ベンジャミン・バトン 数奇な人生(2008年)

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[amazonjs asin=”B003EVW5OG” locale=”JP” title=”ベンジャミン・バトン 数奇な人生 DVD”]1 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 1
Now we see we’re in a hospital room with layers of white
enamel paint trying without success to hide the years…
An old WOMAN, past 80, withered, still regal with a green
turban around her bald head is propped by pillows, her
blue eyes looking out at us from her bed… She’s
connected to an intravenous for sustenance and a morphine
drip… Her name, is DAISY FULLER. She speaks with a
Southern lilt.

DAISY
If it wasn’t for hurricanes we
wouldn’t have a hurricane season.

CAROLINE
I’ve forgotten what the weather
can be like here. I’ve lived with
four seasons so many years now.

We see a young Black Woman, a “caregiver,” DOROTHY BAKER,
in a corner, thumbing a magazine, with one eye at the
window…

DOROTHY BAKER
I saw on the news they’re
predicting trouble…

DAISY
1928 they stacked people like
firewood to close a hole in a
levee.

But Daisy has other things on her mind… murmuring…

(CONTINUED)

2.

1 CONTINUED: 1

DAISY (CONT’D)
It all runs together… like a
fingerpainting… I feel like I’m
on a boat, drifting…

CAROLINE
(tenderly)
Can I do anything for you, Mother?
Make anything easier?

DAISY
Hmmm. There is nothing to do,
Caroline. This is what it is…
I’m finding it harder to keep my
eyes open… my mouth all filled
with cotton…

And agitated, feeling confined, she scratches at her
nightgown as if it were sticking to her… she starts to take
it off… Dorothy gets up and straightens it for her.

DOROTHY BAKER
There, there, Miss Daisy… you’ll
scratch yourself to ribbons…
(to Caroline)
It’s their way of letting go…
(the finality)
…prob’ly today.

Caroline is well aware of it, but the words, her
admonition of death being so close at hand, makes
everything even more present…

CAROLINE
Do you want more medication,
Mother? The doctor said you can
have all you want.

Daisy is quiet, looking into the distance. Caroline,
seeking closure, sits on the bed with her and starts to
cry. Daisy puts her thin arms around her daughter,
comforting her.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
A friend told me she never had a
chance to say goodbye to her
mother.
(grateful to have the
chance)
I wanted to thank you, Mother, for
bringing me into this world. For
raising me so well.
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

3.

1 CONTINUED: (2) 1
CAROLINE (CONT’D)
I wanted to tell you how much
you’ve meant to me. I’m going to
miss you so much…

They hold each other for some time… They separate…
And there’s an awkwardness they have nothing left to talk
about… nothing left to say to each other… a hole in
their relationship… Caroline fills it with the eternal
question…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Are you afraid?

DAISY
Curious. What comes next…

She winces at some physical pain.

DOROTHY BAKER
The pain’s coming more steadily…
Her breathing will falter soon…
No need for her to suffer..

She raises the morphine level… Daisy closes her eyes…
drifting with the morphine… and a thought, a dream, a
sound, crosses her mind… and she says…

DAISY
They built that train station in
1918. Your father was there the
day it opened… He said a tuba
band was playing…Oom-pah-pah…

2 EXT. THE NEW TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1918 2

And we see a TUBA BAND is playing while a ribbon cutting
ceremony is taking place across the steps of the new
TRAIN STATION…

DAISY
Oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah…The
finest clockmaker in all of the
South built that clock…

3 INT. CLOCKMAKER’S SHOP, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1917 3

We see an old French Quarter storefront with an endless
array of clocks and watches…

DAISY’S (V.O.)
His name was Mr. Gateau. Mr.
Cake.

3A.

4 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 4

The slightest of smiles crosses Daisy’s lips… saying to
herself again… “Mr. Cake…”

5 INT. CLOCKMAKER’S SHOP, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 5

We see a diminutive man in a frock coat with small,
delicate hands, “Mr. Cake,” working in his downstairs
workshop. More than a few clocks stroke midnight, a
handsome Creole Woman comes into the workshop…

(CONTINUED)

4.

5 CONTINUED: 5

DAISY’S (V.O.)
He was married to a Creole of
Evangeline Parish and they had a
son.

Taking his arm, she helps him up to show him to his bed.

DAISY’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Did I mention, Mr. Gateau was from
birth, absolutely blind.

6 INT. CLOCKMAKER’S SHOP, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1917 6

…The clockmaker his fine hands blindly working…

DAISY’S (V.O.)
And when their son came of age,
like boys will do, he joined the
army. They saw him off at the old
train station.

7 EXT. OLD TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1917 7

An old wooden barn of a building. Their son, hugging his
parents, getting on a flatbed train crowded with other
soldiers, pulling away… Mr. Gateau, blindly waving his
hat goodbye to his son…

DAISY’S (V.O.)
Oh how he worked, for months he
did nothing but work on the clock
for the great train station.

8 INT. WORKSHOP BELOW THE CLOCKMAKER’S HOME – NIGHT, 1918 8

The sound of clocks constant ticking. Mr. Gateau at
work…

DAISY’S (V.O.)
One day a letter came…

Blanche comes into the workshop… a letter in her
hand… She reads to her blind husband…

BLANCHE DEVEREUX
“I am sorry to inform you that
your son was killed fighting for
his country, at the battle of the
Marne. In the death of Sgt.
Martin Gateau I lose one of my
most trusted men.
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

5.

8 CONTINUED: 8
BLANCHE DEVEREUX (CONT’D)
When I informed members of our
company he had fallen, on every
face could be seen the mark of
sorrow… …we were in hope the
Lord would spare him to return
home together… Alas this was not
to be. I send along his pants,
shirt, cavalry pin, kerchief, and
haircomb.”

DAISY (V.O.)
Mr. Gateau, done for the night,
went up to his bed.

Mr. Gateau, blindly feeling his way up the stairs…

DAISY’S (V.O.)
And their son came home.

9 EXT. OLD TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1918 9

We see “Mr. Cake” in his familiar hat, his wife holding
his arm, standing among the rows of coffins.

DAISY’S (V.O.)
They buried him where the Gateau
family had been buried for a
hundred and seven years…

10 EXT. NEW ORLEANS CEMETERY – DAY, 1918 10

An old New Orleans cemetery, vines crawling the
sepulchers.

DAISY’S (V.O.)
Mr. Cake went back to work on his
clock… laboring to finish…

11 INT. THE CLOCK WORKSHOP, NEW ORLEANS – LATE NIGHT, 1918 11

Mr. Gateau blindly setting the last spring, closing up
the clock back… finished at last.

DAISY’S (V.O.)
It was a morning to remember…
Papa said there were people
everywhere…

12 INT. THE NEW TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1918 12

And we see a large throng gathered to watch the unveiling
of the clock. Politicians, citizens, and pickpockets
alike…

(CONTINUED)

6.

12 CONTINUED: 12

DAISY’S (V.O.)
Even Teddy Roosevelt had come.

And we see the distinctive figure of Theodore Roosevelt,
in overcoat and hat, the war heavy on his shoulders. We
watch Mr. Cake, with the aid of an assistant, climbing
the scaffolding to his clock covered by a velvet drape…
He stands for a moment… and with a simple tug, releases
the purple swath… People gasp at the magnificent
clock… “Mr. Cake” winds the clock, which chimes a
glorious chime… Pushed by an angel, the second-hand
begins its eternal journey…going around… Everyone
cheers… until they realize the clock is going the wrong
way… traveling backwards in time… A man shouts, “It’s
running backwards!”

MONSIEUR GATEAU
I made it this way… so that
perhaps, the boys who were lost in
the war might stand and go home
again…

13 EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY, 1918 13

And we see just that… bullets leaving mens’ wounds
sailing back into the rifles from whence they came…
limbs, whole again… cannon balls rocketing backwards
into the cannons’ breech… Fallen come to their feet, to
live and breathe again.

MONSIEUR GATEAU (V.O.)
… home to farm, to work, have
children, to live long, full
lives…

14 INT. THE NEW TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1918 14

Teddy Roosevelt, bereft, removes his hat…

MONSIEUR GATEAU
Perhaps, my own son might come
home again…

15 EXT. OLD TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, ANOTHER TIME 15

And we see his own son, Martin, once again full of life
hopping backward off the train to land where his journey
started… back in the arms of his loving parents…

7.

16 INT. TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1918 16

MONSIEUR GATEAU
I’m sorry if I offended anybody. I
hope you enjoy my clock.

And his wife holding his arm, he makes his way across the
terminal and exits… The crowd is motionless. They look
to Teddy Roosevelt for guidance… but he simply puts his
hat on, and with his guardians, is gone…

DAISY’S (V.O.)
Mr Cake was never seen again.
Some say he died of a broken
heart. Some say he went to sea…

17 EXT. THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER – AT THE END OF A DAY 17

Mr. Gateau, blindly rowing… away…

18 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 18

DAISY
He just rowed…rowed…away…

The wind loudly rattles the window…they turn to look…

DOROTHY BAKER
Do you mind if I make myself a
call? I’ve got somebody watching
my little boy.

CAROLINE
No, please go call…

It’s quiet, Caroline sitting on the bed with her dying
mother… with the wind knocking at the window… After
some moments:

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
I hope I haven’t disappointed you,
Mother.

DAISY
Oh honey, you could never
disappoint me.

CAROLINE
I wished I had more to show for
myself. I know you would have
liked to have had grandchildren.
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

8.

18 CONTINUED: 18
CAROLINE (CONT’D)
My life hasn’t been all that…
normal…

As if to say the pieces haven’t all fit… trying to
articulate it…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
I’m either a step ahead… or a
step behind…

DAISY
What’s normal? A hat full of
sand.

CAROLINE
What?

DAISY
(going on)
I need my brown suitcase… The
envelope…

CAROLINE
An envelope?

Caroline doing what she’s asked goes over to one of the
suitcases by the bed… She opens it… and among the
clothes and the keepsakes, there is indeed an old
envelope.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
This one?

DAISY
I tried to read it a hundred
different times… but I couldn’t
bring myself…

CAROLINE
What do you mean?

DAISY
Read it to me.

Daisy closes her eyes… Caroline takes out a sheath of
papers… It’s a journal of some kind written in
longhand… Pages have come undone… scraps of paper,
even some napkins…

DAISY (CONT’D)
(murmurs)
Just the sound of your voice…

(CONTINUED)

9.

18 CONTINUED: (2) 18

And for her mother’s sake she begins to read it… with
no particular interest, like reading to someone a
selection from a menu’s choices…

CAROLINE
It’s dated “April 4, 1985.” It
says, “New Orleans.”
(after a beat)
“This is my last will and
testament…
(which starts to
engage her)
I don’t have much to leave… few
possessions, no money really… I
will go out of this world the same
way I came in, alone and with
nothing.
(finding herself
engaged)
All I have is my story… I’m
writing it now while I still
remember it…”

She’s interested. She looks over at her mother. But her
mother’s eyes are closed…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
“My name is Benjamin…”

And Caroline’s voice becomes a young MAN’S voice…

A MAN’S (V.O.)
“Benjamin Button… and I was born
under unusual circumstances.”

