David Fincher's Potential Masterpiece - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
by Alex Billington
May 23, 2008
If you've seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in theaters this weekend, then I'm certain you've seen the first trailer for David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. You might remember seeing a rather weird trailer with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and no dialogue but with beautifully melancholic music - that was the Benjamin Button trailer. Remarkably it's not online yet, so I can't exactly show it to everyone, but I can say that is absolutely phenomenal. I was not expecting it when I went in to midnight showing of Crystal Skull a few nights ago, but I was astounded at what I saw. I've got to start talking about this now, I can't constrain myself, because this trailer looked downright amazing, so much so, that I'm already claiming this is next year's Best Picture.
For those of you who were utterly confused, let me explain the story. Adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story of the same name, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences. At the beginning of his life he is withered and worn, but as he continues to grow younger he embraces life - he goes to war, runs a business, falls in love, has children, goes to college and prep school, and, as his mind begins to devolve, he attends kindergarten and eventually returns to the care of his nurse. Pitt plays Benjamin Button throughout most of the story, although other actors embody the character during various stages of his life.
At my local theater nearby, I've gone in and watched this trailer four times just to bask in its brilliance. Not only is David Fincher, of Fight Club and Zodiac, directing, but the script was penned by Oscar winner Eric Roth, who also wrote the screenplays for Forrest Gump, The Horse Whisperer, and Spielberg's Munich. Fincher is known for his brilliant production design, wonderful cinematography, and great visual sense, and here in this trailer it definitely shows. With a rumored budget of around $150 million for Benjamin Button, I'm expecting an even more epic and incredible film than anything Fincher has ever done. I wouldn't be hard-pressed to call it potentially a masterpiece.
The music in the trailer is really what makes it extraordinary. It's one of the most emotional, thrilling, and tragic trailers I've seen that encapsulates the entire story in itself. I even heard the people next to me realize that "oh, he's aging backwards" partially through - which means it achieved its goal of explaining the story without any need for dialogue. While the visual style isn't necessarily as unique as Fight Club, this looked beautiful anyway and the make up work on Benjamin Button throughout various stages of his life (e.g. looking old and wrinkly while technically being born only a few years prior) will also be a shoo-in for that Oscar. I really hate to jump to conclusions, especially based off of a two minute trailer, but I haven't been this affected since I saw the trailer for Zack Snyder's 300 back in at Comic-Con in 2006.
Back on January 1st, I posted an article discussing some very early buzz that had originated from a costume designer who worked on Benjamin Button. She had said that "the script was top-notch — the only script she can recall making her cry," which nearly happened to me in the trailer alone, and that this was easily going to be "one of the highlights of her career." If that's not enough, this last little bit was what got me excited the most. "Furthermore, she mentioned that some of the sequences they saw that had been edited were absolutely stunning. Her description of the mood of those who worked on it is that of bated breath — a near universal belief that they have made an outstanding and moving film, one that transcends and one they wish not to jinx by too much loose talk."
However, not until I saw the trailer, did I actually acknowledge that everything they had said was true. And now that I've seen it, everything that the costume designer mentions seems legitimate and completely accurate - which makes me believe I am not making an outrageous statement when I say that this already seems like Best Picture material. We'll be damn sure to bring you this fine trailer the moment it hits the web, but until then, we'll all have to discuss this based off of memory. Was anyone else as moved by the trailer for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as I was?