So in the past three weeks, I’ve watched David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button three times. Three times! I can’t get enough of it as I think it’s a wonderful movie. Now, for a movie that’s three hours long, there are parts that can be removed or shortened with a montage (I.e. the World War II boat scenes). But each time I watched it, I keep on noticing one thing: the concept of death. As in, the concept of death and how it relates to Mr. Button’s unusual predicament. The concept is exacerbated through the people Benjamin encounters. Some are parental figures while others are his greatest loves. And some are minor, irrelevant people who give him the profoundest life lessons.
One such minor character can be the pygmy who only knew Benjamin for a couple of weeks. He explains to Benjamin that strange people like them will always be alone, but the scary truth is that everyone regardless of gender or physicality are petrified shitless. Even the nameless old woman, whom Benjamin forgets, tells him that everyone is supposed to grow old for them to know how much they mean after death arrives. And Button’s fellow sea captain offers him that nothing matters in the end and that it’s best to let go of unresolved issues. This piece of advice helps Benjamin forgive his biological father for abandoning him because of his monstrosities (or imperfections).
Although many of his encounters foreshadow bleak fates, the three important women in his life offer different fulfilling lessons on the concept of life and death. His foster mother, Queenie, gave him faith and unconditional love. Elizabeth Abbot was his first love who taught Benjamin that it’s never too old (or too young) to start over because life is full of regrets. His soul mate, Daisy Fuller, constantly reminds Benjamin that nothing last forever and that our fates are predetermined by unmistakable events. Daisy helps Benjamin to seize life before he drifts away into a lonely abyss.
The lessons Benjamin learns are usually heartbreaking, but shed the importance of the movie’s impact. It would be a curse to age backwards, and Benjamin’s curious case helps the viewer’s see his tragic perspective: We are denied the joys of children (and grandchildren), can’t grow old with your soul mate, forced to be different, forgetting who you are or what you did, the complete isolation by people and society. Death is an inevitable, but it shouldn’t be a curse. Benjamin Button is cursed to see the world backwards.