19 EXT. NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT 1918 19

THERE’S SUDDENLY AN EXPLOSION OF FIREWORKS.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
The war to end all wars had ended.

We see the streets of New Orleans are filled with
drunken, singing revelers… cars jamming the
cobblestones, people kissing, shouting joyful… Another
burst of fireworks.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I was told it was an especially
good night to be born…

(CONTINUED)

9A.

19 CONTINUED: 19

And we see in the fireworks’ light, a young MAN in his
early 30s, THOMAS BUTTON, running up to the gate of a
fashionable town home. He nearly collides with a PRIEST
who arrives there at the same time. Thomas runs past
him, up the steps…

20 INT. BUTTON HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT 1918 20

…He runs past a solemn Maid and up a long staircase…
barging into the MASTER BEDROOM…

10.

21 INT. MASTER BEDROOM, BUTTON HOUSE – NIGHT 1918 21

… where we see a young Woman is lying on a bloody bed,
frantically being administered to by a DOCTOR with the
help of the small domestic staff… the PRIEST enters…

THOMAS BUTTON
(seeing him)
Why are you here?

THE DOCTOR
Thomas, I’m afraid she’s not going
to survive…

And the Priest bends to say last rites over the pretty
young woman… and the maids, bringing bedsheets,
futilely start to change her bloody linens…

THOMAS BUTTON
That’s enough…! All of you!

They move out of the way… and Thomas kneels beside his
wife… She’s pale white, fear in her soft brown eyes…
He takes her hand…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
I came as quickly as I could…
I’m sorry I took so long, the
streets are filled with people…

As if to underscore it, fireworks go off…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
You are going to be alright, my
dearest darling… I will not let
anything happen to you…

HIS YOUNG WIFE
Promise me, Thomas…

And she is interrupted by the sudden CRY OF A BABY. But
Thomas can’t take his eyes from his dying wife…

HIS YOUNG WIFE (CONT’D)
Promise me, he has a place…

He doesn’t understand… She looks up at him… holds his
hand tight… then she slips away… The Doctor listening
for her pulse… He covers her… it’s quiet… the
Priest’s murmured incantations… the housemaids
crying…

(CONTINUED)

11.

21 CONTINUED: 21

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
She gave her life for me… And
for that I am forever grateful…

Thomas, still holding her hand, is unable to let go…
When we hear again the BABY CRYING… The BABY’S CRY is
not quite right… It is not an infant’s cry for succor,
or a natural cry to exercise its new lungs… It’s a
deep, haunting cry from some primal soul… They all
turn, and the room stills… listening as The BABY
continues its mournful WAIL. Only Thomas goes to
answer… The Baby in a basket, swaddled in a thick
blanket, its face covered with cloth… Thomas goes to
lift it, to see his son’s face…

MAID
Mr. Button…!

He lifts the cloth anyway… He recoils… for he has
seen some kind of horror… He makes the smallest of
sounds, a whispered “Ohhhh.” And then he suddenly
snatches up the swaddled baby — running with it out of
the room… downstairs… outside…

22 EXT. NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1918 22

… Thomas, tears on his face, carrying his CRYING BABY,
through the streets… Pushing through crowds…

23 EXT. A BRIDGE, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1918 23

… he comes along an old bridge over a waterway… the
air heavy with the haze of fireworks… the water dark…
brokenhearted, he lifts the baby to throw it into the
black water… He is just at the apex of this throw when,
despite his sadness, he can’t bring himself to do it…
Instead, cradles the newborn…

THOMAS
I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…

A LANTERN lights his face… A POLICEMAN down the way…

POLICEMAN
What are you doing there!?

The BABY starts to CRY…

POLICEMAN (CONT’D)
What do you have there?

Thomas takes off… the Policeman after him… Thomas,
carrying the CRYING BABY, running…

12.

23A EXT. NEW ORLEANS, GARDEN DISTRICT – NIGHT, 1918 23A

Thomas, scuttling with the crying infant through narrow
streets past the back porches and the back stairs of the
large old moldering antebellum houses…

24 EXT. THE BACK OF AN OLD NEW ORLEANS HOUSE – NIGHT, 1918 24

He comes to an old three-story house with a screened
porch, VOICES from inside… PEOPLE TALKING and
LAUGHING… The Baby, soothed by the soft yellow light,
by the music of the voices, by the house itself — stops
its mournful cry. Thomas stops, catching his breath…
He looks in through the back porch… the sounds of
VOICES coming… Thomas quietly sets the baby on the back
porch steps. He takes out every last dollar he has,
tucking the money inside the Baby’s blanket… We can
just see the figures of two people coming from inside…
Thomas knocks on the weathered screen door… And his
decision made, he turns, moving away from the house,
leaving his child behind.

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
I could’ve sworn I heard somebody
knockin’…

When a young Black Woman, in a green dress, comes onto
the porch… A thin, attractive woman, in her late 20s,
with the sultry eyes of a lounge singer — She’s known as
QUEENIE. She’s followed by a handsome Black man, MR.
WEATHERS — that everyone calls TIZZY. She looks out the
door, and not seeing anything…

QUEENIE
I guess not…

She stands for a moment taking in the night air…

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
The air smells sweet…

And she sings to herself… a song from the time…

TIZZY
You look very handsome tonight,
Ms. Queenie, handsome as I ever
seen you… The green matches
your eyes…

QUEENIE
(fingering dress)
It isn’t everyday a war’s over,
Mr. Weathers…
(MORE)
(CONTINUED)

13.

24 CONTINUED: 24
QUEENIE (CONT’D)
We have to mark it somehow… You
ain’t no slouch yourself.

He smiles, tips his hat… And they stand in the quiet…

TIZZY
Hambert’s back in town… came
home legless, but he home… we’re
gonna throw a party for him…
help get himself situated…
(beat)
I know you was sweet on him one
time…

QUEENIE
Sweeter than I shoulda been…
Lost his legs you say? “You never
know what’s comin’ for you.”

And if right on cue an older white Woman sticks her head
out…

OLD WOMAN
Ms. Simone messed herself…

QUEENIE
She got to stop doing that, or
it’s diapers for her… I’ll be
right there, Mrs. Jameson…

The woman disappears inside. Queenie, not anxious to
go…

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
It sure is nice out here, Mr.
Weathers…

TIZZY
Awful nice, Ms. Queenie… Come
out back for a moment… take your
mind away from things…

He pushes open the porch screen door…

QUEENIE
(smiles)
Just a moment’s time…

He offers her his hand… She takes it… He backs out of
the house, holding her hand, and he suddenly steps right
on top of the Baby… The baby wails, Tizzy stumbles,
nearly falls…

(CONTINUED)

14.

24 CONTINUED: (2) 24

TIZZY
What in God’s name…?!!

QUEENIE
What is that? A fish crawl out of
the river…?

She moves to it… pushes aside the blanket, and freezes.

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
God in heaven!

IT IS THE VERY FIRST TIME WE HAVE SEEN THE BABY. What we
see is the prominent bald head of any newborn… but it
has the face, the wrinkled skin, the faded eyes, of an
octogenarian. Indeed, if we didn’t know any better, it
would seem the newborn was a wrinkled decrepit sad-eyed
old man…

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
My Goodness, the Lord did
something here…!

TIZZY
Look like a milk wagon run over
it… three times… and back…

And they’re both motionless, not quite sure what to do…

TIZZY (CONT’D)
I didn’t see it layin’ there… I
hope I didn’t hurt it none…
steppin’ on it like that…

The BABY won’t stop its mournful cry…

TIZZY (CONT’D)
We best leave it to the police…
I’ll go —

Queenie hesitates… a longing.

QUEENIE
It’s for sure nobody wanted to
keep it…

And making up her mind, she suddenly grabs up the crying
baby, taking it inside… Tizzy, anxiously whispering
something, going in after her…

15.

25 INT. THE NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1918 25

A piano’s playing a standard, people singing…. There’s
a myriad of old dark rooms… heavy furniture and
carpets… an eclectic mixture of the possessions of
those who have lived and died here over many years… and
we see a parlor is crowded with Old People, from sixty to
ninety-five, in various stages of health… various
contraptions to keep them “afloat”. An Old Age Home. We
see Queenie moving quietly along a hallway, carrying the
crying baby so as not to be seen. Tizzy, following her,
still anxiously whispering after her…

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
Where are you, Queenie…?

QUEENIE
Hold your water…
(and to Tizzy)
Go see to them.

He does what she asks. She hurries the baby into a small
room, literally like a mouse house, under the stairs…

26 INT. QUEENIE’S ROOM, OLD HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT 1918 26

A small room tucked under the staircase…

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
Queenie Apple… she went and
messed herself all over again…

QUEENIE
Jane Childress start her a bath…
and mind your business, Mrs.
Duprey… You’ll be messing
yourself soon enough too!

There’s a KNOCK on Queenie’s door.

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
(whispers)
Somebody stole my necklace…

QUEENIE
I’ll be right with you, Mrs.
Hollister…

She whispers to The Baby, soothing it. And looking for a
place to put it, she opens a dresser drawer…

(CONTINUED)

16.

26 CONTINUED: 26

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
You may be as ugly as an old
pot… but you still a child of
God…

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
Queenie, Apple… she won’t go
take a bath wit’out you…

QUEENIE
Mercy, I’ll be right there.

And with that she puts The Baby into the top dresser
drawer… with her unmentionables… and shuts it…
leaving it open just a crack, enough to breathe…
Turning, she sees an Old Woman, looking very lost,
looking in the room…

MRS. HOLLISTER
My sister gave those pearls to
me… I can’t find them
anywhere… People are stealing my
jewelry…!

QUEENIE
They’re right here, Mrs.
Hollister, right ‘round your
pretty white neck…
(moving her)
Come on now…

There’s a sound of a door chime…

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
Dr. Rose has arrived for his
visit…

Queenie takes a concerned look back at the Baby, and
closes the door… And we stay behind for a moment…
inside Queenie’s underwear drawer, with the smell of a
lilac sachet… is the Baby with the face of an old
man… looking up at the sliver of light coming into the
dresser drawer…

27 INT. PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1918 27

We see the Doctor, an older man in a tired suit, who has
done this longer than he cares to remember, finishing
examining one of the elderly boarders. He puts his
things into his doctor’s bag. Queenie comes beside him,
saying something…

17.

28 INT. QUEENIE’S ROOM – THAT NIGHT, 1918 28

The Baby is lying on Queenie’s bed… Dr. Rose,
stethoscope ever dangling, washes his hands in a sink.

DOCTOR ROSE
… He’s nearly blind from
cataracts… I’m not sure he can
hear… His bones indicate severe
arthritis… His skin has lost all
elasticity… His hands and feet
are ossified… He has all the
deterioration, the infirmities,
not of a newborn, but of a man
well in his eighties on the way to
his grave…

QUEENIE
You mean to say he’s dying?

