Saturday, 11 December 2010

The curious case of Benjamin Button and 10000BC

Friday February 13th is day for caution for those who are superstitious. I had as good night with along waking dream and was ready to go out to confront the slosh and slush before 9.30am. I strode straight down the hill to Ocean Road along the middle of the road where the sun and traffic had cleared a path. Only has to move aside once for a passing vehicle. In Ocean Road there was some icy snow but fewer patches in King Street.

I have six excellent British Second World Films this week only missing on Sunday when i was not prepared to pay for the cost of the paper. Angel’s one five with Jack Hawkins, Michael Denison and Dulcie Grey( of the Glass Mountain); First of the Few with Leslie Howard and David Niven; The Wooden Horse with Leo Genn, Anthony Steel and David Tomlinson; Ice Cold in Alex with John Mills Anthony Quale and Sylvia Sims; The Dam Busters with Richard Todd an Michael Redgrave and Dunkirk with John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Robert Urquhart. There is six more next week unless Sunday is a must have when there is seven.

I still have to view the costume drama with Sense and Sensibility, with David Morrisey, the two disk The Way We Live Now with David Suchet, the excellent Cranford also two disk Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Francesca Anis, Imelda Staunton and Julie McKenzie and two disk Oliver Twist with Robert Lindsey, Julia Waters, Andy Serkis, and Keira Knightly and there is also Icon Frederick Forsyth‘s film from the Action Thrillers series.

From the Classic War series there is I was Monty’s Double where I previously bought the DVD because of the sequence in Gibraltar with John Mills and Cecil Parker; Carve Her Name with pride with Virginia McKenna and Paul Scolfield 49th Parallel with Laurence Olivier and Leslie Howard; We dive at dawn with John Mills and Eric Portman; Tunes of Glory Alec Guiness and John Mills, Above us the Waves John Mills John Gregson; Aces High with Malcolm McDowell and Christopher Plummer; The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp* and the Battle of River Plate*, A matter of Life and Death and the Heroes of Telemark* with those with an asterisk viewed on TV recently, and the others also to viewed. Also waiting from the Internet subscription there is Romanzo Criminale and 10000 year BC remake. While sorting out the disk for viewing and I moved some Christmas voucher cards one toppled behind a unit which will take time to retrieve. Ouch.

I bought three pounds of cherries for three pounds and collected the free Metro Newspaper. The Ship and Royal was not open yet so I remembered to buy a card and then visited the Museum and Art Gallery. I also looked at a nearby Travel office interested in the prices these days. There were some excellent offers for parties of four, three and two. The local butcher had a good display although instead of showing the prices of individual items there was a price for 45.5 grams or such like and with the kilo price in small print. I must have arrived back at the Ship and Royal as it opened as I was the first in avoiding the last slice of bacon of last week. It was then time to make the way back and chosen route had more frozen snow to negotiate. I cut the toffee cheese cake into four with the special saw and left one portion out to eat later with a Hot cross bun and coffee. I felt tired and had a good sleep missing the opening balls of the 2nd Test which were interrupted by rain. Just as I was getting myself organised to enjoy the rest of the inning play the West Indian Bowlers complained that the run into the wicket was not stable and they were having difficult keeping their feet and at risk of serious injury. There was prolonged discussion with the umpires, the match referees, and other officials before play was abandoned at first for the day and then cancelled. There was said to be about 5000 visitors mainly from the UK on the island for this game so even with financial reimbursement of tickets and paid hospitality there is the let down disappointment.

I have found that not all the early postings on MySpace are available for recall and so far I have not found copies on disk. Fortunately I collated the postings in separate volumes whereas those on A0l are contained with the Development Volumes. I am therefore undertaking the task of scanning everything from scratch unless copies are found on disk.

Yesterday was another Hollywood Idol end of Hollywood week session in which the last 72 were divided into four groups with the expectation that two would go home and two would make the next stage. However the format has changed this year and three groups, 48 individuals were put through to the next stage which merited a two hour session this evening. All 48 were on camera if only to be told they were going home, while some of the successfully shared their joy with family members and the other contestants.

