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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (The Criterion Collection) (2008)

Brad Pitt , Cate Blanchett , David Fincher  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (583 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton, Tom Everett
  • Directors: David Fincher
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: May 5, 2009
  • Run Time: 166 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (583 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001U0HBPQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,537 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The technical dazzle of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a truly astonishing thing to behold: this story of a man who ages backwards requires Brad Pitt to begin life as a tiny elderly man, then blossom into middle age, and finally, wisely, become young. How director David Fincher--with makeup artists, special-effects wizards, and body doubles--achieves this is one of the main sources of fascination in the early reels of the movie. The premise is loosely borrowed from an F. Scott Fitzgerald story (and bears an even stronger resemblance to Andrew Sean Greer's novel The Confessions of Max Tivoli), with young/old Benjamin growing up in New Orleans, meeting the girl of his dreams (Cate Blanchett), and sharing a few blissful years with her until their different aging agendas send them in opposite directions. The love story takes over the second half of the picture, as Eric Roth's script begins to resemble his work on Forrest Gump. This is too bad, because Benjamin's early life is a wonderfully picaresque journey, especially a set of midnight liaisons with a Russian lady (Tilda Swinton) in an atmospheric hotel. Fincher observes all this with an entomologist's eye, cool and exacting, which keeps the material from getting all gooey. Still, the Hurricane Katrina framing story feels put-on, and the movie lets Benjamin slide offscreen during its later stages--curious indeed.--Robert Horton

Also on the disc
Criterion offers a two-disc presentation of the 2008 Oscar-winner, stamped as "Director Approved." Hard to miss that, since David Fincher is all over the extras on this one: he provides a talkative commentary track for the 165-minute film, which leaves little doubt about his fabled involvement in every aspect of the results you see on screen, and he figures in the documentary sections contained on the second disc. Fincher is such an assured, skillful talker that he easily justifies the otherwise standard-issue collection of behind-the-scenes material. The documentary sections can be played as one epic (three hour) making-of feature, which actually lasts longer than the film itself; they are also carved up and can be played in handy parts: the origins of the project (tons of people considered making it, including Frank Oz, Ron Howard, and Spike Jonze), the flabbergasting technical trickery involved, shooting in post-Katrina New Orleans, and anything else you can think of. Especially illuminating is the step-by-step stuff about how Brad Pitt's face was motion-captured for the purposes of morphing it onto the work of body doubles--in case you're still puzzled about how all that really worked. The usual production stills and an essay by Kent Jones fill out the package. --Robert Horton






Stills from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Click for larger image)











Product Description

'I was born under unusual circumstances.' And so begins The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards: a man, like any of us, who is unable to stop time. We follow his story, set in New Orleans, from the end of World War I in 1918 into the 21st century, following his journey that is as unusual as any man's life can be. Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett with Taraji P. Henson, Tilda Swinton, Jason Flemyng, Elias Koteas and Julia Ormond, Benjamin Button, is a grand tale of a not-so-ordinary man and the people and places he discovers along the way, the loves he finds, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
246 of 281 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous, but depressing drama. Mild Spoilers March 19, 2009
Format:DVD
The Curious Case of Benjamim Button is by no means a feel-good movie. In fact upon watching it, I felt depressed even the next day just thinking about it. People may confuse this for a love story but to me the film clearly symbolizes death. The love aspect is certainly present, though it is not the center of attention here.

Brad Pitt stars as Benjamin Button, a man who essentially ages backwards. When he is born, his own father attempts to drown him before a sudden change of heart has him leaving the swaddled and very whithered newborn upon the steps of an elderly home. There he is found by Queenie, played to motherly perfection by Taraji P. Henson. She sees past the deformity and oddity and loves him immediately.

Instead of dying, as a doctor predicted, Benjamin actually begins to age backwards. He appears as a very old man and slowly grows younger, but only in body. His mind seems to function as a typical human's mind. He learns, and dreams and experiences. This basically sets up the magnificent story and from then on, you are taken from country to country, from one decade, to another and it is just superb to witness.

