Today I am continuing on with what I have dubbed “F. Scotty Fitz Week” with another post focusing on the literary genius of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In addition to novels that were outright perfection, Scott also wrote many short stories that originally appeared in publications such as Esquire and the Saturday Evening Post.
One of those stories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, was first published in the May 27, 1922 edition of Colliers magazine.
The story is a fantasy about a baby who was born an old man. A grown-up old man with a white beard and yellowed teeth, who talks, smokes, drinks and scandalizes his parents. As the years progress, he becomes younger and younger, and eventually his grown children have to care for him as if he is one of their own wee brats.
Overall, it is a beautiful story about one family’s ability to cope with a unique situation. In an age where people with special needs were treated rather inhumanely, Fitzgerald found a way to make a hero out of someone who, in reality, probably would have been hidden from the public.
No Story is Safe from Hollywood….
It took more than 80 years, but eventually good ol’ Hollywood, the makers and breakers of movie stars, finally got around to putting the film on the big screen.
When it was first advertised, I jumped for joy. I would finally be able to see my favorite short story put on the big screen. I generally loathe Brad Pitt, and was a wee bit disappointed when I heard he was cast in the title role, but I didn’t care. It was Benjamin Button; it was going to be fantastic…or so I thought at the time.
It was released on Christmas Day in 2008, but I saw it a bit after. As I sat down in the theater with the refreshments I sneaked into the theater inside my big bag (don’t act like you don’t do that, too), my heart raced. I was thrilled to be there.
That didn’t last long….
Within minutes of the movie starting, I began whispering to my friends, “WTF is this? Who the hell is that?” What I saw on the big screen was nothing (and I mean NOTHING) like the story I loved more than life itself.
They had moved the setting from New York to New Orleans. They killed off Benjamin’s mother during childbirth and made his father into a horrible bastard who threw his newborn child onto a random doorstep.
The people who raised Benjamin were not in the original story, and the names of characters who appeared in the original story had been changed.
Worst of all, unlike Fitzgerald’s story, this pathetic adaption was terribly depressing. It made me want to leave the theater and slit my wrists.
There was no hope. No humorous interactions with Benjamin and his father. No anything that resembled the story other than the fact that Benjamin Button aged backwards.
I should have known better than to trust Hollywood with anything written by my beloved Fitzgerald. They never do his work justice on the big (or small) screen.
The original story as it was originally written would have been perfect for adaption. But no, Hollyweird had to go and screw it all up. And make me so mad that I refused to go out and see any new movies for three years.
At least now they are referring to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as a “loose adaption.” When it was first released, they didn’t bother with that. Jerks.
What are your thoughts on the film? Did you love it or hate it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
And if you are unfamiliar with the original short story, you can read it online for free!