I have delayed until now writing about my first cinema visit in the week to see the Curious Case of Benjamin Button Several weeks ago on AOL music I came across the whole soundtrack album of the film which included New Orleans Jazz. I was disappointed that that in the film this aspect is buried into insignificance, although having seen the film I can understand why because the sound track has little bearing or significance in relation to the story other than to indicate time and place. This note was confirmed when I discovered that the film is based on a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald published in Collier’s Magazine and then included is a book, Tales of the Jazz Age. In the story Benjamin is born an old man but is forced to behave as a child by his father. He is rejected from Harvard because he looks at fifty year old when in fact he is 18. Later he is able to enter University because he looks eight and is strong and more vigorous but his mental abilities are deteriorating. He marries a young woman who wants to be with an older men and therefore the relationship is also doomed as Benjamin gets younger looking an enjoys partying while his wife matures and become more settled. Eventually he becomes a child and a baby.

In order to make a film which satisfies the Friday and Saturday night audiences in a multi racial society the adds rather than subtracts from the story. His mother dies giving birth and his father abandon him to be discovered by a black woman and her fiancé to be husband who run home of the elderly. Thus Benjamin grows up with people of his physical age rather than playing with children as in the book although he does befriend one young girl who comes to stay with her grandmother nearby. He starts to walk encouraged by a faith healer.

One day while sitting by the harbour a Fishing boat master asks for casual labour and Benjamin joins in and this begins a relationship which is to have a profound effect on him. He takes Benjamin to a brothel and there he is seen by his father who makes subsequent contact without revealing the relationship. He re-meets Kate during this period and takes her out on a trip on the river. As one point she is ready to spent the night with him having become liberated as a professional dancer working in New York, but he is wants to wait for the right time and the moment passes. The boat gets a three year contract as a salvage vessel working from a Russian port. He has an affair with the wife of a diplomat and learnt to eat caviar and vodka. With the outbreak of war the vessel is commandeered and he enters the USA Navy. They sink a submarine and are sunk themselves in the process. He comes home and goes in search of Kate who has become an established dancer with male friends. He returns realising she has moved on and he has not. The fate intervenes and she has an accident which ends her career. She contacts him and he goes to her aid and rehabilitation. His father has contacted revealed their relationship and left his estate to him which includes a closed factory overtaken by the zipper, a town house and house by a lake. The relationship with the woman who took him in remains as strong and he continues to regard her as his mother.

As part of Kate’s rehabilitation he takes her on a trip in the yacht inherited from his father. When the return they find his care mother has died. He sells his father’s town house and they live a close and happy life in a contemporary dwelling. Kate operates a dance school. However while she is getting older he is getting younger and the birth of their own child, born normal, makes him realises that he will be unable to be a proper father to his daughter and make life impossible for Kate so he leaves to go walkabout again.

He returns once to see how his daughter is progressing once when she is in her early teens and Kate has married and the man has brought up the daughter his child. After her husband dies Kate is contacted when Benjamin has been found in living rough, looking like a young adolescent himself but appearing to have the onset of Alzheimer’s. Eventually she takes care of him to the point when he becomes a baby and dies.

There are two original devices imported into the film. A local clock maker loses his only son in the Great War and given a commission to make he clock for the grand new railway station he disgraces himself by creating a mechanism which goes backwards so that it will reach the point before his son and those of other families in the community went off to war.

This prologue then moves to the hospital bedside of Kate now and old woman in her last days and she makes her daughter read Benjamin’s journal to her and for the first time the daughter realises who her biological father was and mother also gives her the postcards which eh created to mark the main events in the life of his daughter to show her in later life that he always loved and thought of her.

There are at least two ways to appreciate this film. The literal way as a curious quirk of nature running parallel with the station clock until it is replaced with a digital one after the recent New Orleans Flood. The alternative is to see this an allegorical tale about a child raised in an environment with older people and who preferred their company to those of his own age with the exception of a girl who at first found him too old and even when physically they were more in tune they were out of balance except for wonderful short brief period. Then as his wife becomes mature and practical he become adolescent, degenerating into the babyhood of dementia.

There are important parallels between this view and my own experience although on the most important aspects I still find difficult to talk about.

Then for late night viewing I enjoyed watched 10000 years BC which all but one critic hated. The film is set in the middle East/ north Africa where a small semi nomadic tribe live in a harsh climate short of food and dependent on hunting creatures resembling Mammoths. The plot concerns the subsequent lives of two children and how the destiny of the tribe is in their hands. The boy becomes an outcast because his father has left asking the chief hunter to tell no one that he has gone in search of a new land and ways for them to prosper. This boy becomes instant soul mates with a young girl who comes to tribe after her family has been killed. She is marked out by the elderly female of the tribe who acts seer, and medicine woman. She also sees dark times ahead and is unsure if the young boy is the right companion for the girl and her destiny as a saviour of the tribe.

