Benjamin Button

By Jim Selman | Bio

Assuming you’ve been to the museums a couple of times and don’t speak Spanish very well, what can you do in Madrid on a cold and wet winter day except find an English-speaking film? I did, and finally caught up with everyone else and saw The Strange Case of Benjamin Button. Put me down as a fan, but the funny thing is that it is one of those films that you’re not quite sure if or why you like it.

First of all, it is about age. Brad Pitt is born ‘old’ and gets progressively younger as the days go by. It reminds me of a George Carlin routine about growing younger each year and being born in a nursing home with all your needs taken care of and then playing golf and going fishing for a couple of decades before your friends throw a big party to celebrate your starting work at a very high salary—you continue to work and can even enjoy PLAYING with your kids, until finally you are back in diapers and end the whole show in one big orgasm! For all I know, this routine may have inspired the movie.

All the acting is wonderful and the cinematography is terrific, with lots of interesting flashback effects and period lighting. It is really well done. The heart of the picture, however, is the love story between a childhood sweetheart (when he was seven and looked eighty). She gets older and lovelier as he gets younger and, after some bumps along the way, their hormones collide in a very beautiful and moving sequence of events. There are even a few tear-jerking moments as they continue to age in opposite directions. I hope it gets an Oscar for something (probably best screenplay, given the competition for the best picture).

What I am left with is that age doesn’t matter and it really is relative, especially when it comes to love. It is also about “Carpe Diem” and getting the most out of every day. There are lots of not too subtle messages that ‘anything can happen’ and we need to be open and ready for the surprises—both the good ones and bad ones. The part I think I found most touching was a point in the movie when Brad Pitt finally acknowledges that he ‘loves’ her, but is rejected. He continues to love her from afar until one lucky day she appears and it was as if they had been together all their lives.

The message I suppose is that love transcends time and life is life—no matter which direction you are moving through it. There is a quotation I am fond of: “We live life backward, but we learn it forward.” I think that is true, which is one reason I look forward to growing old…to discovering all there is to remember and share with those who follow. 

© 2009 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.


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