29th August 2018

Nature of Life

In David Fincher’s film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, the nature of life plays a huge role as a main theme throughout the movie. The way of Benjamin’s life is an unusual concept and it is so abnormal yet so alike to everyone else at the same time. The nature of life is conveyed to viewers in many ways throughout the film including props, montage dialogue and lighting. It is shown when Benjamin experiences points in his life like everyone else but in his curious case where it’s reversed.

Montage was a very effective film technique to show the nature of Benjamin’s life, it makes it easy to single out individual milestones of his life and show them in a snippet each. This was used in the final scene and it showed him getting younger and experiencing all of the things a young kid would, but in reverse. The montage helps to show how Benjamins life is so similar to everyone elses and the only difference is that he is forgetting not learning. This is shown in the scene where there are multiple clips of Benjamin, in each one he is younger than he was before and is experiencing a different part of life. At the start of the montage he is sitting on the bed, in his younger years about 5 or 6, he is playing with an alarm clock making it buzz and stop and buzz and stop. This section of the montage is expressing how his behaviour and mannerisms are becoming more childish and he is also beginning to enter the stage where most kids would be learning how things work, for Benjamin, he already knew but now he has forgotten. Later in the montage is a piece where he forgets how to walk and is now even younger, Daisy is with him this whole time and acting as a motherly figure trying to teach him again. Another part after that is where he forgets how to talk and then a final clip where Benjamin passes on in Daisy’s arms, he not exactly “dying” as it could be portrayed as, but it is more like he just ceases to exist, this part is essentially the opposite of a baby being born but including the fact that he is at the age of an old man so it got to a point where he looked so physically young so he was at the starting point of a baby, but in reality he is so old that he is at the ending point of a old man. Learning to walk and talk are very important times for a baby, and over all coming into the world for a start is most important, the montage was used to single these and other similar things out and to show a span of Benjamins life in a shorter time easier to keep track of everything but yet more in depth and understandable.

Dialogue shows overall themes and messages in the film very descriptively, it expresses how the characters are feeling, what they’re thinking and shows thing about them you might not have otherwise realised. Because Benjamin was getting younger and forgetting how to talk in this particular scene, there wasn’t much dialogue from him apart from him narrating, most of the talking came from Daisy. A line that Daisy said that really showed the nature of Benjamins’ life was: “I’m Daisy, can you say Daisy”, this particular bit is such a simple line of speech, it doesn’t have any hidden messages or anything like that but it is just simply showing the viewers that with the nature of Benjamin’s life, he is starting to forget how to do all these essential things that kids growing up would learn, it relates him to other children and how he is going through the same process but just in reverse. Benjamin narrates certain parts throughout the whole film, at the very end after the montage of himself getting younger, after the story has finished, he narrates for one final set of clips. In this set of clips it shows a bunch of different people doing different things, and Benjamin narrates over this: “Some people were born to sit by a river, some get struck by lightning, some have an ear for music, some are artists, some swim, some know buttons, some know shakespeare, some are mothers, and some people, dance”. This line of speech delves into ‘The Nature of Life’ as a universal theme of people all around the world and how everybody is different and has different hobbies or experiences different things, it conveys the diversity of each person’s life but then shows that originally we are all the same. One distinct piece of that narration is the line “some get struck by lightning”, it sticks out from the rest of the other people, it is not a hobby or a way of life but an experience, I think this was made to stick out to show its important message as this has been a recurring theme in the movie. The message that comes with this man being struck by lightning is that sometimes there are things that happen out of the ordinary or unusual, some may even say curious cases, but in spite of these things everyone is still the same at heart and no matter how much experiences shape individuals lives, deep down we are all human. The dialogue in this scene really helped to show this theme and was important to verbalize it to viewers.

During the end scene of The Curious Case of Benjamin there is two set soundtracks playing, one is during the montage of him getting younger, the second is in the piece where Benjamin is narrating over the different people at the very end. The first soundtrack playing while he is getting younger is low tuned, sad and longing, the music is always playing in the background and it makes the viewer feel down. This was chosen to show Benjamin getting younger and nearing his end, to show that he doesn’t have much time left, given the nature of his life it may not look to outsiders that he is about to leave the world, it assists with letting it sink in to the viewers that it is a sad time and that the world can be cruel, but the next soundtrack is more of a high tone, it is played in the background behind Benjamins narrating of the different people and what their lives are about. The music lifts up the viewers to let them know that this part is happier than the last, these people all have a nature of life and something might have happened to them that was cruel, but all these people still lived their life their way and were happy, this is the nature of life, even though some things can hold you down like Benjamins case for instance, he still lived his life how he wanted it and how he should, so maybe after all his end wasn’t so cruel. The music in the last two scenes was significant as it help to set the scene and the mood of the scene that the film was wanting to emit.

Films use props to make it seem more realistic, they can bring up themes and ideas or just help to show the storyline or to describe characters. The nature of Benjamin’s life is shown by a number of props some of them being: books, toys, and the clock. There are two sets of props in the scene that show how Benjamin is getting younger and becoming like a toddler. One of the sets of props is the book that Daisy is reading to Benjamin and the toys he is playing with. This portrays Benjamins character in a way to the viewers to show how his life is starting to become more like that of a young child and he is becoming less developed. Daisy is reading the book to him on the bed trying to help him learn how to read again, it is also like a bedtime story for him. The toys are showing the same thing – that Benjamin is getting younger and more childlike. He is playing with them on the table figuring them out and stacking them how a normal kid would, he is just the same as them. The other prop is the clock, the clock is also a symbol representing the nature of Benjamins life as a whole. In this scene the clock is being taken down off the wall in the train station and replaced with a new one, this is illustrating that Benjamins time is almost up, and that there is now time for change as there will no longer be a curious case of Benjamin Button because he will be gone. At the end of the film the clock is in a basement with a cloth half draped over it, water floods in and starts to rise up, the clock is producing a sad forgotten vibe but it is still ticking backwards, so it is being remembered by Caroline when she’s reading the diary. These props backed the overall idea of the nature of life with Benjamin and his clock of life ticking backwards just like him.

My 4 techniques were montage, dialogue, music, and props. They represented the central idea of ‘The Nature of Life’ by showing Benjamin getting younger, describing his character and life as a theme, setting a overall mood/vibe for a scene, and making the idea more realistic and easier to understand. The film shows the idea of the Nature of Life with Benjamin, he is the same as any other life out there, he experiences all the same things and has all the same milestones, but just in the opposite order, he is the same but different, old but young, wise but incoherent, but despite all of that he is still just the same as everyone else.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Angus,

    It seems you have a lot to get done in our last three periods of assessment.

    Make sure you are describing the use of your technique in detail and using the correct terminology, addressing the impact that the director hoped to have with the technique and explaining how your chosen technique communicates your central idea.

    Mrs. P


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