The acting is fantastic all around. Brad Pitt does an outstanding job, portraying both the old Benjamin as well as his younger counterpart. Cate Blanchett as his childhood friend/love interest is also a joy to watch. She can do no wrong, she is simply stunning. For such a short part, Tilda Swinton surely makes the most of it. Her tale and part with Benjamin in Russia is just stunning. There is also the talented Julia Ormond, who has a bigger part to play in the tale than we may realise at first.

The most impressive aspect of the film is the flawless visual effects. Just flawless. You have never seen aging/deaging done like this.
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48 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Adaptation of Fitzgerald's Short Story March 24, 2009
Format:DVD
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a wonderfully staged fantasy based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's fantasy about a boy born old and aging younger instead of older. The story could obviously be off-putting and distracting, but everyone involved does such a magnificent job of telling this story that it is not hard to accept this as fact, and following the story as it shows Benjamin growing younger and falling in love with a young girl named Daisy.

Benjamin and Daisy's story and the balance of Benjamin's life impart so many valuable life lessons that it is hard to recount them all - the idea that life brings many hardships and the best we can do is doing the best we can with what we're given, making the most of every moment because life is fleeting and unpredictable, find the joy and happinessin life and hold on to it dearly, and many other lessons.

"Benjamin Button" gives Brad Pitt the chance to shine in the title role, and he makes the most of it. He is ably assisted by Cate Blanchett as Daisy, Taraji P. Henson as Benjamin's adoptive mother, Tilda Swinton as another love of Benjamin's, and many others. This film is marvelous and a hopeful fable for all of us.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Life Less Ordinary June 15, 2009
By Hikari
Format:DVD
This is, while a technically brilliant piece of filmmaking that fully exploits all the wizardry of CGI and makeup of which the filmmaker's art is now capable, strangely hollow at the center. One begins the movie expecting some profound truths about human existence to be explored, but it ends not with a big life-affirming bang, but more of a whimper, quite literally. Benjamin says though his diary at one point: "Life is defined by opportunities--even the ones we miss." And that could be a sum-up of this film project as a whole, as well as the life of the bizarre hero at its center. One gets the sense of promise grasped for here but not quite realized as the technical and stylistic gymnastics of this movie overwhelm the fragile love story that should be its beating heart.

The film opens with Mr. Gateau (Cake) constructing a magical clock that runs backwards and mounting it in a train station in New Orleans in honor of his son, dead in the Great War. No mention is made again of Mr. Gateau or whether his clock was successful in rewinding time to bring dead boys back to life. It does have a curious effect on the life of one boy, though, as Benjamin enters the world essentially running backwards. As other reviewers have pointed out, it's quizzical that the clock has this metaphysical effect on only Benjamin among all the other children born afterwards, but then, fantasy is not required to operate by the rules of logic. Perhaps Benjamin, with a Gullah mother was particularly susceptible to magic, and how serendipitous that old-man baby Benjamin's grieving father abandoned him, along with $18 on the steps of an old-folks home, rather than say, a brothel . . .this being New Orleans, after all.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Visually, this is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Every period in the film, from the roaring '20s of Benjamin's earliest years, to the 1960s when he lived briefly with the girl of his dreams, are captured almost perfectly onscreen. The cinematography is practically flawless. The film is so wonderfully atmospheric it's almost worth watching for that alone. The special effects are remarkable as well. At different points in the film, both Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt are made to look roughly twenty years younger than their actual ages. This is relatively new in film. It's been possible since the medium began to age actors with makeup, but now it's also possible to de-age them through the magic of CGI. So where it would once have only been possible to make this film using very young actors to play the leads, and use make up to age them into their 40s and 50s and beyond, they can now cast established stars in their 40s and still have them convincingly play characters just out of their teens. The technical wizardry behind this is amazing, and it's yet another example of the magic of the movies.

So on technical merits alone I'd give the film 5 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately, the story does not quite live up to that high standard. It's not bad, to be sure; I did enjoy the movie, but I couldn't help wonder, at the end of it all, what the point was. As the reviewer for the Sunday Times aptly put it: "It's a gimmick that goes on for nearly three hours." Now I don't think every story has to have a moral, or a great message, or all kinds of weighty allusions and themes, and so forth. But simple, escapist entertainment just works better as a comedy or an action piece. A moody, character-driven drama, one can't help but feel, ought to have a little more to say.
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