The curious case of Benjamin Button

Imagine being born with severe arthritis, cataracts, impaired hearing and saggy and wrinkled skin, where you have the physical appearances of an 80 year old man on the verge of death. For Benjamin Button, in the film ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’ directed by David Fincher, this isn’t just a crazed idea thought up in the mind, but is in fact his reality. He is born where his body clock is ticking backwards, where as everyone else is gradually getting older, Benjamin is slowly getting younger. Growing up in an old persons home, everyone just sees him as an old man but as time passes and residents die, Benjamin gets younger and experiences what life has to offer as on the inside he is still young. He meets his “childhood” friend Daisy, who shows up through various parts of his life and as their ages align, they fall in love. This time they have together where their ages are similar is short and fragile, where as time continues to go on they are slowly pulled apart again. Time is a constant thing, where they can’t just hit the pause button to savour a moment or rewind when they wished something had never happened. As time passes, things change, people move on and the world evolves, and this inevitability of time Is evident in the curious case of Benjamin Button as lives are lost and Daisy and Benjamin fight against time as they attempt to start a life together. At the end of the movie, where Benjamin reaches his final stage of life, Daisy is put into a position where she has to care for him as he slowly reaches infancy and his life becomes a haze. In these scenes, the inevitability of time is portrayed to the viewers heavily through the use of montage and voice over narration, sound and symbols, and how they all work together to portray the idea to the viewers.

Everyone is told that time passes in the blink of an eye, where nothing lasts and that the time you have is fragile and shouldn’t be wasted. They say that even as you get older the time you have left seems to go even faster. For Benjamin the last five years of his life are seen as a blur as he forgets who he is and the life he has experienced. Through the use of montage we see Benjamin enter the final stage of his life where Daisy is put into a position of full time care of him. The small snippets we see show him going from a child of around five, all the way down to a baby. This use of montage is able to condense the last five years of his life down into key snippets that show classic signs of old age, such as losing memory, the ability to talk and the ability to walk. The montage portrays how time is constantly moving and how quickly something can change, where nothing will stay the same forever. Montage is used throughout the movie to show the passing of time and the change that occurs along with it. As Benjamin draws closer to his final days, Daisy devotes her time to looking after him and spending as much time with him as she can, as she knows the time she has will not last, as he slowly drifts further and further away from her. To enhance the use of montage, there is voice over narration of Daisy speaking, referencing to the visual images on the screen. Unlike the rest of the movie, Benjamin was always the one telling his story through voice over narration, however, with the passing of time, Benjamin has become unable to tell his story and Daisy has had to step into the role of narrating the last stage of his life. This voice over narration allows us to make connections to various parts of the movie and comprehend and process how this time they have left together is finite. At the start of the sequence Daisy exclaims “he was five when I moved in, nearly the same age I was when I had met him”. This passage of speaking starts off the montage and enables us to see how the time has passed and how their roles have reversed from the start of the movie. Daisy then goes on to say “the days passed. and I watched as he forgot how to walk, and how to talk”. Daisy was in love with Benjamin, and with her narrating his story through voice over narration, the viewers can sense the emotion in her voice and envision the situation Daisy is in where their time together becomes more scarce by every passing second. I believe the author has used montage with voice over narration over the top to convey the idea of the inevitability of time to the audience. This scene from the sequence shows the passing of time by the use of the last 5 years of Benjamins life concentrated down into very short snippets of film which give the impression that his time is nearing its end. Time is an infinite measure that is often linked to being used to sequence events like what the purpose of a montage does.