DOCTOR ROSE
Of old age. His body is failing
him before his life’s begun.

They’re still, looking at the strange baby.

DOCTOR ROSE (CONT’D)
Where did he come from?

QUEENIE
(after a beat)
It’s my sister’s child… From
Lafayette. She had an unfortunate
adventure.
(whispers)
The poor child got the worse of
it… came out white…

DOCTOR ROSE
There are places for ‘unwanted’
babies like these, Queenie…
There’s no room for another mouth
to feed here… The Nolan
Foundation, despite their good
intentions, thinks this place is a
large nuisance as it is… A baby
here —

QUEENIE
(appealing)
You said he don’t have long.

(CONTINUED)

18.

28 CONTINUED: 28

DOCTOR ROSE
Queenie — some creatures aren’t
meant to survive.

She looks at the Baby, determined.

QUEENIE
He is a miracle, that’s for
certain… just not the kind of
miracle one hopes to see…

29 INT. PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE – THAT NIGHT, 1918 29

The Old People are sitting around the parlor talking,
playing cards… Queenie brings the baby bundle into the
room.

QUEENIE
You all listen…

And they stop what they are doing…

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
We have a visitor that will be
staying with us for a little
while… My sister had a child but
couldn’t see right by it… He’s
known as…
(a hesitation naming him)
Benjamin…
(she likes the sound
of it)
Benjamin… He’s not a well
child… so we need to take very
good care of him…

We see Tizzy’s come out of the kitchen , watching with an
air of strong disapproval… And an OLD WOMAN says…

ONE OF THE WOMEN
I had ten children… there’s not
a baby I can’t care for… let me
see him…

Queenie hesitates, and gives the Baby to her… The Old
Woman pushes the blanket back from the baby’s face…

THE OLD WOMAN
(startled)
God in heaven, he looks just like
my ex-husband…

And there’s laughter…

(CONTINUED)

19.

29 CONTINUED: 29

QUEENIE
He’s prematurely old… Doctor
Rose said he don’t have much time
on this earth…

A MAN
Join the club.

They all laugh. Their laughter makes the baby seem to
smile… the lonely smile of an old, dying man.

30 INT. QUEENIE’S ROOM – STILL LATER THAT NIGHT, 1918 30

We see Queenie, unable to sleep, lying in bed, looking
out a small window… there’s a light KNOCK on the
door… Tizzy…

TIZZY
Hambert sends his remembrance to
you.

She nods… The baby cries out… and then it’s quiet…

TIZZY (CONT’D)
(meaning the baby)
Are you right out of your mind? I
know you don’t got all the parts
it takes to make one of your
own… but this isn’t yours to
keep… this isn’t even human
kind…

With nothing left to be said, he starts to go…

QUEENIE
(whispers)
Mr. Weathers. Stay with me
tonight.

He slows. She’s quiet. And she whispers:

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
“You never know what’s comin’ for
you.”

And as they move to be with one another, to make love; we
look over at the dresser drawer — open just a crack…
Benjamin lying among the unmentionables, looking out at
the world…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I found a home…

20.

31 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 31

Caroline with the “journal” on her knees. Daisy, eyes
closed… the wind gathered in strength… furiously
knocking…

CAROLINE
Is any of this true?

DAISY
You have such a lovely voice.

Caroline shrugs. She looks through the “book…”

CAROLINE
Some pages seem to be torn out
here…

She discovers inside…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
There’s an old streetcar token.

She gives it to her mother, folding her hand around it.
But Daisy is somewhere else, looking out the window…

DAISY
That clock… Just kept going,
year after year after year…

32 INT. “NEW” TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – ANOTHER DAY, 1925 32

And we see “Mr. Cake’s” clock with its cherubs pushing
the “hands of progress,” still marking time backwards…
The year is now, “1925…”

33 INT. THE NOLAN HOUSE – DINING ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – 33
EVENING, 1925

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“…I didn’t know I was a child.
I thought I was like everyone else
who lived there, an old man, in my
“golden years.”

The boarders eating dinner. Queenie, in a white
uniform… along with Tizzy, wearing a chef’s hat and
apron, helping her serve. We move across the ancient
faces… until we come to one particular face… Wearing
eyeglasses now… but the same wrinkled face we’ve come
to know… the face of a very old man…

(CONTINUED)

21.

33 CONTINUED: 33

The face of Benjamin Button, when he should normally be a
six-year-old. He’s sitting in a wheelchair now… small,
shrunken, hunched with age, legs and hands crippled with
arthritis… Eyeglasses are just one addition… a
hearing aid… a bulky apparatus of its time, is in one
ear… But if we look even closer we can see there are
sprouts of hair… wisps of white… what would be the
last hair for some… seem to be growing in… As we
watch him eat, he uses his fork like a child might,
banging it just for the hell of it making noise…

QUEENIE
Stop bangin’ that fork…
(fixing it in his
arthritic hand)
It’s for eating, not for playin’
with… And use your napkin,
please Mr. Benjamin…

And he does as he’s told… A staff member helps one of
the old men, feeding him… Benjamin just another old man
having dinner with his contemporaries.

34 EXT. THE PORCH, NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1925 34

A line of old people in rockers. Benjamin, like any six-
year-old, bored, wheels his chair back and forth, between
them… until one of the oldsters, who has had enough,
sticks his cane in the spokes of his wheelchair, making
him come to an abrupt stop… Benjamin, sitting with the
other oldsters on the porch… the old people rocking…
Sounds drift from the street beyond the wall… children
playing… people talking…

BENJAMIN BUTTON
What’s there?

Nobody says anything, rocking. Benjamin, eternally
curious needing to know, suddenly wheels himself
precariously to the very edge of the porch where the wall
is lower and he just sees the street… children running
on the street, playing… carriages dropping people off
for a party… He leans forward to get an even better
view… When Queenie suddenly grabs him…

QUEENIE
Benjamin! That’s dangerous… Come
back here…!

…Rolling his wheelchair away from the edge to the
safety of the old people… out of sight of the street…

22.

35 INT. QUEENIE’S ROOM – NIGHT, 1925 35

The small room with the small window. We see Benjamin in
a bed made on the floor… Queenie in her bed…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I loved her very much. She was my
mother.

And he reaches to hold her hand. She generously takes
his hand… And they lay like that holding hands, Queenie
in bed, her “son”, the “old man” on the floor…

BENJAMIN BUTTON
Somedays I feel like I’m different
from the day before…

QUEENIE
Everybody feels different about
themselves one way or another.
We’re all goin’ the same way, just
taking different roads to get
there… You’re on your own road,
Benjamin.

BENJAMIN BUTTON
How much longer do I have to live,
Mother?

QUEENIE
Just be thankful you got what
you’re given. You already here
longer than you supposed to be.

We see the door quietly open, Tizzy coming in…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Some nights, I would have to sleep
alone.

He looks at Benjamin, his signal to pick him up, carrying
him out of the room, sitting him in his wheelchair, Tizzy
going back down into the room to be with Queenie…
shutting the door…

36 INT. THE PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE, LATE AT NIGHT, 1925 36

An Old Woman’s fallen fast asleep in an easy chair, a
book on her lap. Benjamin sitting alone in his
wheelchair, listening to the sounds of the house.

(CONTINUED)

23.

36 CONTINUED: 36

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I didn’t mind. I would listen to
the house breathing. All the
people sleeping. I felt safe.

Be he still wants to know “What’s over there?” He wheels
himself over to sit at the window looking outside…
looking at the streetlights, the world beyond the gate…
trying to see what’s dangerous…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
It was a place of great routine…
Every morning at 5:30, no matter
the weather… General Winslow,
U.S. Army Retired… raised the
flag…

37 EXT. THE FRONT LAWN, NOLAN HOUSE – MORNING, 1925 37

And we see the very elderly General Winslow, doing just
that… raising the flag in a downpour, only… he’s
naked. And as Queenie comes running across the lawn with
a coat for him. There’s the sound of SOMEONE SINGING
OPERA…

BENJAMIN BUTTON (V.O.)
Mrs. Sybil Wagner, once a noted
opera singer… well, she’d sing,
Wagner…

38 INT. MRS. WAGNER’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – MORNING, 1925 38

We see a Victrola playing, Mrs. Wagner in her nightgown
at a window singing with the musical accompaniment at the
top of her lungs… while, down the hall we see Queenie
giving Benjamin a bath… massaging his poor crippled
legs…

QUEENIE
We’re gonna put some life into
these old sticks for you… get
you walkin’…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Breakfast was served promptly at
six.

39 INT. THE KITCHEN, NOLAN HOUSE – MORNING, 1925 39

We see Benjamin in his wheelchair, under Tizzy’s
tutelage, learning to cook… and simultaneously, to
read…

(CONTINUED)

24.

39 CONTINUED: 39

TIZZY
How we doin’? What’s that say
there?

BENJAMIN
Bis…

TIZZY
Biscuits… and…

BENJAMIN
Graby…

TIZZY
Think. That’s a ‘v’ not a ‘b.’
Say it.

BENJAMIN
Gravy.

TIZZY
Now you talkin’!

Some staff come in getting platters of food…

TIZZY (CONT’D)
How many parts butter we got?

BENJAMIN
Four…

TIZZY
How many parts flour?

BENJAMIN
Two…

TIZZY
How much is four and two?

BENJAMIN
Six.

Tizzy smacks the back of his head.

TIZZY
You’re a regular addin’ machine…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Dinner was served promptly at six.

25.

40 INT. KITCHEN, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, 1925 40

Tizzy washing dishes…Benjamin working with him…
putting away cans… reading from one of the labels…

BENJAMIN
Tomato, brown sugar, salt,
myasses…

Tizzy swats at him with his dish towel…

TIZZY
“Molasses”…

And while washing the dishes…

TIZZY (CONT’D)
I learned to read when I was five.
My grandfather was a dresser for a
famous actor. He’d bring home
every play for me to read.
(Shakespeare)
“Kind keepers of my weak decaying
age, Let dying Mortimer here rest
himself. Even like a man new
haled from the rack. So fare my
limbs with long imprisonment. And
these gray locks, the pursuivants
of death, Nestor-like aged in an
age of care, Argue the end of
Edmund Mortimer.”

Benjamin’s mouth agape, awed, taken by him, his majesty.

TIZZY (CONT’D)
You thought I was plain ignorant,
didn’t you?

Benjamin never thought about it…

TIZZY (CONT’D)
The actor my grandfather worked
for was John Wilkes Booth. He
killed Abraham Lincoln. You never
know…

An old man looks in…

A MAN
When’s dessert…?

(CONTINUED)

26.

40 CONTINUED: 40

TIZZY
When it’s served. Now sit your
wrinkly butt back down, Mr. Lee.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
On Saturday nights I would go to
Queenie’s church…

41 INT. CHURCH TENT, NEW ORLEANS – A SATURDAY NIGHT, 1926 41

A sweltering shout ‘em up Negro gospel tent. Queenie
pushes Benjamin in his wheelchair past a line of people
looking to be healed, bringing him face to face with a
mountain of a PREACHER, pouring sweat and full of fire…

THE PREACHER
What can I do for you, Sister?

