(aka 'Benjamin Button')

Directed by David Fincher
USA 2008

 

“I was born under unusual circumstances . . .” Thus begins The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the Academy Award–winning film starring Brad Pitt as a man who is born in his eighties and ages backward, and Cate Blanchett as the woman he is destined to love forever. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a monumental journey—as unusual as it is epic—that follows Benjamin’s remarkable adventure of romance and redemption from the end of World War I through the twenty-first century. Directed by David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a powerful testament to life and death, love and loss.

***

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which occupies around 25 pages in the collected works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a slender piece of whimsy, a charming fantasy about a man who ages in reverse, descending through the years from newborn senescence to terminal infancy. As Fitzgerald unravels it, Benjamin’s story serves as the pretext for some amusing, fairly superficial observations about child rearing, undergraduate behavior and courtship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

From this odd, somewhat unpromising kernel, the director David Fincher and the screenwriter Eric Roth have cultivated a lush, romantic hothouse bloom, a film that shares only a title and a basic premise with its literary source. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” more than two and a half hours long, sighs with longing and simmers with intrigue while investigating the philosophical conundrums and emotional paradoxes of its protagonist’s condition in a spirit that owes more to Jorge Luis Borges than to Fitzgerald.

Excerpt from A.O. Scott at the NY Times located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 10th, 2008

Reviews       More Reviews       DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Criterion (2-disc Special Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC vs. Criterion (2-disc Special Edition) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 476 - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 476 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:45:50  2:46:02.994 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.9 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Feature: 47,543,949,312 bytes

Disc Size:  48,505,013,465 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Bitrate: 38.18 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  DVD

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French and Spanish-dubbed soundtracks DTS-HD Master Audio English 3588 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3588 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 /
48 kHz / 640 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 /
48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None English, French, Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring Academy Award-nominated director David Fincher
• 4-part - the Birth of Benjamin Button (First Trimester, Second Trimester, Third Trimester, Birth) - a step-by-step examination of the motion-capture process aging Brad Pitt (2:55:06)
• Stills galleries, including storyboards, costume design and candid behind-the-scenes production photos
• 6-page liner notes with essay by film critic Kent Jones 

DVD Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 17

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Feature: 47,543,949,312 bytes

Disc Size:  48,505,013,465 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Bitrate: 38.18 Mbps

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring Academy Award-nominated director David Fincher
• 4-part - the Birth of Benjamin Button (First Trimester, Second Trimester, Third Trimester, Birth) - a step-by-step examination of the motion-capture process aging Brad Pitt (2:55:06)
• Stills galleries, including storyboards, costume design and candid behind-the-scenes production photos
• 6-page liner notes with essay by film critic Kent Jones 

Blu-ray Release Date: May 5th, 2009
Standard
Blu-ray Keep Case
Chapters: 17

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray - May 09':  I had assumed, without checking, that this was a single-disc Blu-ray release - but it's not - it is, in fact, like the DVD, it is 2 separate discs. The film transfer difference is humungous and can be best described mathematically - the Blu-ray is both more than 5X the feature file size and 5X the bitrate. The disc is chock-full with 48.5 Gig of the available 50 filled. In motion it's glorious and the 1080P is a brilliant way to showcase Claudio Miranda's cinematography. Every visual attribute is superior in the high-definition rendering with notable mention to the depth (see 2nd and 3rd large capture pairings below as case in point - they are guaranteed the exact frame!) which exemplifies the flatter SD-DVD and extols the abundant benefits of the superior format. By todays standards there is too much information in, an almost 3-hour, film of this nature to be sufficiently housed on less than 9 Gig of space for viewing on a standard HD home theater set-up. Compression is affected as are characteristics in the form of color balance and tightness, detail and contrast - across the board. This comparison confidently announces the hi-def a significant winner and for individuals who have seen both it makes returning to the DVD, especially for this film, virtually impossible. Visually the Blu-ray is that good and that much better.

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3588 kbps similarly blows away the lesser format both in effect noise and the liltingly beautiful original music by Alexandre Desplat. At time it is more than just a bit stirring - evoking more feeling and stronger emotion. Both offer French and Spanish-dubbed soundtracks and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, plus optional French and Spanish subtitles. My Momitsu Blu-ray player tells me this release is locked to region 'A'!

