Monday, 29 March 2010
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This is another 'Read the book, see the Movie' challenge, this time around its the turn of 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The most obvious thing you notice when you first open the book is how incredibly short it is. It is only 27 pages long, considering how long the movie was I was gob smacked. The beginning of the book put a very humorous slant on Benjamin's predicament. He is born a fully grown elderly man complete with white hair, a long beard and the sass to go with it. It had me laughing quite a lot and really is funny. Then the book suddenly takes on a more serious note as Benjamin's bewildered father does his best in the situation to bring Benjamin up. The book moves at a lightning pace (as you would imagine) Benjamin has all sorts of adventures, gets married, has a child, joins the army and lives life to the full. Ironically it is youth that causes the most problems for Benjamin. As he ages his appearance gets younger. He suddenly finds that despite being in his sixties no-one will take him seriously as he appears to be just a boy. Tragedy begins to creep into the story and becomes sad. His wife leaves him, his child is embarrassed and unsympathetic. His nearest and dearest decide it is his own fault that he is getting younger and they shun him.
We never really get much of a feeling as to how Benjamin feels or copes with this situation, he goes through life trying his best but when things do go wrong for him aside from the occasional tears there is no introspective thought on his part. You never feel you know Benjamin as a character, you are just along for the ride.
All in all it was enjoyable but lacked emotional impact. If the book had been longer it could have been a masterpiece.
The movie is very different from the book but in a good way. It does a wonderful job of expanding upon the original story and develops the characters so skilfully you feel you know them as people which makes the end of his journey all the more poignant and emotional. The actors in the film do a first class job, it is the first film in a while that has made me cry.
The movie adds new characters, surroundings, circumstances and adventures. It also gives Benjamin a strong likeable personality. None of the additions damage the original story in any way, they are all significant improvements upon it. This movie is what the book should have been.
A stereo typical response on my part would be to say the old cliché still spouted by reviewers the world over “It wasn't as good as the book” this cannot be further than the truth. The book pales in comparison.
Of course it would would not be fair to take away all the credit from Fitzgerald. He created the characters and the basis for the story. For that I am thankful however although it can be said that Fitzgerald created the story I believe it can be said that the movie perfected it.
My verdict for the movie is 5/5