Thursday, December 25, 2008

Turning Pages Soaked by a Flood on a Christmas Day

We went to see Benjamin Button today at the Prytania. The film had a big impact on me, and my eyes teared up more than a few times. The city of New Orleans plays a leading role in the movie, both through its amazing links to the past, as well as the tragedy of Katrina. The movie begins with a blind clockmaker losing his son to the First World War. He builds a clock that runs backwards in order to go back in time and to bring the dead loved-ones back. The movie ends with Katrina flood waters rising, soon to destroy this same clock. The two relatively recent events in my life that made the film especially poignant were witnessing the suffering of New Orleanians after the waters rose when the levees broke, and the passing of my own father a couple of years ago.

The theme of photographs, captured moments in time, were recurring in the film. I was sad a couple of months after Katrina to learn that my photo album had been destroyed in the flood. A few days before Katrina, Therese said she had moved all the photo albums upstairs, but she forgot mine. Here is one of the pictures I took of a flooded photo, one that shows me sleeping with my dad.
So this year I was impressed that Therese went to the trouble to make me a new photo album of a few pictures she was able to collect. Here's a picture of the first page:
The message I suppose, perpetrated by the film and my photo album experience, is that monumental moments in our lives are unexpected, random, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, rarely orderly, and it takes a great deal of courage to keep playing.

I know some have disregarded Benjamin Button as a Forrest Gump copy due to many similarities, mostly because Eric Roth's authorship of both screenplays. I'm not a fan of Gump, and felt that Button was a much better film. Roth explains that both of his parents died while he was writing Button, and I agree with Roth that this script is "more mature." David Fincher did a great job directing. His earlier film Seven remains one of my all time favorite movies.

So I guess we need to go forward, though I do enjoy looking backward now and then. And if I aged backwards like Mr Button, one day someone will look in my new (though old) photo album, and see what looked like shortly before my death:
Now I'm going to introduce my visiting in-laws to Benjamin Button's favorite libation, one that so well represents New Orleans, the mighty mighty sazerac.


LatinTeacher said...

After my all too brief visit, I went to see some of the Prospect.1 stuff. Keith Calhoun and Shandra McCormick lost nearly all of their pictures, too. They are photographers who specialized in taking pictures of their neighbors in the Lower 9th ward. The exhibit at their home is awesome because they are the curators/docents/artists. Go see it if you can before January 18th.

I liked Forrest Gump. But I thought this movie was much better. There were many moments that made me tear up, too. I wasn't sure how I would feel about Katrina being used as a device to steer a story, but I was crying at the end.

Tim said...

Button was fabulous. Photos were the hardest to lose in Katrina. Like the lives they document, turns out they are just as vulnerable.