Extras are duplicated as covered below - same good commentary and, also on a second included disc - aside from galleries and trailers - the sole expanded 4-part featurette - running just shy of 3 hours - but here it is in HD! The liner notes are still there with Kent Jones 3-page essay.  

As I anticipated, I certainly did enjoy The Curious Case of Benjamin Button more than my first two SD viewings. It is still long but I credit the Blu-ray transfer presentation for a significantly more epic 'feel'. This films has some incredibly beautiful moments that really shine forth in the new format. I'd actually advice against watching this on DVD... and encourage any viewing, outside of theatrical, to be Blu-ray.

******

ON THE DVD: I might be less curious about Benjamin and more curious about why this is a Criterion release - but anyway...

I look forward to comparing the simultaneously released Blu-ray available HERE - not that this looks particularly weak - but being such a long film (approaching 3 hours) the transfer could use the benefit of the extensively larger disc space of a dual-layered Blu-ray improving transfer compression as this does seem very 'SD' (standard definition) and I'll wager the hi-def edition is significantly superior in regards to the visuals.  Like Zodiac the film starts with the Paramount and Warner logos - preceding them both is the askew 'C' of Criterion. A few techniques are used, in certain segments, to give the impression of 'age' in the film including intentional vertical scratches and faded contrast. Skin tones seem acceptable if colors are a bit flatter than I would have expected. It doesn't seem to have the usual more intense contrast of a Criterion release. Claudio Miranda's cinematography has some highly impressive moments (that don't seem 'CGI' enhanced) and these look exceptional for SD-DVD but I relish viewing them in 1080P hi-def. Certain moments seem less detailed and this is probably more in-line with the film 'look' than any fault of the transfer but comparison to the Blu-ray rendering should reveal more. As it stands I have no doubt this looks as competent as possible for this lesser format.

Audio is a fairly untested 5.1 with two foreign language DUBs. Sound effects and dialogue are clean and consistent but lack the obvious range and depth of HD. But I don't know to what extent the improvement with bond itself with the film narrative. Expectantly this has no audible flaws and there are optional subtitles in English, Spanish and French.    

I liked Fincher's commentary and am always impressed at how youthful he sounds. His knowledge of production details, I'm sure, is far in advance of anyone else and he is able to, quite honestly, expand on many sub-stories of how things were done with a smattering of genuine appreciation of his cast and crew. Typically, it is worth the sampling although the film's length may temper those who complete the solo discussion. There is a second disc with, aside from galleries and trailers, one expanded 4-part featurette - running just shy of 3 hours. It seems to cover so many facets of the 'behind the story' filming - and depending on your particular leanings much of it is worthwhile. Input comes from just about everyone involved with the cast re-iterating Fincher's Kubrick-eque ability for retakes and perfection of his vision. The Criterion website lists details such as "David Fincher’s creative process on the set" and an "Interview with acclaimed composer Alexandre Desplat about the score" which appear, partially or wholly, incorporated in the 3-hours. It's certainly comprehensive but again, I question the amount of individuals who may be keen enough to indulge to completion. Personally, because of my abject laziness, I may be more prone to access the bonus feature in the single disc of a Blu-ray rather a second SD-DVD. Still, the supplements are quite thorough - while I eagerly invested many times in the worthy extras of Fincher's Zodiac - a film I adored to the point of obsession - I wasn't as keen on Benjamin to do likewise. Other's may differ. There is a 6-page liner notes pamphlet with an essay by Kent Jones.

'Curious' seems the operative word for the film and while I certainly don't rate it as Fincher's best - it has some definite merit. I think another viewing, after it has some time to settle in my mind, may produce a more effective appreciation. While it's scope appears so epic and all-encompassing - the details are typical Fincher - which energies spent may detract from the pace and flow. I enjoyed the ending and the performances but the impact may be more personal than can be related in one reviewer's opinion. I have the suspicion that I may grow to thoroughly enjoy this upon re-visitation. Regardless, being one of the most interesting and effective directors working today you are encouraged to try Benjamin and judge the impact for yourselves. Just be prepared for a long, adventuresome night in the home theater - what a great story concept!             

Gary W. Tooze


Opening Logos

 

 

DVD Menus


 

Disc 2


 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)
 

 


(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)
 

 


(Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)
 

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 476 - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 476 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!