This is my final one. 🙂
Being an old person itself comes with many problems, Dementia, Arthritis and other problems that come as baggage as you age. Being elderly means you have to watch loved ones slowly pass away around you, people with whom you may have lived your life. People you may have grown old with. These weren’t problems Benjamin Button faced when he was an old man. He had another problem, some may argue Benjamin had a bigger problem. Benjamin Button aged backwards. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald which was later made into a film directed by David Fincher. The story is about a boy who was born into an old man’s body. We see Benjamin (the main character) become younger on the outside all whilst growing older on the inside. As you can imagine Benjamin faces many challenges throughout his lifetime, a lot of his challenges were different from the ‘normal person’, much like how his life was different from those around him. One of the main challenges Benjamin faced in his lifetime was the inevitability of time. The concept of the inevitability of time is revealed through cinematography techniques for example Sound, Voice over narration, Symbols and montage. I will be elaborating more on how these 4 techniques helped convey the message of the inevitability of time in the last scene of the film which I will be focusing on. The last scene consists of Daisy moving into the rest home, to help care for Benjamin as he goes through the last years of his life. From a 5-year-old to a newborn. During this time Daisy read to him, helped him walk when he lost the ability to, as well as watching him start to not be able to talk. She was with him when he passed away. This is the scene I will be focusing on to explain how the cinematography techniques show the inevitability of time.
Time flies. This a common phrase that is used to express emotion about the constant passing of time. An emotion which may be happy, glad, thankful for the fact that time is moving on, or in other cases it may reflect being distressed, sad or concerned that a moment has passed. A moment which can never truly be relived. The beginning of the last scene in the Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a montage. A montage also reflects time flying by. It shows snippets of time. In the last scene, it showed the monumental moments from the last 5 years of Benjamin’s life. It begins with Benjamin at 5, playing with a clock just as Daisy moves into the rest home. The alarm clock which Benjamin was holding on to was used to make the audience aware of Benjamins little time left. It was also a sign for both Benjamin and Dasiy because both of their lives had reached the point where they were both closing their books of doing wild, adventurous and exciting things and they were opening a new one which involved simply winding down to get through the last years of the lives. Daisy also took over the role of caring for Benjamin, whereas at the beginning of the film this was more Benjamins role, an old man looking out for a young innocent 7-year-old girl. This was a main theme for the montage, Both of them losing the ability to do things, although they were losing different things to each other, time was catching up on both of them, as it always does. Throughout life no matter what way one lives it, there are certain milestones which everyone goes through, a milestone that we could face as a two-year-old or a 75-year-old. Milestones make us aware of time. While the montage shows Daisy starting to care for Benjamin, it also shows Daisy having to narrate the final years of his life for him. We hear this through the voice of narration (Omniestant). While we see the last years of his life via montage, we hear Daisy narrate his life from going from a 5-year-old to a baby. Through the whole movie its Benjamin narrating for us but as his life is in reverse, and he is aging backwards, getting younger and younger, Benjamin loses the ability to narrate himself, leaving Daisy to have to finish it for him. So this also proves the theme of Inevitability of time as time no longer allows him to finish his own story off, much like how time didn’t allow him and Daisy’s relationship to last. The impact that both montage and voice-over have on the final scene, was that both techniques showed time catching up on Benjamin and how he was losing things he had been able to do his whole life and how Daisy had to take care of him. They conveyed the message of the inevitability of time.
Clocks are a representation of time passing. The ticking of a clock is a representation of time. These both feature in the last scene of ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’. The ticking of a clock more often than not makes people anxious, it reminds people times running out and that time is limited, Benjamin too was reminded of this. Benjamin also feared this, he was anxious about the constant reminder that time was running out. As a young confused 5 year when Daisy moved into the rest home, Benjamin was playing with an alarm clock. The alarm clock was ringing, alarming us that Benjamins time had run out. It signalled that Benjamin was entering the final stage of his life. He was almost just as he was when he was born, Being born as an old man. Life in a way is a cycle, as you get older you face similar problems as to what you faced as a child. This was true for Benjamin except Benjamin was going from being old to becoming younger. Daisy was facing different problems to what Benjamin was going through, whilst the problems were different to Benjamins, the underlying problem they both had was the same, that they had lived an eventful life but both of their lives were coming to an end. Time for them both was running out. As well as clocks ticking throughout the scene, clocks themselves make a common appearance. Clocks represent life and death, we see clocks when we need to be reminded that time is continuous. Clocks represent the way Benjamin lives his life backwards. The main point when the clock was featured in the scene was when the train station replaced the clock that was set up to turn backwards. They replaced it with a new digital clock that ran normally, forwards. The old clock symbolises Benjamin and the new digital clock represents the end of Benjamin’s life. The old clock was similar to Benjamin, it was a normal clock, it looked no different but the way it runs was different, much like Benjamin. But when the new digital clock was put up it was another sign that Benjamin’s life was coming to an end. And also when the clock was put away in storage it represented people forgetting about those who had lived before them and people moving on. Benjamin, once he was gone would be forgotten, as time moved on without him.
Director David Fincher includes techniques such as montage, voice-over narration, sound and symbols to engages the audience and gets across his message and theme. The theme in which the director was trying to portray is the inevitability of time. A lot of elements were added to enhance this message, and we interpret this via symbols, sound, voice-over narration and montage. The four cinematography techniques (which were mentioned above) highlighted Benjamin’s limited amount of time. Despite Benjamins time being limited from the very beginning, it didn’t stop Benjamin from living a full life. David Fincher included this in the film in hopes of making the audience feel inspired by Benjamin, and to go and make the most of their life, living it to the very fullest and never take it for granted. The last scene leaves the audience with many emotions. However, whatever emotion the audience may feel it is important for them to understand that the end was inevitable. Benjamin’s death could not be changed, prolonged or even stopped by anyone. Benjamin’s life had run its course.
Humans are naturally fascinated by the unknown, but yet in some cases, humans fear the unknown. Benjamin was the unknown. He experienced things throughout his life which were somewhat similar to others, but his sequence of life was abnormal. By having a life which was a far cry from those he was ‘growing old’ with, his story was compelling, engaging and intriguing. Although his story was diverse, he dealt with something that affects the majority of people. Life lacks time, there is an inevitability of time. Benjamin was affected by this greatly. His time was unfairly limited with Daisy, the love of his, He never experienced things at the same time as his peers. He never experienced things the same. Benjamin Buttons life was different. The director communicates this idea through the four cinematography techniques voice-over narration, montage, sound and symbols. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a film which included a lot of emotion, thought and ideas.
“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends, and living our lives.” -Maya Angelou