Beth and I went to the movies last evening. There are a lot of them out there that we would like to see as Oscar night approaches. Why did we choose this one? My daughter saw it and wrote a few glowing words about it.
Also some of my favorite movies mess with time in ways that drive critics crazy. Somewhere In Time was a favorite long ago when Christopher Reeve was with us. It was a magical movie with a wonderful score. Now both he and his beloved wife are gone far too early in life. Life imitating art?
And then there was Groundhog Day. I left the theater that day in a trance. What a movie! Here is the formula: mess around with time and add a romantic relationship.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Critical reviews are all over the map. Roger Ebert didn’t like it apparently because life is not like this. It goes in one direction and backing it up is just stupid.
Maybe. But I don’t care. Time goes really fast sometimes. And when I was in college and worked Friday nights on a General Motors assembly line it went really, really slow. I wanted to kill myself sometimes before it was time for lunch. It never really started to back up but it almost did!
The romantic relationship in this movie starts when Benjamin is still very old and his sweetheart is just a child. But eventually he turns into Brad Pitt Adonis and is riding around on a motorcycle looking better than James Dean and Marlon Brando all mixed up together. Or at least that is what Beth tells me. Daisy Fuller, his love interest, has grown into a beautiful young woman and they sail together out to sea. The photography is very well done and we spend a few moments thinking about our own brief moments of of love and glory.
Because they are short are they not? Time is busy messing around with us every waking moment. Here I sit with my aging sacroiliac and sagging muscles while dreams of being Brad Pitt have turned into nightmares about turning into Richard Simmons.
It’s all about dreams isn’t it? We go to the movies to dream. We dream every night. We have day dreams and forget to do our homework. Then we die and dream forever. Or maybe we wake up. I’m not sure what happens but it can’t be worse than working on a GM assembly line in college on Friday night while your girlfriend is probably out with some other dude.
All too soon Benjamin and his flower, Daisy, get down to raising a family and things start to go south. But not to Key West this time. He has visions of meeting and passing his daughter at about age ten or fifteen (it’s difficult to get an exact fix on this). So he leaves! He goes to India where they understand about these things. Because my feeling is that reincarnation is a fact of life and that’s why films that mess around with time hit home if they are well done.
Daisy ends up holding baby Brad in her arms. She is his mother. She is his lover. He is her grandfather. We pass through all these arrangements in this film.
As I sit next to my beloved and remember the day several years ago I recalled our previous life together.
Back in the beginning of the twentieth century when I was a boy and near death. She was my mother and her life would not last many more years. She was also a painter and there is a rather dark painting of a tree in Beth’s mother’s living room.
I recognize it from long ago. Art is an important part of our true lives.
And time is just the vehicle that takes us there.
For my beloved. . .