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THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

About The Production
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” began its life as a short story written in the 1920s by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who, in turn, drew his own inspiration from a quote by Mark Twain: "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18.”

Fitzgerald's story was a caprice, a find of fancy, and bringing it to life on the screen was long perceived as too ambitious, too fantastical to accomplish. The project floated around for 40-some odd years until producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall took it up. For over a decade, the project has likewise intrigued Eric Roth, David Fincher and Brad Pitt.

For Roth, the concept became an opportunity to introspectively view the broad canvas of a life through the synthesis of intimate moments experienced every day, through events that may be as large as a world war or as small as a kiss. "Eric was the ideal person to fully realize the potential of such a large-scale but deeply personal story,” Kennedy notes. "In ‘Forrest Gump,' he revealed intimate portraits against the backdrop of epic stories, and a gift for richly observed detail.”

The chance to live life backwards would seem ideal. "But it's not that simple,” says Roth. "On the surface, you think it would be just lovely, but it is a different kind of life, which I think is so compelling about this story. Even though Benjamin is going backwards, the first kiss and the first love are still as significant and meaningful to him. It doesn't make any difference whether you live your life backwards or forwards – it's how you live your life.”

While conceiving and writing the screenplay, Roth experienced the personal loss of both of his parents. "Their deaths were obviously very painful for me, and gave me a different perspective on things,” he notes. "I think people will respond to the same things in this story that I responded to.”

The movie explores the human condition that exists outside of time and age – the joys of life and love and the sadness of loss. "David and I both wanted it to feel as if this was anybody's story,” Roth says. "It's just a man's life – that's what's sort of extraordinary about the movie and very ordinary at the same time. What affects this odd character affects everyone.”

While Benjamin's predicament is entirely peculiar, his journey highlights the complex emotions at the core of every life. "It touches on questions we ask ourselves over the course of a lifetime,” says Marshall. "And it's rare that one movie will elicit so many different, personal points of view. Someone in their 60s or 70s will look at the movie one way, while someone who's 20 is going to see it another way.”

Producer Céan Chaffin recalls that the project had long been circling around Fincher, away from him and back. An earlier version of the screenplay sat on his desk when Chaffin started working with him in 1992. "It was something he loved and kept bringing up over the years,” she says. "I remember, too, when Brad asked him about it, and David said, ‘That could be a great movie.' Scripts come and go, but this script never left. He says things go away for the right reasons and you can't have regrets. This one must have had the right reasons to stay.”

Fincher's own experience of loss infused his fascination with the story. "My father died five years ago, and I remember the experience of being there when he breathed his last breath,” he reflects. "It was an incredibly profound one. When you lose someone who helped form you in a lot of ways, who is your ‘true north,' you lose the barometer of your life. You're no longer trying to please someone, or you're no longer reacting against something. In many ways, you're truly alone.”

Early in the film's preparations, Fincher's meetings with Kennedy and<

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