Monday, October 25, 2010

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button--The Movie



I watched this streaming on Netflix last night. It is 2 hours and 46 minutes long yet I wouldn't have minded another hour or two. It is adapted from an F. Scott Fitzgerald story which I haven't read but not MUST read. I was surprised to learn Fitzgerald had written anything in what is now known as sci-fi/fantasy. But then I guess I couldn't claim to really know what a Fitzgerald story could be classified as since I've never read one. I've had The Great Gatsby checked out of the library more than a few times since my senior year in high school but never read more than the first few pages. Apparently I've been missing out on something special. That is if Fitzgerald stories are all typical of this one in its cast of complex character, its insight into human motivations, its contemplation of meaningful concepts, its weaving of theme through setting and its intricate plot.

I took a break to check out the library catalog for Fitzgerald stories and was about to order a couple or three (The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night and The American Library collection of his novels and short stories which includes the short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) but I decided to first see if any of his work was available online and found them at Adelaide U including Benjamin Button.

Besides being an exploration of the themes of time, mortality and being alive it is a love story. And talk about a star crossed love. Benjamin was born with all the characteristics of a very old man and ages backwards thus it wasn't until they were both in their forties that for a few years he could have the love of his life whom he had met and first loved when they were both pre teens. And then only for a few years as soon he begins to look more like her son than her lover.

I just discovered the movie adaptation retains very little from the plot of the actual Fitzgerald story other than the character's name and the concept of a man aging backward. And no evidence of a love story in the synopsis I just read. Now I'm worried that the movie has spoiled the experience of reading the story for me. Not for the usual reason of giving away the plot but because the movie version was so wonderful I fear the Fitzgerald version will fall flat in comparison. Usually with movies based on good literature it is the other way around with the movie unable to rise to the vision of the author.

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