The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 film in a modern setting loosely adapted from the 1922 short story of the same name written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film is directed by David Fincher, and stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. The film will be released December 25, 2008.
Adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is set in New Orleans from the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century. It follows the life of Benjamin (Brad Pitt), who is born with the appearance and physical limitations of a man in his eighties. Abandoned in a nursing home by his father, Benjamin begins aging backward. While in the home, he meets Daisy, a young aspiring ballerina. As the film progresses, the two fall in love, while struggling to deal with the issue of one growing younger while the other grows older.
- Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button
- Cate Blanchett as Daisy
- Taraji P. Henson as Queenie
- Julia Ormond as Caroline
- Jason Flemyng as Thomas Button
- Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as Tizzy
- Jared Harris as Captain Mike
- Elias Koteas as Monsieur Gateau
- Phyllis Somerville as Grandma Fuller
- Tilda Swinton as Elizabeth Abbott
- Elle Fanning as Daisy - Age 7
- Madisen Beaty as Daisy - Age 10
As early as summer 1994, Maryland Film Office chief Jack Gerbes was approached with the possibility of a film adaptation of the 1922 short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which takes place in Baltimore. In October 1998, screenwriter Robin Swicord wrote for director Ron Howard an adapted screenplay of the short story, a project which would potentially star actor John Travolta. In May 2000, Paramount Pictures hired screenwriter Jim Taylor to adapt a screenplay from the short story. The studio also attached director Spike Jonze to helm the project. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman had also written a draft of the adapted screenplay at one point. In June 2003, director Gary Ross entered final negotiations to helm the project based on a new draft penned by screenwriter Eric Roth. In May 2004, Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount Pictures joined to co-finance the project, with Paramount Pictures marketing the film in foreign territories and Warner Bros. handling domestic distribution (those were eventually switched). In the same month, director David Fincher entered negotiations to replace Ross in directing the film. In May 2005, actors Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett entered negotiations to star in the film as Benjamin Button and Daisy, respectively. In July 2005, Fincher negotiated a deal with the studios to direct Benjamin Button and Zodiac back-to-back, with Zodiac being produced first. For Benjamin Button, New Orleans, Louisiana and the surrounding area was chosen as the filming location for the story to take advantage of the state's production incentives, and shooting was slated to begin in October 2006.
In September 2006, actors Tilda Swinton, Jason Flemyng, and Taraji P. Henson entered negotiations to be cast into the film. The following October, with production yet to begin, actress Julia Ormond was cast as Daisy's daughter, to whom Blanchett's character tells the story of her love affair with Benjamin Button. Filming of Benjamin Button began on November 6, 2006 in New Orleans. The following December, actor Ed Metzger was cast to portray President Theodore Roosevelt. In January 2007, Blanchett joined the shoot. Fincher praised the ease of accessibility to rural and urban sets in New Orleans and said that the recovery from Hurricane Katrina did not serve as an atypical hindrance to production. In March 2007, filming moved to Los Angeles for two more months of filming. Principal photography was targeted to last a total of 150 days, excluding the time it would take to create the visual effects for the metamorphosis of Brad Pitt's character to the infant stage. The director used a camera system called Contour, developed by Steve Perlman, to capture facial deformation data from live action performances. Overall production was finished in September 2007.
The score to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was written by French composer Alexandre Desplat, who recorded his score with an 87-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Sony Scoring Stage. The film's first trailer featured the "Aquarium" movement of Camille Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals (previously adapted by WB for a television special starring two of that studio's most popular cartoon characters, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck). The choir singing in the trailer is Libera, a group of boys from South London. One of the TV spots contains the song "My Body is A Cage" by Arcade Fire.
Todd McCarthy of Variety gave the film a positive review after seeing it at an early screening, calling it a "richly satisfying serving of deep-dish Hollywood storytelling". Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter felt the film was "superbly made and winningly acted by Brad Pitt in his most impressive outing to date." Honeycutt praised Fincher's directing of the film and noted that the "cinematography wonderfully marries a palette of subdued earthern colors with the necessary CGI and other visual effects that place one in a magical past."
The film received the Best Director award for 2008 from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures  The Broadcast Film Critics Association nominated The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in eight categories: Best Film, Best Actor (Pitt), Best Actress (Blanchett), Supporting Actress (Henson), Acting Ensemble, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Score.