And Queenie whispers something to him.

THE PREACHER (CONT’D)
Her parts are all twisted up
inside so she can’t have little
children…

He puts his hand on her stomach…

PREACHER
Lord, if you could see clear to
forgive this woman her sins so she
can bear the fruit of the womb.
(and shouts)
Out damnable affliction!

He presses on her stomach… making Queenie nearly fall
over… held up by a “NURSE” in a crisp white uniform.
And once she’s regained her balance…

THE PREACHER
(at Benjamin)
And what’s this old man’s
irrediction?

QUEENIE
He’s got the devil on his back…
trying to ride him into the grave
before his time…

THE PREACHER
(touches Benjamin)
Out, Zebuchar! Out, Beelzebub!
(after a beat)
How old are you?

(CONTINUED)

27.

41 CONTINUED: 41

And he says what is only true.

BENJAMIN
I’m seven, but I look a lot older.

PREACHER
(laughs)
God bless you. He’s seven!

The congregation laughs…

THE PREACHER
This is a man who has optimism in
his heart! Belief in his soul!
We are all children in the eyes of
God. Now we are going to get you
out of that chair… we’re gonna
have you walk…
(his hands on Ben’s
shoulders)
In the name of God’s glory, rise
up!

And Benjamin, doing what he’s asked, barely able to, his
legs akimbo, stands… The people all applaud…

THE PREACHER (CONT’D)
Now God is going to see you the
rest of the way… He’s going to
see this little old man walk
without the use of a crutch or a
cane…! He’s going walk by
himself on faith and divine
inspiration alone…! We’ll show
that Devil where to go…! Walk
on…!

And Benjamin takes two very precarious steps and his poor
arthritic legs give out… and he sprawls to the floor…
The Aides in white nurse’s uniforms move to help, but:

THE PREACHER (CONT’D)
Don’t touch him!
(kneeling to Benjamin)
Rise up, old man!

But Benjamin stays crumpled on the floor… The Preacher
comes to his feet, standing like a mountain over him…

THE PREACHER (CONT’D)
Rise up like Lazarus!

Benjamin still lies on the floor…

(CONTINUED)

28.

41 CONTINUED: (2) 41

THE PREACHER (CONT’D)
I said rise up!!

And Benjamin, slowly but surely, makes his way to his
feet…

THE PREACHER (CONT’D)
Yes, and say hallelujah!
(Hallelujah!)
Now walk, my old friend…
Walk on…!

And Benjamin, one crippled leg at a time, hobbles across
the stage… The people urging him on… a string of
“Hallelujahs…!” Queenie comes to join him… urging
him…

QUEENIE
Let the Lord carry you… …

…The Preacher, walking along with him, more a dance
than a walk, shouting the name of the Lord… Queenie and
The Preacher walking Benjamin across the stage…
Benjamin making it to the other end… to a roar of
“Amens”!

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Now, when I look back on it, it
was kind of miraculous… But you
know the saying, “…the Lord
Giveth and the Lord Taketh
away…”

… That mountain of a Preacher… in full exaltation to
God…

THE PREACHER
Praise be to the Lord on the
highest…!

Suddenly pitches over, flat on his face… Having had a
spontaneous coronary… lying center-stage, deader than
the proverbial doornail… The crisp uniformed “nurses”
running to attend to him, and poor “old” Benjamin
haplessly looking around.

42 INT. THE PARLOR ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY 1926 42

The people are gathered…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
There were birthdays…

(CONTINUED)

29.

42 CONTINUED: 42

A lit cake is being brought in celebrating General
Winslow’s birthday. He stares at the cake, unhappily
gets up, mutters something… and leaves. The oldsters
eye the cake, and without a moment’s hesitation, dig
in…

BENJAMIN BUTTON (V.O.)
And mortality was a common visitor
to our house… People came and
went… Death was so frequent, I
was never afraid of it.

43 EXT. NOLAN HOUSE, ANOTHER MORNING, 1926 43

Mrs. Wagner’s window open… and not a sound coming
out…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
You could hear when someone left
us… there was a silence in the
house…

44 EXT. AN OLD NEW ORLEANS’ CEMETERY – DAY, 1926 44

A small funeral at an old cemetery… And while “DIE
VALKYRIE” PLAYS on her crank VICTROLA, an old man bangs
cymbals as a grand finale to the music… while we see
SYBIL WAGNER, laid to rest to sing in another choir:

45 EXT. THE FRONT PORCH, THE NOLAN HOUSE – DUSK, 1926 45

Benjamin with his wondrous ancient face sitting in his
wheelchair with the old people on the porch… watching
the sun go down…

BENJAMIN BUTTON (V.O.)
It was a wonderful place to grow
up. I was with people who had put
away all the inconsequences of
life, left in a state of purely
being…wondering about the
weather…the temperature of a
bath…the light at the end of the
day…

And one of them, as if to underscore the point, farts…

46-47A OMIT 46-47A

30.

47B INT. THE NOLAN HOUSE, KITCHEN – ANOTHER DAY, 1927 47B

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
For everyone that died, someone
would come to take their place…

And we see Benjamin coming into the kitchen… Tizzy busy
preparing lunch… Benjamin stops, seeing a tiny African
man, his back to us, surrounded by old people standing on
the lawn… He hears him telling them…

NGUNDA OTI
… My first wife and I are
captured by neighbor tribe,
cannibals…

The old people shrink at the mention…

NGUNDA OTI (CONT’D)
I escaped across the river…

AN OLD WOMAN
(wide eyed)
You escaped cannibals?

NGUNDA OTI
My wife, she can’t swim, so she
eaten.

TIZZY
(telling Benjamin)
That’s Mr. Oti… He’s an
acquaintance of an acquaintance of
mine…he’ll be stayin’ with us in
the staff quarters for awhile…

NGUNDA OTI
(telling old people)
…Second wife stepped on viper
and dies… (jocular) It was bad
luck to be married to Mr. Oti.

They laugh.

NGUNDA OTI (CONT’D)
I am captured with six others by
Baschiele tribe. They sell us to a
big white man…

He instinctively turns and sees Benjamin standing in the
window watching him. When Mr. Oti spots him he quickly
moves out of the window out of sight.

31.

47C INT. THE PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER TIME, 1927 47C

We see Benjamin lying on the floor by the stairs playing
with some metal army men… when Mr. Oti’s distinctive
laugh, his voice, drifts up from under the stairs…
Benjamin, getting his canes, goes to look… Mr. Oti,
standing under the stairs in an alcove with some of the
help, telling them his life story… but it’s a
completely different tone… a mockery of white people
and their insanity…

NGUNDA OTI
The Big White Man brings us to St.
Louis, where they make our village
at the 1904 World’s Fair… They
have us livin’ in these little
huts like we’re livin’ in
Africa… people behind bars
staring at us… we told not to
look at them… to just go about
our normal lives… what the hell
they talkin’ about… ?

They all laugh…

NGUNDA OTI (CONT’D)
At night we’re done bein’
“savages…” we go over the wall
into The Rosebud… we drank and
laughed until the sun come up…
and then we savages again…

They nod enjoying the idea… And as Mr. Oti senses
Benjamin’s presence, turning… Benjamin retreating on
his canes as fast as he can back up the stairs…

47D INT. DINING ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, 1927 47D

Benjamin sitting at the dining room table reading an
oversized book of “Imaginary Beings…” He senses a
presence… and Mr. Oti sits down across from him.

NGUNDA OTI
I hear you not so old as you
looking. You just foolin’
everybody. What happen, you get
Madjembe?

(CONTINUED)

32.

47D CONTINUED: 47D

BENJAMIN
What’s a madjembe?

NGUNDA OTI
Worms.

BENJAMIN
I don’t think so. This is just
how I am.

Mr. Oti looks out at the street.

NGUNDA OTI
You want to get a cold root beer?

BENJAMIN
(an echo)
It’s dangerous.

NGUNDA OTI
Who said that?

He gets up ready to go. Benjamin hesitates. He can see
Queenie busy leaning out a window banging dust from a
rug.

NGUNDA OTI (CONT’D)
(last chance)
…Come on little man…

Despite knowing the consequences he takes up his canes
and follows Ngunda outside…

48 OMIT 48

49 EXT. STREET, OUTSIDE NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1927 49

They come outside. Children on the street playing.
Seeing Benjamin, they come to a dead stop… staring at
the freak from the old people’s home, with another
freak… Mr. Oti suddenly runs into the street…

NGUNDA OTI
Hurry…

Benjamin tries as best he can to keep up… Mr. Oti darts
directly in front of a street car, waving his arms,
making it come to an abrupt stop…

(CONTINUED)

33.

49 CONTINUED: 49

NGUNDA OTI (OVER) (CONT’D)
…Another white man come to my
country and say he want to talk to
me…

50 INT. THE STREETCAR, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1927 50

We move along the aisle of a streetcar… the various
people…

NGUNDA OTI
Then I am in the monkey house at
“Philadelphia Zoological Park.”
Three thousand people show up my
first day…

Benjamin and Ngunda siting in the back of the streetcar
behind a moveable metal bar that has “Coloreds” painted
on it… Mr. Oti taking a slug from a flask… A group of
school children nearby can’t take their eyes off the two
of them… Mr. Oti takes his wallet out, taking out a
folded piece of newspaper, showing it to Benjamin…
“Bushman shares cage with park apes.”

BENJAMIN
What’s it like living in a cage?

NGUNDA OTI
It stinks. The monkeys, they do
some tricks… I throw spear… I
wrestle with Kowali, she is
orangutan… They have me file my
teeth like a cannibal…

He shows him his teeth filed into points like a
cannibal…

NGUNDA OTI (CONT’D)
When I’m not playing with monkeys –
– they want me to run to bars in
my cage with teeth to scare little
children…

And he suddenly jumps up and does just that, charging
with his teeth bared at the school children… They
scream… Mr. Oti, taking his seat again, laughs with
Benjamin…

50A INT. (OR) EXT. THE STREETCAR, NEW ORLEANS – DAY 50A

Benjamin, ecstatic, his head out the streetcar window,
Mr. Oti holding onto the back of his breeches from
falling… Benjamin feeling the wind and the city wash
over him…

34.

51 EXT. THE PERISTYLE, NEW ORLEANS – PARK – END OF DAY, 1927 51

Benjamin and Mr. Oti sitting on a bench at the peristyle
of a park. Benjamin takes his first slug of a coca cola,
taking too big a hit, the coke pouring out of his nose…
Mr. Oti gives him a handkerchief… after he’s wiped
himself up…

BENJAMIN
Why didn’t you go back home?

NGUNDA OTI
War between English and Dutch
people had broken up kingdom.

BENJAMIN
What did you do?

NGUNDA OTI
I leave zoo. Go here. Go there.
Everything okay. But I alone.

BENJAMIN
You were all alone?

