The Curious Case of Craptastic Hollywood

f scott fizgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald being gorgeous in the sun.

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….

Cover of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Bu...

Cover via Amazon

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!

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14 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Craptastic Hollywood

  1. Diane @ Me, Him And The Cats

    I never saw Benjamin Button, or read the book. I usually find that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie, because you can imagine what everything looks, feels and smells like in your own mind. When it becomes a movie, you are forced into seeing it how someone else perceives it.

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  2. Hemal

    Aww…Angie, yep that is something when they change the story quite a bit…when you’re expecting one thing and it turns out to be something very different. I haven’t seen the movie yet…I didn’t find myself drawn to it (so far)…but when I read you describing the original story, it sounds lovely!

    Having “loose adaptation” mentioned up-front would have been a good thing as there would have been others like you who had read the book who would have very different expectations of the movie.
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Exactly, Hernal. Someone out there must have seen me cussing and screaming about how absolutely horrified I was that they had the nerve to call this an adaption of the story, when it should have been called an extremely loose adaption. And I let my voice be heard everywhere online and elsewhere. I watched the internet for days, waiting for any posts about it so I could comment about how mad I was (and still am lol), and that calling it an adaption was a lie.
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      They slaughtered the story completely. :( To be fair, if it was not LOOSELY based on Fitzgerald’s work (I worship the gin-soaked ground he walked on), and was an original story put out by the Hollyweirdos, I would have found it compelling. Extremely depressing, but compelling.

      Claudio Miranda, the cinematographer, did a wonderful job of making it visually stunning.

      However, I take F. Scott Fitzgerald very seriously, and I want people to respect his work and not rewrite what was already perfect.
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  3. Christine Mann

    I just love your passion on this topic and I do get it! It’s so personal when Hollywood messes with something you’ve loved for years. I can think of only three times when I’ve liked the movie better than the book: (1) The Godfather, (2) To Kill a Mockingbird (but it’s been a LONG time since I read that book) and (3) The Thorn Birds (now that was a boring book!) Confession: I used to love GWTW (movie) until my husband turned it into a comedy – we were all settled in for a long rainy afternoon with GWTW and somewhere along the way, he started laughing. I was appalled! He just thought the acting was so overly dramatic that it actually made him laugh. How did I stay married to this man??!!! Well, he’s has seriously tramped over so many Civil War battlefields, so that compensates! But his laughter forced me to go back and reread GWTW and it wasn’t boring to me. (But you can’t read it without superimposing the movies images.)

    Great topic – thanks!
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      I actually tore through my house looking for my little battered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird several weeks ago when I saw Harper Lee on American Masters. lol I like the movie and the book equally in that case. Well, maybe I like the movie a wee bit better because Gregory Peck was gorgeous and I like looking at him lol.

      And your comment totally makes me want to give GWTW (the book) a second chance. I mean, I AM the girl who read War and Peace. Twice. All the way through both times. :D
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      I didn’t like it for the fact that I expected it to be something (even just a wee bit) like the story F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote. If I hadn’t already read the story and knew it backward and forward, then I MIGHT think it was pretty good.

      And agreed about seeing the film and then discovering the book.
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