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Benjamin Button – Short Story and Movie Compared

benjamin-button-booknew benjamin-button

Dave and I went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Christmas Day.

Thanks to Nonsuch Book, I was able to read the short story before we went to see the movie. If you don’t want to click over to her post to then click over to the story, here’s a direct link. Thank you to the University of Virginia for providing this short story online.

The only word I can think of to describe the story is campy. Benjamin Button is born as an old man, and I don’t mean an old looking baby, I mean white-beard-little-hair-on-his-head-able-to-talk-old-man. The story is more sad than anything. Even his dad is embarassed by him, making Benjamin dye his hair so he looks *more* like a child. Because Benjamin looks so old when he’s 20, he’s not allowed into college. I don’t want to give too much away because the story’s pretty dang short, but it reminded me in some ways of Metamorphisis by Franz Kafka, in that he’s never really accepted by his family, ultimately including his son.

With the story swirling around in my head, we went to see the movie.

THEY ARE NOTHING ALIKE.

They should say the movie is loosely based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, as the only similarity in the two stories was the fact that Benjamin Button was born old. NOTHING ELSE IS THE SAME. How he’s born is different, his parents are different, his wife is different, his kid is different, things he did in the book never happen, and how he grows young is different. I don’t mind that the movie is only loosely based on the story, but I wish they’d said that.

The movie was good, though a little long. The movie was more sentimental than the story. The narrator of the story (not the movie) seemed a little removed from the actual story, not allowing any sentiment to creep in. The movie showed the story in a more romantic light.

When I was complaining to Dave about the differences in the story and the movie, he said, “Well, would anyone want to see the story you’re describing?” “Absolutely not!” I said. But the fact remains that the only similarity in the stories is that Benjamin is born as an old man.

Tell me what you think! Have you read the story? Seen the movie? What do you think? Let’s talk!

25 comments »

25 Responses to “Benjamin Button – Short Story and Movie Compared”

  1. Teddy

    Thanks so much for the link to the story. I printed it off to read later. My husband I are planning to see the movie. Most likely this week.

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  2. Jena

    I’m not a Fitzgerald fan, so I’d skip the story and just go to the movie–but I’m not really planning to see that, either. thanks for letting me know what you thought, though–I was a little curious (especially as I’d never heard of the story before)!

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  3. Roxane Stoner

    I really dislike when a book is altered so much in a movie that nothing seems to resemble the original story. Mainly because the author has been disrespected. Why would movie makers feel like they need to take a book and only used it’s name? After saying that and getting over the initial chock and desapointement it is interesting to compare the book and movie and do a personal critique.

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  4. Andi

    I haven’t seen the movie, nor have I read the short story. But I will do both! I love Fitzgerald, and I probably have the story in a collection around here somewhere, but thanks for the link. So much easier! It always bugs me, too, when a movie is so far removed from the story that no resemblance remains.

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  5. lisamm

    I wonder why they didn’t say something like “loosely based on the story by F. Scott Fitzgerald” rather than presenting it as the same story. Why even use the same name? Well, I will still see the movie. I’m a Brad Pitt fan and I’m curious to see his transformation from old to young.

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  6. Lee Hoover

    Good little comparison. I saw the movie this weekend as well, I remember the short story from a long time ago. They’re definitely different. I thought the movie had its ups and downs, but it was definitely worth seeing. Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

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  7. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog

    Glad we’re discussing this! I haven’t read the story, and I think this may be the one time I prefer to see the movie first because I’ve heard that they are so vastly different. The film looks great, and I’d like to enjoy it for what it is without doing the constant comparison between the story. Not sure when we’ll get around to seeing this, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

    And I wish you’d written this yesterday because I could have printed it out and given it to 2 customers who just wouldn’t believe me when I was telling them that the book really was very different from the movie.

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  8. Vasilly

    I’ve read the story but have not seen the movie. You’re right; the story is very sad. I don’t know if I want to see the movie though.

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  9. morninglightmama

    I’m glad to have read your review here– just about an hour ago, my dear mother-in-law (whom we are staying with this week) offered to put our kids to bed one night if we wanted to go see a movie, and this is the one that I am hoping to go see. I had heard that it was based on a FSF piece, but that was all that I knew… I think if we get to see the movie, I’ll wait to read the short story until afterwards.