NGUNDA OTI
You’ll see little man, plenty
times you be alone. You different
like us, it’s gonna be that way.
But I tell you a little secret I
find out. We know we alone. Fat
people, skinny people, tall
people, white people… they just
as alone as us… But they scared
shitless…

He smiles a knowing smile…

NGUNDA OTI (CONT’D)
Not a thing wrong with being
alone… no sir…

He looks out…

NGUNDA OTI (CONT’D)
I think about the river I grew up
on. It would be good to sit by my
river again.

He looks at his watch. He suddenly gets up…

34A.

52 EXT. BOURBON STREET CORNER, NEW ORLEANS – DUSK, 1927 52

Mr. Oti and Benjamin coming along the street, music
pouring out… They reach a corner where a tall octoroon
woman is waiting. She broadly smiles seeing Mr. Oti.

THE WOMAN
There’s my little man. You ready,
sugar.

(CONTINUED)

35.

52 CONTINUED: 52

NGUNDA OTI
(smiles, pure Ngunda)
Always ready. Always ready.
(introduces)
Filamena, Mr. Benjamin.

FILAMENA GILEA
(respectful of his
age)
It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sir.

NGUNDA OTI
(to Benjamin)
You can find your own way home,
can’t you?

Although he’s not sure he can… he nods, yes.

NGUNDA OTI (CONT’D)
The St. Charles Avenue line to
Napoleon…

And with that, his arm around Filamena’s waist, the two
of them laughing, walk off… Benjamin’s left standing on
the street corner… he looks around to get his
bearings… he moves along Bourbon Street… A streetcar
comes along, bell clanging, it rushes by him… he
watches it go… Clasping his canes, determined, he
starts walking… bent over, one cane after the other…
making his way along the street…

53 EXT. NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – LATE NIGHT, 1927 53

We see Benjamin coming back to the gate… and we hear:

QUEENIE (V.O.)
Where in God’s name have you
been?!!

And we see Queenie standing on the porch… She’s worried
sick… she sees his hands are bleeding from blisters.

54 INT. KITCHEN, QUEENIE’S SINK, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT 54

Queenie cleaning his hands…

QUEENIE
Like to scare the Holy Hell out of
me! I was so worried about
you…you take my breath away…

(CONTINUED)

36.

54 CONTINUED: 54

BENJAMIN (V.O.)
It had been the best day of my
life.

55 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 55

And the “caregiver,” Dorothy Baker, comes back in. She
feels Daisy’s pulse, straightens her pillow…

DOROTHY BAKER
How’s her breathing… ?

CAROLINE
Shallow.

Dorothy nods.

DOROTHY BAKER
(after a beat)
They’re sayin’ it’s gonna reach us
late in the day… I’m goin’ to
get my baby and take him to my
sister’s… they said there’s
nothin’ to worry about here in the
hospital…Nurses are right here
if you need them…I’ll see you in
about an hour if that’ll be
okay…

CAROLINE
No, that’s fine…please…

She leaves. It’s momentarily quiet, the wind knocking at
the window… Daisy, ruminating…

DAISY
Was there just company?

CAROLINE
Dorothy had to go home…

But Daisy’s mind is elsewhere…gesturing for her to keep
reading…

DAISY
Caroline…

Caroline looks back at the book. Daisy closes her
eyes…

CAROLINE
“On Sundays the families would
come and visit…

36A.

56 EXT. THE LAWN, THE NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 1930 56

The boarders on the lawn with their loved ones… And we *
see an OLD MAN, walking with the aid of a cane coming out *
of the house onto the lawn… And as he moves through the *
people we see it’s Benjamin… He has a single cane, *
standing more upright now, a distinctive shock of white
hair, eyebrows… A distinguished looking man in his *
seventies, or, in normal years, a growing twelve-year-old
boy…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
It was Thanksgiving 1930, I met
the person who changed my life
forever.

A chauffeured car has stopped… A Man is standing in the
road, looking at the house through the gates… And we
realize it’s THOMAS BUTTON… looking for a glimpse of
his son… Benjamin instinctively turns, but it’s too
late, his father’s back in the car, being driven away…

(CONTINUED)

37.

56 CONTINUED: 56

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
Well, Benjamin… *

He turns, an older woman nearby… *

BENJAMIN *
(politely) *
Why, good day Mrs. Fuller… *

GRANDMA FULLER *
Might I say you are looking *
strikingly youthful…a single *
cane, your back as straight as an *
arrow… what elixir have you been *
drinking? *

He laughs…And there’s a voice that cuts through the *
day… *

A LITTLE GIRL’S VOICE *
Grandma, look at me… *

Benjamin, and Grandma Fuller turn to see a little girl, *
no more than eight, standing on a picnic table top doing *
pirouettes, one after another, for an admiring group of *
old people…she full curtsies, bowing –the way dancers *
do head to chest… then raising her head, laughing… *

GRANDMA FULLER *
Now that was really something… *
Come on over here, you… This is *
my granddaughter Daisy… This is *
Mr… Benjamin, I’m afraid I don’t *
rightly know your last name… *

BENJAMIN
Benjamin is just fine… *
*

(CONTINUED)

38.

56 CONTINUED: (2) 56

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) *
I would never, the rest of my *
life, forget those blue eyes… *

And with great dignity – *

TIZZY *
(calling to all) *
Good people, Supper is soived. *

39.

*

57 INT. DINING ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – THANKSGIVING, 1930 57

The families, along with Ngunda and Filamena, are
gathered in the dining room, their heads bowed in prayer.
We see Daisy across from Benjamin… The prayer’s
finished, it’s noisy…

NGUNDA OTI
We pray to Bembe… the creator of
all living things… she retired
after all that work…

DAISY
(needing to top that)
Did you know turkeys aren’t really
birds…?

BENJAMIN
Why do you say that?

DAISY
They’re in the pheasant family.
They can hardly fly. It’s sad
don’t you think? A bird, that
can’t fly.

NGUNDA OTI
I like birds that can’t fly.
They’re easy to eat.

QUEENIE
(standing)
I have something to tell you
all…

(CONTINUED)

40.

57 CONTINUED: 57

They’re quiet.

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
While we’re giving thanks for
God’s blessings… I’ve had a
miracle happen.
(she touches her
stomach)
The Lord saw fit to answer my
prayers.

The people applaud the good news.

BENJAMIN
What does she mean “answered her
prayers?”

DAISY
She’s going to have a baby, silly.
That’s what my mother said when I
was going to have a little
brother. He didn’t live long
though. He didn’t breathe
right…

And we can see Benjamin’s heart beginning to break… he
looks over, Tizzy, proudly smiling… And as Queenie
accepts congratulations… Benjamin’s old wrinkled face,
watching her… looks like he’s going to cry…

58 INT. PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, LATER, 1930 58

We see an ABSTRACT BLACK AND WHITE DRAWING. And we hear
a woman’s voice…

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
This is the picture of Old Man
Kangaroo at five in the
afternoon… *

AN OLD FINGER comes in pointing to a drawing. We see *
Benjamin and Daisy, sitting close together on a sofa, and *
Daisy’s grandmother, arm encircling them, is reading to *
them from Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories.” *

GRANDMA FULLER *
You can tell it’s late, because of *
the shadow here… *

Benjamin and Daisy sitting rapt while she finishes *
reading to them… *

(CONTINUED)

40A.

58 CONTINUED: 58

GRANDMA FULLER (CONT’D)
It’s the time Old Man Kangaroo got *
his beautiful hind legs just as… *
I hope I’m saying this right… *
just as Big God Ngog had promised. *
You can see that it’s five *
o’clock, because Big God Ngog’s *
pet tame clock says so. *
(finishing) Isn’t that something? *

Both Daisy and Benjamin, thrilled, say: “Again. Read it *
again.” *

GRANDMA FULLER (CONT’D)
Alright, once more… but *
afterwards (forgetting Benjamin’s *
age) both of you must promise to *
go to bed… *

They both “I promise…” And as she starts to read all *
over again… *

41.

*

59 INT. A ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – LATE AT NIGHT, 1930 59

We see Benjamin asleep in bed with one of the Old Men,
MR. DAWS. The door opens. And Daisy, in her nightgown,
has come inside… she slightly touches Benjamin…

DAISY
(whispers)
Are you sleeping?

He shakes “no.”

DAISY (CONT’D)
(whispers)
Come on…

She moves quickly out of the room and Benjamin gets up,
and with the aid of his cane, follows her…

60 INT. BACK STAIRWELL, NOLAN HOUSE – LATE NIGHT, 1930 60

The old house still. Daisy, moving quietly down the
stairs. Benjamin, his cane softly thumping the steps,
following her.

BENJAMIN
(whispers)
Where are we going?

She doesn’t say anything. She leads him into the DINING
ROOM… where we see the wash has been draped, sheets and
pillowcases, like ghosts over the dining room table, and
a smaller side table, and a buffet…to dry…

DAISY
Under here…

And she ducks under a sheet, beneath the dining table…
Benjamin follows her into the “fort…”

DAISY (CONT’D)
Nobody knows about this but us.

(CONTINUED)

42.

60 CONTINUED: 60

They sit… The little girl, and the old man with the
maturity of a ten year old boy, enjoying their secret
lair… She takes a candle out of the folds of her
nightgown… She tries to light it, but doesn’t really
know how to use matches…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Will you light it?

BENJAMIN
I’m not supposed to use matches…

DAISY
Don’t be chicken…

Despite his caution, he lights the candle… the
candlelight making it feel more secret…

DAISY (CONT’D)
I’ll tell you a secret then you
tell me one…
(whispers)
I saw mommy kissing another man.
Her face was red from it.

Benjamin doesn’t know what to say.

DAISY (CONT’D)
Your turn to tell.

BENJAMIN
I’m younger than I look.

DAISY
(whispers)
You don’t seem like an old
person… like my grandma… Are
you sick?

BENJAMIN
(whispers)
I heard Tizzy and my mother
whisper. They said I was going to
die soon.
(smiles)
But I fooled them so far.

Daisy looks at him in the flickering candlelight.

DAISY
You are different than anybody I
have ever met. Can I?

(CONTINUED)

43.

60 CONTINUED: (2) 60

She innocently reaches to touch the skin on his cheek to
see what it feels like… When suddenly a sheet is pulled
back and Daisy’s grandmother is standing there.

GRANDMA FULLER
What are you doing under there?
Who’s idea was this candle?

She angrily blows it out… and… to Daisy… taking her
by the arm…

GRANDMA FULLER (CONT’D)
It’s after midnight, you come
right out here and get back up to
bed…!
(and for Benjamin,
but saying it to
Daisy)
You are not to be playing
together! Play with people your
own age…!
(moving her along)
Now, you come back to bed, young
lady…! You’re too young to be
wandering around in the night by
yourself…
(and a last word to
Benjamin)
You should be ashamed of yourself!

And they’re gone… Benjamin left sitting along under the
sheets. There’s a slight sound and he sees Queenie, in
her nightgown, standing in the doorway…

QUEENIE
You are a different child… a man
child. People aren’t going to
understand how different you are.

BENJAMIN
(forlorn)
What’s wrong with me, Mother?

