Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Benjamin Button: NOLA on My Mind

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a great movie. From the concept to the dialogue to the photography to the visual effects, the film didn't disappoint in any way.

I often watch movies thinking, "Why did they do that? This should have been in that order. That character looks too much like this one and it's confusing." But I lost myself in Benjamin Button's story. It made no sense, but I didn't feel it had to. Brad Pitt did a fantastic job playing a character that ranged from an 80-year-old child to a 17-year-old aging man.

One place where the movie lacked was a catalyst that led to Benjamin's strange birth.

The story begins during World War I with a clock maker who intentionally constructs a clock that ticks backwards. He's figuratively turning back time, wishing the men killed in the war had never left home. But there was no instigating moment that explains why Benjamin ages in reverse. Maybe he was born at the moment the clock started ticking? No. Maybe he was the son of the clock maker? No. If you're going to make me buy the story of an elderly baby, give me a reason to fall for it.

I guess I did sit there criticizing a little bit. But I'm done.

The hidden message of the movie is a surprising one. Yes, the world would be a better place if people maintained the innocence of a child into their adulthood. Yes, growing up would be easier "if only we knew then what we know now."

But the real message is all about New Orleans. F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, which the movie is based on, takes place in Baltimore. Okay, movie makers are offered great tax breaks to film in Louisiana, but you can make Shreveport look like Baltimore in a second. No, New Orleans is more than a setting. She's a character in the movie. Her sights, her sounds, her culture... In Benjamin Button's New Orleans, all are equal. Everyone is content with life the way it is.

The story is bracketed by Cate Blanchett's aging character dying in a New Orleans hospital as Hurricane Katrina approaches. The final scene is that famous backwards clock sitting in a storage room as the flood begins to seep in. The clock continues to tick backwards.

"If only we knew then what we know now..."

Maybe New Orleans will one day get back to the way it was. Maybe the world can reverse itself to a time when people were more connected. Maybe the world can fast-forward itself to a time when we'll judge each other less and open ourselves up to people who are the exact opposite of ourselves.

In Benjamin Button's world, nothing is impossible.


  1. this was the best movie of the year - brad pitt is the hottest

  2. Did you see the story on the evening news about how the made Brad Pit look so old? It was great. Can you post it here?

  3. Which evening news did you see it on? For the most part we don't have the rights to post the network's content online. I'm sorry I missed it!

    I also failed to mention that all the movie props were donated to people in the 9th Ward still recovering from the hurricane.