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The Curious Case of
Sharlet Liebel ©2009
Fascinating is the premise that a father would run around the streets of old New Orleans with a newborn in his arms. Such is The Case of Benjamin Button. As he hesitates with the infant in his arms at the edge of the wharf on the Mississippi River, a patrolman hollers out to him. He is chased several blocks and escapes. At least he didn’t commit murder. The man hides under the veil of darkness near a well-lit porch. He looks around. Nobody is watching. He reaches the decision to leave the lightly-blanketed child on the steps.
Earlier, we learn that this father is distraught over the death of his wife in child-birth. That their child is born old and wrinkled magnifies his dilemma. Add to this drama an age when family doctors are discreet and unobtrusive into the personal lives of their patients and we are presented with the perfect setting for a child to disappear without question.
Equally unquestioning is the appearance of a newborn to be raised by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson http://www.imdb.com/name/nm 0378245/bio ) a single, black, nurturing, young caregiver at an “old folks” home. This dear woman is heard only once to say she is curious. Her meaning is to describe her free spirit in trying to experience life rather than anyone’s appearance. In the next scene, she beholds her child and sees his imperfection. Her only thought is that God brought him into the world and everyone is entitled to his chance at life. She names him Benjamin (Brad Pitt - http://www.imdb. com/name/nm0000093/ ).
How fortunate for the child. An unfortunate set of circumstances places Benjamin in an unconventional setting among aging citizens who have traveled beyond the age of disbelief, conventions, expectations, and views of society. Here, relatives visit residents who live for a time, make friends, die, and are replaced by others. It is the grandchild of one of the resident’s that plays with Benjamin and they become dear friends. Her name is Daisy. (Cate Blanchett -http://www.imdb. com/ name/nm 0000949/ )
It is such a unique family into which F. Scott Fitzgerald introduces a person who arrives old and dies young. In this household people live with dementia, repetitive phrases, physical and mental problems and no expectations of what should and should not be. Living and dying is unchallenged.
Somewhere in his imagination Fitzgerald must have considered that many people, even he, are saddened at the prospect of aging. Daisy cries in one scene, “I hate growing old.” More than that, her dreams are shattered when she is struck by a car and loses her career as a famous dancer .
Daisy is, at one time, performing in Paris and Benjamin is finally reunited with his father a manufacturer of buttons by the name of Button, just prior to his death. He visits Daisy twice: once when he plans to propose marriage, and next when she’s in the hospital. On both occasions Daisy rejects him. But upon recovering from her automobile accident she does return to find Benjamin.
Now, the two are in their 40s. To their surprise, Daisy becomes pregnant. Their happiness together is short-lived because, as Benjamin reminds her, she cannot raise two children. He leaves to travel the world as he learned to do in his earlier years when he was a younger man in an old body . He returns years later when Daisy is married and his daughter is his present age. He is now an older man in a young boy’s body.
Three major events occur during this movie that are clearly defined and create an understandable storyline. One is the gift presented to the community by the inventor of a clock that was mechanized to run in reverse. Another is Daisy who is old and about to die, at any time. She is telling her daughter the story of the only true love she ever had and never spoke about. The third is Benjamin Button who narrates his life from birth and throughout his relationships and adventures.
The viewer shares in Daisy’s tender care for her beloved Benjamin as his memory dims while he grows younger. It is a magnificent tale of living simply and loving as long as there is opportunity. Experience this movie with a friend or loved one. Nothing is ever sweeter.
Director David Fincher
Eric Roth (screenplay)
Eric Roth (screen story) ...