Friday, December 26, 2008

Time and Memory through Benjamin Button

***spoiler alert, sort of***

It is becoming a tradition on both sides of my family to go and see a movie on Christmas day. This year we went and saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I wasn’t sure how I would respond to this film. I think it is one of those films that I will find popping up in moments of reflections on life and death. There are some really provocative aspects to this film. I found the following article very interesting, especially in light of certain ways of thinking about aging (and life and death) in our world. It’s interesting what this person (Sandra Hall) says about Fitzgerald turning Twains observation sort of on its head. While Twain sees the beginning of life as better than the end, Fitzgerald sees the beginning and the end as essentially the same. Most important, for Fitzgerald, time (and death) have the last word no matter how the life cycle goes. This is really interesting for me to think about as I prepare for a class on the resurrection in the New Testament. For Christians death is a reality for everyone, but it is not the last word—resurrection is. Perhaps most interesting is how Hall (a la Fitzgerald) says that time/death are defeated through memory. Very interesting for people, i.e. the Church, who exist in memory—a “memory of the future” (says Zizioulas and others) that informs the present.


I neglected to mention that the The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was originally a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I also seemed to imply that resurrection is a reality for everyone just as death is. I don't mean to imply that I am a universalist. I don't believe we have biblical warrant for universalism.

I also wanted to say more about memory. Hall says, "Underpinning it all is a meditation on the double-edged nature of time and the spiralling twists a life takes en route to its end. Time is brutal, the film is saying. Fitzgerald was right about that. Yet there can be moments that defeat time by enduring as long as they remain in someone's memory." That memory defeats time and death is what I found interesting and why I think it links with Church's memory of the future in the Eucharist.


Anonymous said...

Death rules to here and the secret to Real Life is to thoroughly, and altogether, Understand the meaning & significance of death. Otherwise everything one does is darkened by a hell-deep fear and trembling---even the best moments.

katie said...

you should read "gatsby" for an even fuller idea of fitzgerald's thoughts on memory and the past. he was sort of obsessed with it, and it permeated lots of his writing.

of course, this urging is one in a long line of "reasons why you should read 'gatsby,'" but you know that...