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Lifespan Reflection: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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  • Pages: 4
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  • Category: Death

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button depicts the life of a man who essentially ages in reverse. This bizarre phenomenon was represented by the aging process of an “elderly-looking” infant who gradually grows into an “infant-looking” elderly. The film tells the story of Benjamin through the life experiences and changes that he goes though. The following reflection will analyze some physical, psychological, relationship, intelligence, and social issues related to Benjamin’s aging process.

As the story begins, Benjamin was born with the physicality of an 80-year-old man, however his mentality was that of an infant. He was initially physically small, yet looked old and as he ages through toddlerhood, began to look more like the “elderly” portrayal of his outer appearance. He had wrinkles, he used a cane, was hunch-back, his voice was raspy, he needed the aid of glasses, and physically experienced all the common themes of older adulthood. As he aged, however these physical attributes began to diminish and his appearance began to gradually change into that of a younger looking man to a young man to a child to an infant. At the peak of this process, he had probably met a middle ground where he physically looked like a mature man, and chronologically was the age of a mature man. I image this “middle age” being when his appearance was probably closest to his actual age, around 30 years old; and as that middle age progressed, there was once again a dissonance between the way he looked and the age he actually as.

From a psychological perspective, there had to be a plethora of experiences, which were maybe not even obviously revealed in the film, which had an effect on Benjamin’s psyche. First, form birth Benjamin was taken in by a woman who ran a nursing home, and though he was an infant, developing as a child, he was surrounded by elderly people who looked as he did yet were well beyond his natural development. This environment may have created confusion for Benjamin, as well as deprive him of the interaction with other infants and children that’s needed in the early stages. Also, Benjamin looking as he did in his earlier development created social difficulties for him. The film shows that he was often isolated because of his appearance.

Later in his development however, he was able to do things that younger boys shouldn’t do, like drink and have sex, because of how mature he looked. Looking older than he was as a young man when he was still just a boy, psychologically gave Benjamin the confidence and risk-taking mentality to do the things he was not old enough to do. Through his aging process, Benjamin was forced to face the reality of his condition, leading to him having to make certain decisions such as, abandon his child and her mother, because he knew that he would soon be unable to fulfill the roles of a father and companion, as he would soon be physically incapable. This probably had the biggest impact of Benjamin psychologically—his incapacity to care, love, and provide as he longed to do.

The psychosocial experiences that Benjamin endured, encompassed his scrutiny form others in his earlier years of life, his interpersonal relationships with women as he aged, and his romantic relationship with the mother of his child. As Benjamin aged and grew to look more “appropriate” he thrived in society, traveled, formed relationships, learned through his experiences and essentially experienced life. These experiences however, were short lived as he aged in a debilitated manner, not knowing who he was and entered the stages of dementia essentially alone. His intelligence decreased he looked like a baby, who has to start learning everything from the beginning, but this naivety was his dementia. As his life was winding down, it was amazing to see the unconditional love shown from his first love, who took care of him throughout this trying time and was his only source of support.

My favorite scene of the film was when Benjamin was in India and in the letter written to his daughter he said, “…It is never too late to be whoever you want to be… there’s no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there’s no rules to this thing. You can make the best or the worst of it…. I hope you live the life you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.” This should be everyone’s life mission.

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