The use of symbols is very important in the curious case of Benjamin Button as all symbols carry a meaning for the audience to grasp and allow them to create a picture in their minds. The clock has forever been linked to time and the inevitability of it and is one of major symbols in the film. In general, the clock represents life and death but can also be a representation of the fact that time is a limited resource and the time you have must be used wisely. In the last extract, the clock plays a significant part as it shows up at various occasions portraying different aspects of time. When Daisy first moves in to care for Benjamin, Benjamin is sitting on the bed playing with an alarm clock when all of a sudden it starts going off and ringing. The alarm clock going off signifies Benjamin entering the last stage of his life as it tells the viewers that he is entering his final five years. About half way through the extract, the original clock in the train station is replaced with a new digital clock. throughout the movie the clock in the train station represented Benjamin as like the clock going backwards, Benjamin aged backwards. When the clock got taken down, it was as if his life was coming to its very end as the clock was no longer visual in the station. At the very end of the sequence after Benjamin has passed away, there is a section of film where the audience is shown a store room, and in the storeroom is the clock from the train station. To add to the use of the clock symbol, throughout the extract, the ticking of the clock is heard in the background to enhance the meaning behind the symbol. The ticking sound of a clock that is heard, is the physical passing of time as depicted by the face of the clock and the hands on it. The clock is ticking is a phrase used to signify that someone must do something quickly because their time or the time is running out. The ticking sound the audience hears represents how even if the clock is not in the frame, the time is still passing. Even once Benjamin has passed away the clock from the train station continues to tick backwards as even though he is no longer alive, his story is still alive and passed on through his stories he wrote and the story of his life.

 The use of cinematography techniques is what brings the story and idea of the movie together. They play a vital role in the filmmaking process and with the use of them altogether, they convey a central idea for the audience to take away from the movie. By utilising the use of montage, voice over narration, symbols and sound, the director is able to create a visual image of the central idea they are trying to convey, for the viewers to comprehend and understand. The inevitability of time is a universal concept recognised by everyone, as time is something everyone relies on and uses everyday, which makes it so important. Whether it be to celebrate a birthday, a bit or death, a need to wake up at a certain time or go to sleep at a certain time, all humans revolve around time and the idea of it. Throughout the sequence, the idea of time and the inevitability of it is heavily shown as Benjamins life nears is end. The sequence shows how time is fragile and precious, and that nothing can last as time is forever moving. I believe David Fincher is trying to get across to the audience, to make the most of the time you have and to live in the present as you cant go back to the past or skip forward to the future. Benjamin lived his life in the moment, where even though he was axing the other way to everyone else, he never let that stop him as he still managed to live a full life. At the end of the movie, the audience is left with a sadness after Benjamin passes away as sadness and grief are common connotations of death. Even though Benjamin has passed away and the audience is left with sadness, they are also left with happiness and satisfaction as Benjamin lived a happy life filled with many achievements where he made the most of the time he had.

Benjamin Button wasn’t an ordinary child, he was born where he aged the opposite way to everyone else. Even though he may have been a bit different in the way he grew up, he still grew up where things changed, people moved on and the world evolved. All these things occur as the time passes and continues forward. From the use of montage, voice over narration, symbols and sound, we can see how these techniques all assist each other to help portray the inevitability of time to the audience as well as get across the directors purpose. The inevitability of time is a key idea that affects everyone in the world because time is a concept everyone needs and depends on. Benjamin led an exciting and thrilling life filled with many experiences but the inevitability of time and the circumstances he was under restricted his time with Daisy. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button directed by David Fincher holds a powerful message that is delivered through cinematography techniques to the audience and illustrates the inevitability of time and the importance of it.

wat the introduction said by explaining 4 things and how it impacted his life importance of film as a whole 4 techniques main message how was in story

One thought on “The curious case of Benjamin Button”

  1. Emma,

    I love that I am hearing your voice in this! At times, it sounds a little too much like a speech. Just be mindful that essays should be formal and be written in the third person. At the moment, you are using a lot of first person narrative voice.

    You are repeating yourself at times. When you read this out loud to yourself, listen for phrases and sentences that sound the same or similar and look to remove or alter them.

    Develop the discussion around your central idea more. Ensure that you are analysing how the use of your technique ensure that your central idea is communicated to the audience.

    Mrs. P

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