QUEENIE
God hasn’t said yet. Now, back to
bed and behave yourself.

He crosses up the back stairs with the aid of his cane,
and Mr. Oti, like a spectre, is sitting on one end of the
back steps smoking a cigarette, drinking form his flask.
He looks at Benjamin as he goes by.

(CONTINUED)

44.

60 CONTINUED: (3) 60

NGUNDA OTI
(takes a drink)
You get used to it…

QUEENIE (V.O.)
(shouts)
You get back in that bed or I’ll
cane your old ass!

Benjamin turns down the hallway and slips into the
bedroom —

61 INT. BEDROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – LATE NIGHT, 1930 61

Benjamin climbing back into bed with the Old Man.
Turning his back to the old man. And Mr. Daws, unable to
sleep…

MR. DAWS
Did I ever tell you I’ve been
struck by lightning seven times.
Once, when I was fixing a leak on
the roof.

And we see just that, the old man on a roof getting
blasted.

MR. DAWS (CONT’D)
Once, when I was crossing the road
to get the mail…

And we see that, the man peacefully crossing a country
road to get the mail, getting hit by lightning… But
Benjamin just lays there looking out the window… all he
can think about… despite everything…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I never forgot her blue eyes…

62 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 62

The words linger. Daisy, her extraordinary blue eyes,
lying on her death bed… the rattle of the window in the
wind…

CAROLINE
Are you alright, Mother?

She nods “yes.”

(CONTINUED)

45.

62 CONTINUED: 62

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
This man. He loved you from the
first time he saw you.

She doesn’t say anything.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
(without complaint)
Nobody has ever loved me that way.

DAISY
(impelling her)
Go on.

CAROLINE
He crossed out something… and
then he’s written… “When…”

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“…When the baby came things were
different…”

63 INT. THE KITCHEN, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, 1931 63

We see Benjamin in his pajamas, quietly coming into the
kitchen for something to eat… And he slows, seeing
Queenie, taking a moment to herself, sitting at the
kitchen table, peacefully breast-feeding her infant… as
Benjamin slips back out unseen, closing the door after
him…

64 INT. ATTIC, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, 1931 64

We see Benjamin lying on a small bed in the ATTIC…
cluttered with years of accumulated things…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I moved into my own room in the
attic… I realized, despite a
house filled with people that I
loved, I was alone…

There’s a noise. And we see Ngunda Oti is at the door, a
suitcase in hand.

NGUNDA OTI
I come to say goodbye. I’m going
away.

BENJAMIN
Going away? Where?

(CONTINUED)

46.

64 CONTINUED: 64

NGUNDA OTI
I don’t figure that out yet. I
will send you a postcard when I
get to there.

BENJAMIN
What about your friend? The tall
lady?

NGUNDA OTI
We’re not friends anymore. That’s
what happens with tall people.

He starts to go…

BENJAMIN
Goodbye…

And he’s gone. Benjamin gets up going to the window.
He looks outside. He can see Mr. Oti come onto the
porch. There’s a full moon. And as he walks off, his
arrogant little walk, suitcase in hand, going out the
gate, Benjamin watches him disappear into the night.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I spent a lot of time by myself
that year…

65 INT. FRONT ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, 1931 65

Benjamin sitting at a table, an old man to look at but no
more than twelve, busy playing with magnets…

BENJAMIN (V.O)
Until…

We see a refined, genteel OLD WOMAN, wearing a hat and
gloves, a suitcase at her feet, flanked by an old DOG,
just inside the front door…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Hello…

THE WOMAN
I’m moving in today.

And just then Queenie appears, the baby on her hip…

QUEENIE
Welcome… we was expecting you…
(to Benjamin)
Could you show her upstairs?
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

47.

65 CONTINUED: 65
QUEENIE (CONT’D)
She will be staying in Mrs.
Rousseau’s old room. I’ll be
right with you with some fresh
towels…
(frowning)
We don’t usually let dogs in the
house.

THE WOMAN
He’s as old as the hills. Blind
too. Can hardly get around, he
won’t be a bother much longer.

Benjamin, like any young boy, immediately pets the old
dog…

QUEENIE
I guess as long as he stays out
from underfoot.

Benjamin helps her with her bags showing her up the
stairs…the old dog dutifully following them…

BENJAMIN
I’m Benjamin…

The woman starts to tell him her name… but we don’t
hear it because…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
(after a beat)
As hard as I try, I can’t remember
her name. Mrs. Lawson, or Mrs.
Hartford, or maybe it was Maple?
It’s funny how sometimes the
people we remember the least, make
the greatest impression on us.

66 INT. THE OLDER WOMAN’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 1931 66

Benjamin sits petting the dog while the Woman puts her
things away…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I remember she wore diamonds…
and she always dressed in fine
clothing as if she was going out.
Although, she never did and nobody
would ever come to visit her.

48.

67 INT. NOLAN HOUSE, PARLOR – VISITING DAY, 1931 67

We see the Woman dressed nicely, sitting in a chair
reading a book. She takes a look out the window at the
families on the lawn and bends back to her book.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
…She taught me how to play the
piano…

68 INT. PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER NIGHT, 1932 68

The Woman sitting with Benjamin teaching him how to play
piano…playing a classical piece like Chopin…Benjamin
trying his hand…sounding pretty bad…

THE WOMAN
It isn’t how well you play, it’s
how you feel about what you’re
playing. (whispers) Try this.

And she plays a ragtime piece…New Orleans music…music
for the other whole part of the soul… Benjamin tries
his hand and actually plays it fairly well

THE WOMAN (CONT’D)
You cannot help but put your
entire self into the music.

And he plays along with her…a piece he won’t soon
forget…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
There were many changes going on,
some you could see… some you
couldn’t.

69 INT. A BATHROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, 1932 69

We see Benjamin taking a bath. An he notices a single
gray hair floating on the surface…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Hair, had started growing, in all
sorts of places…

And he sees some hair is under his arms… and as he
looks downward…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Along with other things…

(CONTINUED)

49.

69 CONTINUED: 69

Benjamin, naked, looking at himself in a mirror… like a
young teenage boy…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I felt like I could do anything,
that I could sprout wings…

And as he flexes his muscles, feeling like a man.

70 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 70

It’s started to rain, the wind blowing, splattering rain
against the window. Knocking.

DAISY
Oh, darlin’, the pain…

CAROLINE
I’ll get the nurse…

She hurries out of the room. Daisy looks out the window.
The maelstrom of wind and rain. Caroline comes back with
a Nurse.

THE NURSE
You’re not feeling too good?

She adjusts the morphine drip. Daisy lays back.

THE NURSE (CONT’D)
Nobody seems to know whether to
stay or leave. The roads are
filled from New Orleans to Baton
Rouge already. I think I’m gonna
ride it out.
(finishing with the
drip)
There, that should make things
easier.

Daisy starts to feel the effects of the drip…

THE NURSE (CONT’D)
(to Caroline)
Have you had a chance to say your
goodbyes?

Caroline nods. The Nurse nods.

THE NURSE (CONT’D)
My father waited four hours for my
brother to get here from Boger
City. He couldn’t go without him.

(CONTINUED)

49A.

70 CONTINUED: 70

She affectionately touches Daisy’s cheek.

THE NURSE (CONT’D)
She seems like a sweet woman.

Caroline nods.

CAROLINE
I haven’t spent as much time as I
would have like with her the last
few years.

Another NURSE looks in…

THE WOMAN
You busy?

The Nurse quickly goes out of the room. Caroline sits
back down looking at her mother…Daisy opens her eyes…
they look at each other… Caroline knowing Daisy wants
to hear the sound of her voice…

CAROLINE
(taking up the book)
The next page says…

Daisy shuts her eyes…

(CONTINUED)

50.

70 CONTINUED: (2) 70

BENJAMIN (V.O.)
…Queenie would let me go with
Mr. Daws to Bridge City..To watch
the boats go up and down the
river…

71 EXT. THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER – DAY, 1932 71

The busy docks… Men waiting, hoping to find work…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
These were hard times… people
were doing anything they could to
find work…

And we see Benjamin, with Mr. Daws, “the lightning man,”
sitting on a bench with a line of other old men, “killing
time,” watching the boats going up and down the River…

MR. DAWS
Did I ever tell you I was struck
by lightning seven times? Once,
when I was in a field tending to
my cows.

And we see just that, Mr. Daws, along with a cow of his,
being hit by lightning.

A MAN’S (V.O.)
(shouts)
My fourt’ hand didn’t show up…
Anybody want to make $2 for a
day’s work around here…

Benjamin turns… And he sees a man in his late 40s with
his three man crew, standing on the deck of a TUGBOAT,
and old rusted tug built out of charcoal iron… The man,
its Captain MIKE… Has a thick Irish accent… For some
reason none of the able-bodied men needing work
respond…

CAPT. MIKE
What’s wrong, nobody wants to get
their hands dirty…! Nobody wants
to do an honest days work for an
honest day’s pay…!

A MAN
(warning them)
He never pays… He always says
he’ll have to owe it to you…

(CONTINUED)

51.

71 CONTINUED: 71

CAPT. MIKE
Are all you afraid of workin’ for
a livin’? Somebody got to want a
job…

Benjamin suddenly springs up at the opportunity, waving
his arms…

BENJAMIN
I do…!

CAPT. MIKE
You got your sea legs old man?

BENJAMIN
(feeling his legs)
I do. I think.

CAPT. MIKE
That’s good enough for me! Get
your ass on board, we’ll sure as
hell find out!

And as Benjamin gets on the boat, heading out to sea…

72 EXT. TUGBOAT, MISSISSIPPI RIVER, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1932 72

And we see Benjamin “learning the ropes…” Helping to
tow the freighters, into and out of the River ports…
Benjamin in this element, like a boy, his hair blowing,
thrilled to be on the boat, thrilled by the adventure…
willing to do anything…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I was as happy as I could be… I
would do anything…

CAPT. MIKE
I needs a volunteah.

BENJAMIN
Yes, Captain!

CAPT. MIKE
(motioning)
Scrape off this bird shit.

BENJAMIN
Right away, sir…!

And he hops to it… Happily scraping off the bird
shit… Happy to be doing anything…

(CONTINUED)

52.

72 CONTINUED: 72

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And I actually was going to be
paid for something I would have
done for free.

CAPT. MIKE
I’ll put you on the books… pay
you next time around…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
His name was Captain Mike Clark…
He’d been on boats since he was
seven…

73 INT. TUGBOAT WHEELHOUSE – END OF ANOTHER DAY, 1932 73

Mike’s a hard drinker, God’s last angry man… He’s
drinking as they go in for the night… Benjamin sitting
with him in the wheelhouse… Capt. Mike jawing away…

CAPT. MIKE
… What were you born to do, old
timer?

BENJAMIN
I haven’t found out yet.

CAPT. MIKE
You haven’t found out yet?! How
old are you, Benjamin, seventy
somethin’ or other?

BENJAMIN
Not as old as I look.