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  10. Kim L

    I’m going to see the movie on Tuesday, but I don’t even think I’ll read the short story. I heard they were really different, so I don’t want to like the short story too much and hate the movie or vice versa. Did you prefer one over the other?

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  11. Becky

    I’m sorry….wasn’t that the entire plot of the fourth season of Mork and Mindy? Babies are born old and then “age” into infancy? I’m just saying….

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  12. Brittanie

    I read part of the short story before we had to leave for the movie theatre. I was surprised at how different they were and some parts that were added to the movie made me made. I did not appreciate all the s*x in it. As a movie it was a little long but okay. I will probably never watch it again. 🙂

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  13. Brittanie

    Bye the way I did finish the short story when I got home. 😉

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  14. Corinne

    I didn’t read any of this – just the title 🙂 I am smack in the middle of this short story right at this moment and will see the movie soon 🙂

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  15. meg89

    I saw the movie first, and then went back and read the story, and I totally agree with your assessment. NOT THE SAME STORY. I liked the movie, although parts of it bothered me, but the story I struggled to even finish. It didn’t make sense, even on the fantasy level. Here’s my full review:

    http://literarymenagerie.blogspot.com/2008/12/curious-case-of-benjamin-button-by-f.html

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  16. bermudaonion

    I just hate when they do that to a book to make a movie, especially if I’ve read the book before seeing the movie.

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  17. rantsandreads

    I read this story a while ago, and really loved it. I think it was a very sad, but poetic piece by Fitzgerald. I didn’t really want to see this movie, and now I know to stay away from it! Thanks for the heads up.

    Brad Pitt seems to have a habit of taking on roles that are very loosely based on the actually book or story. Does anyone remember the horrific blunder of Troy?

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  18. Dreamybee

    I read a book a few years ago called The Confessions of Max Tivoli: A Novel, and I’m wondering if the movie might actually be closer to this than to Fitzgerald’s work. From the sounds of it, Max Tivoli may have been based more on Benjamin Button than Benjamin Button was! Max Tivoli is born as a 70-year-old man whose body grows younger as his mind matures-he meets a girl, they dance around each other’s lives until they are finally the right age for each other.

    I read this as part of a book group, and it was interesting to see the way that this book affected the one male reader in our group-very different perspective from all the female readers. Anyway, thought this might be another interesting comparison read if anyone is interested.

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  19. Rebel

    I haven’t read the short story yet, but I did see the movie. It was a little long, but worth the wait. I was surprised at the ending. I thought it was sad…but the parts with Brad Pitt as a young man were great!!! I have learned many years ago not to expect the same from the printed material and the film version…so I thought I would do it in reverse this time.

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  20. The Book Lady & Benjamin Button « The Book Lady’s Blog

    […] who was born old and aged backwards, going gradually younger while everyone around him grew old. As Trish noted, that’s pretty much the only thing the movie has in common with the story, which I read […]

  21. coffee fiend

    Benjamin Button (the movie) was very Fincher-esque… almost as good as his other stuff if not for some nagging plot holes

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  22. Chelsea

    I haven’t gotten around to reading the short story yet, but I’ve seen the movie and can’t say that I’m the biggest fan! I found the movie long in a way that it didn’t need to be, that is, unnecesarily long. The middle portion, in my opinion, could have been cut almost entirely, with very little lost. However, the story is one that I still find intriguing, and I think that the cinematography of the movie may have been enough of a redeeming factor in my mind – it was beautifully made!

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  23. SalemCat

    I’ve not seen the movie; just read the story yesterday.

    The story is brilliant. Although BB’s life progresses in a direction exactly opposed to normal, BB experiences the same joys, the same challenges, the same pains and failures as any other human being.

    Very well done.

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  24. Kayla

    I thought it was oustanding.The fact that it was unpredictable and outrageous made it even better.As for the ending,i found it slightly crappy,but not shit.

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  25. Alejandra Membreno

    Thanks! this is a project i’m doing for my IB class to compare them both. Thanks!

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