The fortune of the boy changes when as a young man he appears to be responsible for bringing down a mammoth in the hunt and he is to become chief hunter and take the girl, now as young woman as his willing bride. He feels unable to accept the honour because the only reason he was able to keep up with the creature who escaped entangled in a net is that he too had become caught up in the meshing and then he was able to bring down he creature because it ran onto a spear held in place on a rock.

Then tragedy strikes as foretold when a party of slavers who are acting for an Egyptian pyramid building civilization across the dessert at the mouth of a river come for new workers. They take prisoners the girl friend and all the able bodied to be used in the ongoing work. The young man who escaped join forces with the chief hunter and they in turn are joined by a young boy who seeks revenge because of the death of other member of his family.

The three go in pursuit and enter a jungle environment where there are pre historic creatures who threaten friend and foe alike. The young boy is captured in the melee that follows leaving our hero and an injured chief hunter still in pursuit but only after the hero has fallen into an animal trap where he frees a Sabre tooth Tiger from drowning as the heaven open. The two hunters turned warriors come across a village of people with more permanent living structures and who have started to till the land and plant food. These people are more black African than Arab middle eastern and instead of attacking the strangers they accept our hero as their leader because he appears able to communicate to the Sabre Tooth tiger who comes to the aid of the two warriors. They call on the all their people to join forces to fight the slavers who have also taken some of their more able bodied. However just when they are at the point of doing battle the slavers reach their ships and set off the river to their city They have no hope of overtaking. The only other way to reach the city of the slavers is across the desert, something which has been attempted but no one has survived to reveal a route. a crossing which no one has survived.

The ships have red sails so are called red birds and the slavers live in a city called the Mountains of the Gods from where no one has ever escaped. Our Hero discovers that the reason it is possible to communicate with their new allies because his father has passed this way and taught his language to them before he had gone on to attempt to cross the desert.

Our hero has been told by father to use a fixed star for navigation purposes and he uses this tool to guide the warriors across the desert to the edge of the city. They infiltrate to find their friends and neighbours and gain their participation in a plan to free them all from the regime. The Pyramid builders use Mammoths to undertake the heavy work of bring the blocks of prepared stone to the higher levels of the pyramids and the successful plan is to free and turn the lead Mammoth so that the other Mammoths are feed and stampede down the construction slope killing the guards. The plan nearly works but appears to be thwarted at the last minute as the Temple Pries carrying of the instruction of their “god” leader to tear the girl from limb to limb if the rebels do not give in.

There is a sub plot throughout the film following the capture by one of the slave masters, of the girl, now a desirable young woman. He becomes obsessed with the idea of the possessing the girl voluntarily because she is feisty as well as beautiful. He had tried to beat her into submission and this has led to a series of marks, scars on her hands which amazingly are similarly to a heavenly constellation. He defends the actions of the girl from a fellow slave master who just wants to take or kill the girl who he regards as a threat and a nuisance.

On arrival at the Egyptian site there appears to be more slaves than citizens involved in the construction of the gold plated topped pyramids and they are kept together at night in one or more large guarded compounds. The slave master then bribes officials to free the girl from bondage in the hope she will become his bride, especially as the young man attempting to free her will have perished in the attempt to cross the dessert. However the other slave master betrays his action and the girl and his colleague are taken prisoner by the priests, leaders of the city who suddenly note the marks on the hand which are part of a prophecy that a hunter warrior will come and topple the regime. They advise their God leader who is least pleased with the news and the girl is held as a hostage and as an insurance.

When the hero and his men storm the palace temple like building the girl is taken outside and tied in such her way that she will; be torn in two if the attack is not brought to an end. They offer the hunter first the girl, and then his people in exchange for their freedom, but he insists on wanting the release of all the slaves and then settle the matter by using the special spear of the tribe given to the leader to slay their leader proving that he is not a God.

So there is it to be a happy ending? The slave master manages to escape on a horse with the girl but she manages to get hold of a weapon and appears to kill him, but not so, as she runs towards hero the slaver manages to strike a blow which should and does appear to kill her. However back at the settlement the old seer and healer has been clinging to life for this moment knowing that she has to give up her own life so the girl will live. This happens and so the girl, the hero and other captures members of the tribe who survived the journey and battle return to live happy ever after as do the others captured from the other tribes who are now great friends.

This therefore is no more than a traditional ancient history story with the use of contemporary graphics creating a cross between Jurassic park and a bible story designed to be enjoyed by families.

No comments:

Post a Comment