Name that film:
A white man is born fatherless in the south with birth defects that lead many to think he may never walk nor live a normal life. His saintly mother believes in his potential anyway. At a young age, the man learns to walk and sheds his exoskeleton of locomotive aids. Around this time, he also meets the love of his life, a vivacious girl who grows into a bold woman who parts ways with the man to have her own wild adventures. Meanwhile, the man reaches adulthood, and puts in a wartime stint in the U.S. military. During this stint, the man proves at first an indifferent asset, but during his one firefight, he turns out to be very valuable, saving the day singlehandedly, while also witnessing the death of one of his best friends. The man also spends much time on a small ocean vessel, serving alongside a rowdy, grizzled, hard-drinking man of the sea. This salty sailor serves as one of our man’s two best male friends; the other is a black man who first teaches our man the lessons of friendship before departing forever.
Our man wanders all around the world, his life brushing up against key historical moments of the 20th century. At some point he returns to his childhood home, and his mother dies. The man comes into considerable wealth through blind luck. Around this time, his lifelong love returns from her adventures, ready to commit to him. During their brief time together, they conceive a child. The couple part ways, due to the woman’s perceived inability to take care of the man. He does not raise the child through its early years but later makes an appearance in its life. The woman eventually dies in bed from illness. The man’s later years are hardly touched on, even though the movie has lavished much attention on his early and middle years.
The entire story dwells repeatedly on the theme of life’s uncertainty and, in contrast, on the notion of fate or coincidence. The film’s symbol for these themes is a small object seen hovering improbably in the air. A narrative frame scene punctuates the story, as does the main character’s drawling voice-over.
Forrest Gump; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.*
* Both movies were written by Eric Roth, a man who now owes me seventeen dollars, because I was dumb enough to take my wife, who was smart enough to help me ferret out Roth’s crimes against screenwriting. If you liked this round of Name That Film, be sure to check out the original at: http://madeinhead.org/anism/?p=114.