CAPT. MIKE
(laughs)
Tha’s a good one…” You older
than Hades you creaky old bastard!
What the hell you been doing with
your life?

BENJAMIN
It’s a short story…

CAPT. MIKE
Can you still get it up?

BENJAMIN
(doesn’t understand)
I do every morning.

(CONTINUED)

53.

73 CONTINUED: 73

CAPT. MIKE
The old pole? The hard’n? Can you
still get it up?

BENJAMIN
(not so sure)
I guess.

CAPT. MIKE
When was the last time you had a
woman, you creaky old bastard…?

BENJAMIN
Never.

CAPT. MIKE
Never!

BENJAMIN
Not that I know of.

CAPT. MIKE
(can’t believe his
ears)
You been on this earth for more
than seventy years and you never
got any?! That’s the saddest
thing I ever heard in my life.
Never?

BENJAMIN
Never.

CAPT. MIKE
Well, then, hell man, you comin’
with me!!

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
He took me to meet some friends…

74 INT. A CLUB, THE FRENCH QUARTER – NIGHT, 1932 74

Music playing loud… We see Benjamin and Capt Mike at
the bar… Mike, hammered…

CAPT. MIKE
You din’t say? What did your
father do?

BENJAMIN
I never met my father.

(CONTINUED)

54.

74 CONTINUED: 74

CAPT. MIKE
You’re a lucky bastard! All
father’s want to do is hold you
down!.. Out on my father’s boat,
working da two-a-days… This
littl’ fat bastard, “tug Irish,”
what they calls them. They say
the Irish the only one’s stupid
`nough to work a tug. Them and
the Portuguese, as we all know how
stupid them Portuguese is. I
fin’ly get up the nerves and tell
him… “I don’t wanta spend da
rest of my life on a goddamn
tugboat…!” You know what I’m
sayin’?

BENJAMIN
You didn’t want to spend the rest
of your life on a tugboat.

CAPT. MIKE
Absolutely, damn right! So you
know what my father says? He says
“Who the hell you think you are?”
“What the hell you think you can
do?” I tell him. “Well if you
askin’ — I want to be a artist.”
He laughs. He says, “If God
wanted you to be an artist he
would made you one.” “God wanted
you to work a tugboat just like
me, and that’s what you goin’ to
do?” “Now, if I ever hear you
mention art again, I’ll throw you
overboard!” Well, I went and I
show him… I made myself an
artist…

And he suddenly takes off his shirt, pulls down his
pants… And we see he’s covered, from head to toe, with
“his artwork,” and incredible array of tattoos…

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
A tattoos artist…! I puts every
one on myself!

And they look it, upside down sideways and backwards…

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
You have to skin me alive to take
my art away from me now! When I’m
dead I’m going to send him my arm!
(MORE)
(CONTINUED)

55.

74 CONTINUED: (2) 74
CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
Don’t let anyone tell you
different! You got to do what you
meant to do! And I happen to be a
god-damned artist!

BENJAMIN
(stating the obvious)
But you’re a tugboat captain.

Which stops Captain Mike in mid rant… And he has no
answer for… His only response is to glare at
Benjamin… A back door opens, a slinky woman coming
in…

THE WOMAN
Captain Mike, we’re ready for you
and your friend…

CAPT. MIKE
Let’s go old timer… Break your
cherry… This one’s on me…

As they go…

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
(reconsidering)
And here’s you pay for today…
Don’t ever let anybody tell you
Captain Mike didn’t give a man
what he deserved…

BENJAMIN
(looks at change he
was given)
I thought it was $2 for a day’s
work…

CAPT. MIKE
“you can’t put a price on
education…”

75 INT. WHORE HOUSE, THE QUARTER, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1932 75

Captain Mike and Benjamin in a small parlor where girls,
both black and white, are sitting around…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
It was a night to remember…

Captain Mike knows just who he wants and moves off with
her… Benjamin left standing, not knowing what to do…
None of the women seem to anxious to be with the old
man…

(CONTINUED)

56.

75 CONTINUED: 75

ONE OF THE WOMEN
He gives me the willies…

ONE OF THE WOMEN (CONT’D)
He’s not for me, no ways…

A thin Girl, maybe 19, of mixed ethnicity, decides to
take a chance…

THE GIRL
How are you tonight, Grandpa?

76 INT. A ROOM, WHORE HOUSE, FRENCH QUARTER – NIGHT, 1932 76

And we see Benjamin and the girl sitting on a bed… And
as she undresses him… First things first… tossing him
a wash cloth…

THE GIRL
Clean yourself up…

He doesn’t know what she means.. Taking the wash cloth he
goes over to the sink and does what he knows how to do,
wash his face…

BENJAMIN
Is that any better?

76A INT. THE ROOM, WHORE HOUSE, FRENCH QUARTER – NIGHT, 1932 76A

She’s pushing him down, hiking up her skirt, all
business…

THE GIRL
Let’s go… Time’s a wastin’…

She climbs on top of him… And instinct takes over…
But Benjamin being just a boy… and this being the first
time, his excitement gets the immediate best of him…

BENJAMIN
Ohhh…!

THE GIRL
(hopping up)
Come by anytime…

She starts to leave… But Benjamin, who likes this an
awful lot…

BENJAMIN
Again?

(CONTINUED)

57.

76A CONTINUED: 76A

THE GIRL
Again?

She looks and sees, sure enough… She climbs back
on…the results are virtually the same if a bit longer

THE GIRL (CONT’D)
My hat’s off to you old timer.

She gets up to go…she’s made it to the door… when
Benjamin says…

BENJAMIN
Again?

THE GIRL
Again?

She slows, turns to look… And sure enough… He’s as
ready as he’s ever going to be… As she looks at him, a
look bordering on amazement…

77 INT. THE ROOM, WHORE HOUSE, FRENCH QUARTER – NIGHT, 1932 77

THE GIRL
What are you, Dick Tracy or
something? I’ve got to rest…

And that’s just what she’s doing… trying to catch her
breath…

BENJAMIN
(in heaven)
Again?

78 INT. PARLOR, WHORE HOUSE, THE QUARTER – LATER STILL, 1932 78

And we see Benjamin, at the door, happily smiling…

BENJAMIN
Thank you…

THE GIRL
(hurting)
No, thank you…

Benjamin, floating on air, hovering, never wants to
leave…

THE GIRL (CONT’D)
Have a nice night…

(CONTINUED)

58.

78 CONTINUED: 78

BENJAMIN
You’ll be here tomorrow?

THE GIRL
Every night, but Sunday…

And she’s finally able to go…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
It sure made me understand the
value of earning a living… the
things it can buy you..

Benjamin turns to leave… we hear footsteps… And we
see a man, putting on a raincoat, coming downstairs from
one of those other rooms… We see it’s Benjamin’s
father… THOMAS BUTTON… Seeing Benjamin he slows…
Benjamin, unaware of who he is, turns and goes out…

79 EXT. STREET, FRENCH QUARTER – LATE AT NIGHT, 1932 79

It’s a rainy night. Benjamin, feeling like a million
bucks, walks along the street, going home… A
chauffeured car pulls alongside him, the window rolled
down… And we see Thomas Button in the car…

THOMAS BUTTON
It’s awful wet out. Can I offer
you a ride somewhere…?

BENJAMIN
That’s very kind of you, Sir.

He gets into the car.

80 INT. THOMAS’ CAR, NEW ORLEANS – LATE AT NIGHT, 1932 80

They drive in awkward silence.

THOMAS BUTTON
My name is Thomas, Thomas Button.

BENJAMIN
I’m Benjamin.

THOMAS BUTTON
(saying the name to
himself)
Benjamin… Yes, Benjamin… It’s
a pleasure to know you.

They shake hands.

(CONTINUED)

59.

80 CONTINUED: 80

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
Would you like to stop and have a
drink, Benjamin?

81 INT. BAR, FRENCH QUARTER – LATE AT NIGHT, 1932 81

A small old bar. Benjamin and his father sitting in the
back… The waiter comes over, deferring to Benjamin’s
age…

THE WAITER
What will it be sir?

BENJAMIN
I’ll have whatever he’s having.

THOMAS BUTTON
A Sazerac for both of us…with
whiskey instead of brandy…

The waiter leaves.

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
You don’t drink do you?

BENJAMIN
It’s a night for firsts…

THOMAS BUTTON
How is that?

BENJAMIN
I’ve never been to a whore house
either.

THOMAS BUTTON
It’s an… experience…

BENJAMIN
It certainly is.
(and honestly)
I’m not very experienced about a
lot of things.

THOMAS BUTTON
That isn’t a bad thing.

BENJAMIN
There’s a first time for
everything.

(CONTINUED)

60.

81 CONTINUED: 81

THOMAS BUTTON
True enough. I don’t mean to be
rude… but your hands seem awful
bent… It must be quite painful?

BENJAMIN
I don’t really know what I have.
I have some form of a disease. I
have a lot of catching up to do.

THOMAS BUTTON
What kind of a disease?

BENJAMIN
I was born old.

Thomas is quiet. And for many things…

THOMAS BUTTON
I’m sorry.

BENJAMIN
(guileless)
No need to be. Nothing wrong with
old age.

THOMAS BUTTON
I’m sorry about your disease.

BENJAMIN
My mother says we’re all born with
something…

THOMAS BUTTON
Your mother?

BENJAMIN
I’m adopted.

Thomas looks at him… They get their drinks… Tap
glasses, and drink. Benjamin coughs at the taste… But
forces it down… And as they laugh at his discomfort…

82 INT. THE BAR – FRENCH QUARTER – LATER THAT NIGHT, 1932 82

Thomas and Benjamin deep in conversation… and both of
them more than a few sheets to the wind… Benjamin,
particularly overblown like any first time drunk…

THOMAS BUTTON
… My wife passed away many years
ago…

(CONTINUED)

61.

82 CONTINUED: 82

BENJAMIN
(slurring)
I’m very sorry.

THOMAS BUTTON
She died in childbirth.

And there’s a moment when it seems like Thomas might tell
him, but despite the alcohol he thinks better of it…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
(toasts, sadly)
To children.

BENJAMIN
(nods, toasts)
To mothers and fathers…

After some moments:

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
What line of work are you in, Mr.
Button?

THOMAS BUTTON
Buttons. “Button’s Buttons.”
There isn’t a button we don’t
make. Our biggest competition is
B.F. Goodrich and his infernal
zippers…

The waiter comes over.

THE WAITER
Would you gentlemen like another?

THOMAS BUTTON
One more Benjamin?

BENJAMIN
If you’ll let me pay for it, Mr.
Button…

He takes out a little of his hard earned pay… proud of
himself…

THOMAS BUTTON
What kind of work do you do?

BENJAMIN
(proud of himself)
I’m a tugboat man.

62.

83 EXT. NOLAN HOUSE – LATE AT NIGHT, 1932 83

The car’s stopped outside the gate… Benjamin is
drunkenly getting out…

THOMAS BUTTON
I enjoyed talking to you…

BENJAMIN
I enjoyed drinking with you…

He starts to wobble inside…

THOMAS BUTTON
(after him)
Benjamin…

Benjamin slows…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
Would you mind, if time to time, I
stopped by to say hello…?

