Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Thoughts on "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

Don't read this post if you don't want the plot for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" spoiled for you.

YS and I went out tonight because the two of us don't get to hang out together as often as we'd like. I met her at her house this afternoon so we could decide what to do. We decided to go to dinner and then go see, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

YS and I went to eat at a Chinese buffet that also serves sushi. I gave J a sushi kit for Christmas and he made some the other day. I saw the pictures of it and got a hankering for some sushi, so YS and I went to a place that has it.

The movie, though, is what I want to talk about.

The story begins in the early 1900s and is about a man who is born an old, old man who ages backwards. Sure, he comes out all small like a baby, but he has cataracts, arthritis, and a host of other "old people" maladies, but he looks old, even. His mother dies shortly after giving birth, and his father is so upset by his new son's appearance and her death that he takes the baby with the intention of throwing it into Lake Ponchartrain. Thankfully, a police officer hears the babies cries and the father runs off and puts the baby, with a little bit of money, on the steps outside of a nursing home. A black woman who works there takes him in, because she can't have her own children. She says that her sister had the baby, and didn't want him because he was white. So, she took him in. He fit in well his early years because as he grew up, he looked like a very old man. He was confined to a wheelchair and had glasses and the like. However, he acted like a little boy. He was innocent and didn't know about life and the like. He even made friends with a granddaughter of one of the patients at the nursing home.

As he continued to get older, his appearance continued to get younger. And he realized what was happening. In so realizing, he found out that as he got younger, those around him got older. He had to experience the death of people close to him who lived in the nursing home. "Normal" little children don't have to deal with this grief because most kids do not look to be in their 80s and they don't live in nursing homes. He learned at a young age what grief is.

When he looked 70 something, he began working on a tugboat. He wrote to his little friend from the many ports in which he found himself. Eventually, he met a woman and had an affair with her. It didn't last long, but he had fallen in love. When she left, he was sad, but was able to get on with his life.

Benjamin eventually went back home and met up with his friend again. Her name was Daisy and she had grown to be a woman. However, he still looked 60 and she was in her twenties. The time was not right.

Life continued on for Benjamin. His appearance grew younger and his body grew stronger all the time. Finally, when he was 49, Daisy was 43 and the time was right. They fell in love and had a child of their own. They had met in the middle of their lives to make a new one. But Benjamin knew that he would continue to regress, and so told Daisy to find a real father for their little girl. After all, she "couldn't raise the both of them." So, he left one night, after having sold the things that had the most monetary value in his life. He left the money with Daisy and their little girl.

Time progressed. Life went on. Daisy didn't hear from Benjamin. Until one day, she got a call to have her come back to the nursing home where they had met. Child Protective Services had found the VERY young Benjamin wandering around. He appeared to have dementia. It was an odd thing, seeing this young boy exhibit those symptoms; very disconcerting. But, Daisy visited him every day. She calmed him when he was agitated, held him when he was sad, and was present with him, even in his confusion. And, in one of the last scenes, you see a very old looking Daisy holding the infant Benjamin Button and she says, "He looked up at me with a look that told me he knew who I was, and then closed his eyes as if to sleep." Benjamin died, a very old man who looked very young.

The thing that struck me most about the movie is that it made me think more about how we lose people in different ways. Sometimes we grow apart simply because our interests change and the common bond isn't there anymore. Sometimes that horrible thief, dementia comes and robs our loved one of any memory of us. Sometimes, a person recognizes that their presence will soon become unhealthy and so leaves. And the interesting thing, at least to me, is that often, one person does not wish to give the other one up. It simply happens, adding all the more to the grief. What love Daisy showed in caring for Benjamin, even until the end. She had loved this man intimately, and now held him as if she were his mother. How sad, and yet how reminiscent of what that vile culprit, dementia does. It takes the one we have known and reverts them so they no longer know us, and in some ways, we no longer know them.

But love is always there. Even when Benjamin did not know much about even who he was, let alone those around him, Daisy loved him. Their face to face relationship ended in the same place it started. Their lives had come full circle with HER being old and HIM being young. They had experienced many things in each of their lives, and in their lives together. They had met in the middle and shared years together, until life took them apart.

I don't really have a grand theme to tie this all together. I had many more thoughts about the movie while I was watching it, but now I am tired and need to stop blogging. I recommend the movie. I hope I didn't ruin it for anyone. Goodnight.

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