NEW YORK - David Fincher spent five years making the soon-to-be released, Oscar-hyped film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," but he had little use for the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story on which it is based.
In a question and answer session following an advance screening of the film at the Museum of Modern Art, the director said he didn't even read Fitzgerald's 1922 story until two years into working on the film.
"I started out with a 240-age script, so it wasn't like we were looking for new ideas," Fincher said, referring to Eric Roth's screenplay. "I just read a script and thought it was really moving."
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," a highly anticipated release expected to draw several Academy Awards nominations, still weighs in at 167 minutes in length and cost an estimated $150 million to make.
It stars Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button, a man who ages backward: born as an old man and dying as an infant. Cate Blanchett stars as the love of his life, the two reaching the same age only halfway through their lives. Prosthetics and a digital effect called "head replacement" were used to show Button's aging process.
The 46-year-old Fincher is the much-respected director of "Se7en," "Fight Club" and last year's "Zodiac." But "Benjamin Button" is an unusually romantic film for the filmmaker.
"More romantic than `Panic Room'?" Fincher joked Monday night at MoMA, alluding to his 2002 thriller.
"Time has been a villain before or an iceberg before; time has ripped people apart," he said. "But I love the notion of it being kind of wrapped in this confection of a guy who's getting better."
"Benjamin Button" opens Dec. 25.
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