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My friend recommended me the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – and I complied. The movie has got so much hype and critical acclaim; I really was excited to watch it. The plot of character aging in reverse had aroused my curiosity a lot already. And thankfully movie lived up to the promise. Although I will not put it in a once-in-a-lifetime category, but surely it is an interesting movie to watch.

Benjamin Button (played by Brad Pitt) is born as an old man in eighties and grows younger with time. He is born with all the ailments of old age like cataract, arthritis and wrinkles; and as he grows up, he becomes younger and fitter, and finally dies as a baby. He is generally a misfit wherever he goes, except for the brief period in 40s when he looks actually as his age. Make-up artists and special effect technicians have done a tremendous job of pulling this off marvelously; and I feel that actually sets this movie apart from everything else.

Although every body part of Benjamin ages in reverse, his brain remains an exception. As a kid (who looks like an 80 year old grandpa) he is shown being curious about learning new things; and he suffers from old-age brain ailments like dementia as he grows old (and looks younger as a baby). Does not make sense technically, but then, it is ok. I take it as a fiction. But I feel it would have been great had his brain also aged in reverse direction. He is anyways a miracle child; so we could have as well brought him to life with all the memories of his life interspersed in his mind, which he connects back as dots as he ages – and forgets everything towards the end. Just like movie “Memento”; would have added another degree of complexity to the story and also some thrill. I would have loved to see more of how Benjamin handled his old age as he grew into a kid and then a baby. He is shown to have tremendous grit as people laugh at him being a child with old man’s body. It would have been wonderful to see how he faced the sympathetic eyes of people as he grew into an old man with a body of teenager, then a kid and then a baby. Putting him under dementia simply made it end abruptly.

Nevertheless, movie still is a great piece of art. Story has been weaved beautifully by the intermittent narration of diary of curious Benjamin and flashback memories of his lady-love, who is on deathbed. A few moments really sweeps you off your feet. One gets overwhelmed by the realization of futility of losing young lives in brutal and meaningless wars – when a blind man saddened by loss of his only son in war makes a clock which runs backwards in the hope that as time runs backwards, someday his son will also return and live a full life. One gets overwhelmed by the divinity of holy promise – when Benjamin takes his ailing real father on his shoulders to a witness the majestic and mystic sunrise, and washes himself off of his anger for the father who left him thinking he is a curse and also relieves the father from the deadly guilt of abandoning him. One gets overwhelmed by the interest one can have in a hopeless mundane life – when a dying old fellow narrates 4 out of 7 different ways in which he was struck by lightning and still survived because he felt God keeps reminding him that he is lucky to be alive. One gets overwhelmed by irony and pity of life – when Benjamin leaves his young daughter to save her from the embarrassment of having a father who would look more like a playmate, and his wife helplessly watches him go because she does not know what else to do. Movie has several such wonderful moments which leave you soaked in emotions, and makes you love the curious case of Benjamin Button.

The movie leaves you with one simple message – “Nothing Lasts”. However good or bad it may be, however deeply you may love or hate it, nothing stays on forever. Whether you grow old or you grow young, life will have its own share of sorrows and pleasures. Life is not about growing older or younger, but it is about growing wiser. Life is not about aging into a frail wrinkled man or charming young baby-face, but it is about aging into a beautiful heart. Benjamin Button’s case was curious not because of the reverse aging, but because of the dignity and sincerity with which he lived it; ¬†and told the world that – in false hopes one may build clocks which runs backwards, but the truth is that time does not stop or come back for anyone. One needs to be at peace with it, and live on.

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