever given … Benjamin
doesn’t ‘do’ a lot, per se, but, man,
he goes through an enormous
amount”
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
CATE BLANCHETT
(Daisy)
 The director had Blanchett on
his mind since catching her
performance in Elizabeth
 Blanchett embodies a
woman, who has to make peace
with the idea of growing older
while the person she loves is
getting younger
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
TARAJI P. HENSON
(Queenie)
 Queenie gives the story it’s grace and
warmth. Her unconditional love toward
Benjamin and others is breathtaking
 Taraji P. Henson: “It’s been a very
spiritual journey for me. I had just lost
my father, and even though I miss him
dearly, it’s almost as if his death was a
part of my journey towards Queenie”
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
DAVID FINCHER
(Director)
 Directed Se7en, Fight Club, and
Panic Room
 Tilda Swinton: “I think David has
the artist's sense of holding the
actual material of filmmaking in his
own hands. His sleeves are up... (he)
sees limitless possibilities …with the
attitude of a true pioneer. He’s like a
child in a sandbox”
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
ERIC ROTH (Screenplay):
While conceiving and writing the
screenplay, Roth experienced the
personal loss of both of his parents.
“Their deaths were obviously very
painful for me, and gave me a
different perspective on things. I
think people will respond to the
same things in this story that I
responded to.”
He also wrote “Forrest Gump,” for
which he won the Oscar.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
This is the second Hollywood feature film,
after Denzel Washington's Deja Vu (2006), to
film in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The movie props were donated to the
victims of Hurricane Katrina in the 9th ward
of New Orleans.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mark Twain
Originally a 1920s
short story by F. Scott
Fitzgerald, who, in
turn, drew his own
inspiration from a
quote by Mark Twain:
“Life would be
infinitely happier if we
could only be born at
the age of 80 and
gradually approach
18.”
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
The story begins in New Orleans
at the end of World War I in 1918
with the unveiling a giant clock
in the grand central train station.
The clock runs backward in
memory of the fallen soldiers
who will never know a future.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
At the very moment that the
backward running clock is
unveiled Benjamin is born with
the appearance and physical
limitations of a man in his
eighties.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
When Benjamin’s mother
dies in childbirth, his
father, horrified at his
elderly appearance,
abandons the baby on
the steps of Nolan
House, a retirement
home for the elderly.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
In an act of unconditional love,
Queenie who heads the home,
becomes Benjamin’s adoptive
mother.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
Benjamin begins aging backward. While in the home,
he meets Daisy, a young aspiring ballerina. There is
an instant bond that lasts throughout their lifetimes.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
As the story
progresses, the two
fall in love, while
struggling to deal
with the issue of one
growing younger
while the other grows
older.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
IN THE DAVID LEAN* TRADITION
Frank Marshall: “The emotional
poignancy of the film achieves its
power through David Fincher’s
use of the camera as the
observer. He wants you involved
in the character study, so the
camerawork becomes more
studied and calm. It’s not a film
that requires quick cuts and
visceral frenetic camera moves.”
*David Lean’s film style is best seen
in his ‘Laurence of Arabia’
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
THE LIGHT SOURCES CHANGE
WITH THE ERAS.
Director David Fincher: “There’s
progression in the technology,
going from candles to gas lamps
and clear bulb incandescents to
fluorescents. There are some
movie lights, but not a lot. For
the most part, it was shot
digitally to be able to utilize
these kinds of light sources, and
also to be able to move quickly.”
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
CONNECTIONS.
There are tributes to:
― James Dean
― Marlon Brandon
― The Beatles
― Fallen soldiers
(WWI specifically and
in Iraq by extension)
― Katrina victims
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
The head is
Brad’s, but
the body is
not.
HOW THE FACES AND BODIES
WERE MADE TO AGE
A camera system called Contour,
developed by Steve Perlman, was
used to capture facial deformation
data from live action performances.
This enabled Brad and Cate’s faces
to be ‘pasted’ onto the bodies of
older and younger actors.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
Overwhelmingly Positive
Consensus voice: "An epic
tale that contemplates the
wonders of life -- of birth
and death and, most of all,
love"
--Kirk Honeycutt,
Hollywood Reporter
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
“Even though Benjamin is going
backwards, the first kiss and the
first love are still as significant
and meaningful to him. It doesn’t
make any difference whether you
live your life backwards or
forwards – it’s how you live your
life”
--Screenwriter Eric Roth
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
Existentialist theologian Soren Kierkegaard famously said,
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be
lived forwards.” True enough! It is his word that appear in
the movie trailer for this intriguing masterpiece. The film,
however, makes clear that we can understand something of
life by the people we meet along our life’s way. Director
David Fincher puts it this way, “Benjamin is like a cue ball
and all the people he collides with leave marks on him.
That’s what a life is – a collection of these dents and
scratches. They are what make him who he is and not
anyone else.” And it is those dents and scratches that make
each of us who we are as well. Here is a powerful truth
portrayed with brilliance in a powerful film.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review © David Bruce
Producer Frank Marshall:
“It touches on questions we
ask ourselves over the course
of a lifetime. And it’s rare that
one movie will elicit so many
different, personal points of
view. Someone in their 60s or
70s will look at the movie one
way, while someone who’s 20
is going to see it another way”
Photo: Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
“Benjamin Button
knows that you have
things for a certain
amount of time, and
then you have to be
okay with letting go.
You can take what you
can from it while it’s
here, but it’s never
yours”
-- Mahershalalhashbaz
Al, co-star
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ©2008 Paramount. Review © David Bruce
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