"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Twain Maxim Inspires Story Behind 2008 Oscar Favorite

Any way you slice it, Mark Twain has had a profound and ongoing influence on American popular culture. The latest example of the stamina of Twain's wisdom can be found in one of the most acclaimed motion pictures of the year, one that has been making waves lately as a major Oscar contender.

When famous editor Maxwell Perkins related to his even more famous client F. Scott Fitzgerald that well-known remark of Twain's which asserts, "It's a pity that the best parts of life come at the beginning, the worst parts at the end," it inspired Fitzgerald in 1922 to pen the short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"--about a man who comes into the world as an old man and literally ages in reverse, passing away as an infant.

It was that story which was eventually adapted into David Fincher's newest film from Paramount Pictures, starring Brad Pitt in the titular role. Actually, the story had been considered for film adaptation going back to Fitzgerald's lifetime, during his years as a Hollywood screenwriter. However, even a 1943 screenplay by fellow author-turned-screenwriter William Faulkner wasn't enough to get the unusual project off the ground. It popped up again in the early 1980s, but was stuck in development hell for the past 25 years.

And now, finally, after such a rocky road, the film based on the short story inspired by the words of Twain has made it to the silver screen, and is one of the biggest projects of the year. Ol' Sam would sure be amazed.

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