Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughts on Patterns and Benjamin Button's Life in Retrograde

During the week immediately post-Christmas running up to New Year there's always a flurry of new movies released just in time to provide talking points at New Year parties. This year we had "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (re-make), "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", "Valkyrie", "Doubt", and a few others.

During the same week snooping reporters will pursue whomever they see as the best prey on their Holiday vacation. This year P/e Obama was trailed to Hawaii, photographed a) shirtless, b) with baseball cap on back to front, c) licking some kind of iced treat.

Another yearly phenomenon, of course, is the emergence of a selection of predictions for the coming year from astrologers, psychics, financial experts, media hacks, and (it sometimes seems like) nextdoor's dog!

All these recurring events can be alternately entertaining and irritating - but one thing the week's pattern underlines, year on year, is that we humans do live largely by habit. Starting from the days when we begged to hear the same bed time story over and over again, the patterns continue to the days we bemoan having to eat yet another turkey dinner at Thanksgiving, and undergo another round of present-buying for Yuletide/Christmas/Hanukkah (etc.)

As below, so above, to reverse a well-worn astrologer's epithet. Sun, Moon, and planets exist in patterned motion also, albeit at very different rates. Motion is always in the same general direction, in spite of retrograde periods, which only seem to represent backward motion to human observers. Motion, above, is actually more akin to a helix, always moving in circular or eliptical cycles while not following exactly the same ground each time.

Which brings me back to "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - we saw this film a few days ago. It certainly has a curious plot-line, taken from a short story of F.Scott Fitzgerald from the 1920s. I haven't read the story, but understand that the only similarity between it and the movie is the basic premise. A man lives his life backwards, starting in old age, heading towards babyhood.

We enjoyed the movie, though the husband declared it a wee bit depressing. There was a veil of sadness around it for sure, but looking deeper there was also a valuable message, or maybe two, to be gleaned. I shall say no more than that for fear of spoiling the story for anyone else.

Brad Pitt plays the leading character, with Cate Blanchett as love interest. Makeup and special effects are excellent, acting is average to good - not great. The movie is 2 hours 48 mins long. I think it should have either been 12 minutes longer or thirty minutes shorter. There are parts which needed and would benefit from more explanation, and parts which seemed repetitive.

Astrologically, Benjamin Button was living his life from Pisces to Aries, rather than the other way around. I cannot get my head around what his natal chart would have looked like.

Some reviewers saw similarities to "Forest Gump" in the Benjamin movie. These could no doubt be found if one were to go over the screenplay with a finetooth comb. I saw in it more similarity to another story, not yet mentioned as far as I have noticed, to a novel called "The Time Traveller's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger, also in production as a movie by the way. While there's no time travel involved in Benjamin Button's life story, there are similar encounters with the vagaries of time.

At the very least, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is thought provoking, and it's likely that different age groups of thoughtful viewers will extract different messages from it.


anthonynorth said...

Patterns always seem to fit, which is why the film's premise is so wrong to what we know - cause and effect and all that.
Even Obama's picture seems to fit cultural patterns, now that Daniel Craig's Bond has risen from the sea instead of Honey :-)

R Phoenix said...


Thanks for dropping into the void for few minutes and posting on the site.

I hadn't thought of it before, but isn't Button's life something like Capricorn, in that he gets younger as he gets older? Wouldn't this also correspond to the whole concept of the transformation of time that I have been harping on about?

Just a thought.


Twilight said...

AN ~~~ Yes - I remarked elsewhere on how that pic of Obama brought to mind Honey Ryder (aka Ursula Andress). Along with Venus Rising from the Waves, too, a pattern has formed - in our minds. Our minds recognise and look for patterns I suppose, because the whole of the universe is really one big pattern (I think!) :-)

Twilight said...

Robert ~~ You're right! Actually I hadn't planned to post the Ben. Button item today, I had it tagged for tomorrow, but after doing "the void" thing I decided to swap it with the New Year's Eve type post I'd planned to use today. I didn't consciously think about what you've commented on, but subconsciously perhaps I realised it.

Rossa said...

I'm really looking forward to the movie of The Time Traveller's Wife. One of my favourite books. I hope they can do it justice as it's not going to be easy for some people to follow. As usual you will get to see it before us poor relations in the UK.

Happy New Year and thanks for some really interesting and provocative posts (in the sense of giving me something to think about). Looking forward already to whatever juicy tidbits you offer up next year.

Foggy and freezing (well only -2C) West Yorkshire, signing off for 2008.


Twilight said...

Rossa ~~~ Thank you, and my own good wishes for 2009 to you and yours! :-)

I couldn't finish "Time Traveller's Wife", read a little, then the husband read some more aloud to me, at the time he read it himself, but I still got very confused. However, when the general plot was explained, I got a clear picture of what had been going on!

I think it'll take very clever movie-making to get the story reasonably clear, but then again, it could become much easier to understand with visual help than it was just from the written version.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm really keen to see this movie, T when I have the feast of Toronto movies at my feet very soon!!

Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh!
(Happy new year in Irish)

To you and Himself!

And many more!!!



Twilight said...

Likewise to you and yours, WWW!

I think you'll enjoy the movie. :-)

coffee fiend said...

Benjamin Button was very Fincher-esque... almost as good as his other stuff if not for some nagging plot holes

Twilight said...

Hi coffee fiend ~~ I'm not too familiar with David Fincher's other work. Saw Alien long ago, and Se7en too. He certainly goes for the unusual!

Yes, Ben. Button needs to be watched with a less than analytical eye, it's really a fairytale. :-)