BENJAMIN
(a drunken wave)
Anytime.

THOMAS BUTTON
(happily)
Goodnight, Benjamin.

BENJAMIN
(drunkenly)
Absolutely… Mr. Button…

Benjamin turns inside. Thomas looks after him for a long
moment… And then he drives away…

84 INT. NOLAN HOUSE – LATE NIGHT, 1932 84

Benjamin holding the railing for support starts up the
stairs for bed.

QUEENIE’S (V.O.)
Where have you been!?

And we see Queenie has been sitting in the front room…
where she can see out the window…

BENJAMIN
I listened to some music…. I —

He doesn’t mention the whore… But generically says…

(CONTINUED)

63.

84 CONTINUED: 84

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
I met some people.

And right on cue Benjamin, wobbles…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
I think mama… I’m going to…

And to finish the evening, he throws up.

85 EXT. LAWN, NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, 1934 85

The family’s on the lawn…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I loved the weekends when she
would come and spend the night
with her grandmother.

86 INT. GRANDMA FULLER’S ROOM – DAWN, 1934 86

Daisy, nine now, asleep in bed with Grandma Fuller… We
see Benjamin quietly enter… He gently nudges Daisy
awake…

BENJAMIN
(whispers)
Do you want to see something? We
have to keep it secret.

Daisy, always willing, always brave, gets up…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
(whispers)
Get dressed. I’ll meet you behind
the kitchen…

And he leaves the room as quickly as he came…

87 EXT. BEHIND THE KITCHEN – NOLAN HOUSE – DAWN, 1934 87

Benjamin, in an old peacoat, holding another — waits…
Daisy comes out… as he stops the door from slamming…

BENJAMIN
Ssssh…
(whispers)
Can you swim?

DAISY
I can do anything you can do…

(CONTINUED)

64.

87 CONTINUED: 87

BENJAMIN
Put this on…

He gives her a heavy coat…she puts it on… It’s two
sizes too big for her…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
We have to go fast…

And she follows him between the houses… the two of them
going quickly down the street…

88 EXT. THE DOCKS, MISSISSIPPI RIVER – DAYBREAK, 1934 88

Fog. The first light of dawn. A full compliment of
boats tied up for the night… They scamper along the
dock… to the “Chelsea” …Benjamin helps her climb
aboard…

89 INT. TUGBOAT, MISSISSIPPI RIVER – DAYBREAK, 1934 89

He goes downstairs to find — Captain Mike sprawled
across his bunk — in all his naked tattooed glory, an
empty bottle on the floor…

DAISY
What’s wrong with him?

BENJAMIN
I think he has mejembe.
(shaking him)
Captain Mike… could you take us
out?

Captain Mike opens one eye… sees them standing there…

CAPT. MIKE
You know what day it is?

BENJAMIN
Sunday.

CAPT. MIKE
Do you know what dat mean?

He doesn’t.

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
It means I was very drunk last
night.

BENJAMIN
You’re drunk every night.

(CONTINUED)

64A.

89 CONTINUED: 89

Captain Mike just squints.

CAPT. MIKE
Is that a girl?

(CONTINUED)

65.

89 CONTINUED: (2) 89

BENJAMIN
A close friend… I wanted to show
her the River.

CAPT. MIKE
I’m not supposed to be joy-ridin’
with civilians… I could lose my
license.

That notion stops him for about a nanosecond.

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
(grabbing a bottle)
What you standin’ there for!

90 EXT. THE TUGBOAT, THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER – EARLY, 1934 90

The tugboat making its way through the fog… Benjamin
standing with Daisy on the prow… the wind in their
faces… And suddenly out of the fog a HORN BLARES… As
loud as anything they have ever heard… and moving out
of the mist, horn still echoing, a huge ocean liner
appears… With three other tugboats pushing it to sea…

CAPT. MIKE
She put in for repair… a wounded
duck… She’s flyin’ now…

Captain Mike joins the tugs at the liner’s side… the
tugs sounding horns of their own… a symphony of a
kind… What interests Benjamin…

BENJAMIN
What does it take to build
something like that?

Passengers line the railing… continuing their
adventure… And what interests Daisy…

DAISY
Imagine all the places they’re
going to see…

Daisy, thrilled, waves to them — the passengers along
the rail, waving back… Benjamin stands by Daisy, their
hair blowing in the salty air….

DAISY (CONT’D)
(to Benjamin)
I wish we could go with them…

As they watch the liner, like a foggy dream, sailing
away…

66.

91 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 91

The rain and wind knocking at the window…

DAISY
(murmurs)
I wish we could have…
(the morphine)

CAROLINE
Did you say something, Mother?

And there’s a hint of anxiety in Caroline now… anxiety
coupled with exhaustion… Daisy doesn’t say anything.
Caroline worriedly looks out the window.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
It seems to be getting worse.

Daisy doesn’t respond.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Are you hearing me, mother?

DAISY
Look at that… time just seeped
out of me…

CAROLINE
What?

DAISY
Somebody will come and mop it up
and that will be the end…

Caroline can only listen… She takes a deep breath,
gathering her strength…And when her mother’s settled
again…

CAROLINE
Do you want me to go on reading?

She murmurs, “Hmmm?” as if she didn’t know Caroline had
stopped. Caroline looks back down at the book.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
“Things were changing quickly.”

92 INT. OLDER WOMAN’S ROOM – NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, 92
1935

We see Benjamin’s REFLECTION in a mirror… WE PULL BACK
TO SEE we’re in his friend’s room…

(CONTINUED)

66A.

92 CONTINUED: 92

Benjamin sitting in a straight back chair… getting a
haircut… the dog at their feet… the VICTROLA, as
usual, is working overtime…

(CONTINUED)

67.

92 CONTINUED: (2) 92

THE WOMAN
I don’t know how it’s possible,
you seem to have more hair…

BENJAMIN
(a little arrogant)
What if I was to tell you I wasn’t
getting older — I was getting
younger than everybody else…

And she then says, taking the wind out of his sails…

THE WOMAN
Well, I’d feel very sorry for
you… to have to see everybody
you love, die before you.

He’s quiet, he hadn’t thought of that…

THE WOMAN (CONT’D)
That would be an awful
responsibility…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I had never thought about life or
death that way before…

He’s still… And seeing he’s upset, she says the most
beautiful of things…

THE WOMAN
Benjamin… We’re meant to lose
the people we love. How else
would we know how important they
are to us.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And one fall day… a familiar
visitor came knocking on our
door…

93 INT. NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, 1936 93

We see Benjamin knocking on the Woman’s door…

BENJAMIN
Would you like to go for a walk?

There’s no response. He opens it, going inside… The
Woman is sitting in a chair by the window, the dog at her
feet, the familiar Victrola playing dance music… He
comes around the chair. And he sees she’s still…
perfectly still… her soul moved on…

68.

94 EXT. CEMETERY PLOT, NEW ORLEANS CEMETERY – DAY, 1936 94

We see an old New Orleans paupers’ cemetery… Benjamin
and the mourners, and because he can’t remember her name,
around an unmarked grave…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
She had taught me how to play the
piano.

As Benjamin watches the woman go to her final rest.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
And she taught me what it meant to
miss somebody.

95 INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM, ATTIC – NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 1937 95

We see Benjamin taking some things out of a dresser
drawer, packing a suitcase…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I had gone to a whore house, I’d
had my first drink, I had said
goodbye to one friend and buried
another… In 1937, when I was
coming to end of the 17th year of
my life, I packed by bag.

We see him putting some final things into the suitcase,
closing it…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…and said goodbye…

96 INT. PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1937 96

We see Benjamin moving through the parlor, one by one,
saying his good-byes to the old people…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I knew, life being what it was, I
would probably never see them
again…

The familiar faces… And as we watch him affectionately
touch or talk to each of them… we can just see out a
screen window DAISY, almost thirteen now, leaning against
the side of the house… Out of sight… as if she didn’t
say goodbye, he wouldn’t leave…

69.

97 EXT. THE FRONT PORCH – NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 1937 97

We see TIZZY on the porch holding Benjamin’s suitcase for
him… The woman’s old dog lying beside him…

TIZZY
(shaking his hand)
Good luck, son.

And we see Queenie has come out onto the porch with her
little girl… and he holds Queenie… tears running down
her face…

BENJAMIN
Goodbye, Mother…

He bends to pet the old dog goodbye… He takes up his
suitcase and starts off the porch… going down the
walkway… he hesitates, and opens the gate… moving out
onto the street… When suddenly Daisy is calling him…

DAISY
Benjamin… Benjamin…

She comes running. He stops to let her catch up to
him…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Where are you going?

BENJAMIN
To sea. I’ll send you a postcard.

DAISY
From everywhere. Write me a
postcard from everywhere…

And with so much she wants to say, she can’t say
anything. So she runs away… He watches her go,
watchers her thin legs running back down the street…
and he turns and moves off along the street…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And I went off to sea…

We see him in the distance, the “old man”, a 17 year old,
suitcase in hand, going to find out who he is and what he
is to become…

98 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 98

Daisy’s quiet. Caroline can’t avoid the howling of the
wind.

(CONTINUED)

70.

98 CONTINUED: 98

CAROLINE
(concerned)
I think I should find out what’s
going on…

DAISY
(stops her)
There’s a box of them… in a
velvet bag…

Caroline, not sure what she wants, opens a red velvet
bag… she finds a wooden cigar box…

CAROLINE
Is this what you’re looking for?

DAISY
Looking for?

CAROLINE
You said you wanted this?

DAISY
Of course.

She gives her the box… Daisy, opens it… It’s filled
with postcards… Daisy, going through them…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Can you imagine… He sent me
postcards from everywhere he
went… every place he worked…
Newfoundland… Baffin Bay…
Liverpool… Glasgow…Narvik…

She takes one out, reading it… Taking up some others…
looking… reading where they came from… reading off
like an adventure…

Daisy, the postcards, fond memories spread out on the bed
around her…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Please keep reading, sugar…

Caroline takes another look at the window, then takes up
the book…

CAROLINE
(sitting back down)
“I had gone..”

(CONTINUED)

70A-71.

98 CONTINUED: (2) 98

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“… With Captain Mike’s crew on
the “Chelsea”…”

99 EXT. SOMEWHERE ON THE SEA – DAY, 1937 99

The Tugboat, in the distance, steaming through the
ocean…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Captain Mike had contracted for
three years with Moran Brothers
Tug and Salvage… The old ship
had been refitted with a diesel
engine, and a new sea winch… We
went around Florida and up the
Atlantic seaboard…

100 EXT. TUGBOAT, AT SEA – DAY, 1937 100

The refitted “Chelsea” on the Atlantic Ocean…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
We were a crew of seven now…
Captain Mike and me… the
Cookie… Prentiss Mayes from
Wilmington, Delaware…

And we see an old sea hand in his domain, his GALLEY,
smoking and coughing as he cooks…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…The Brody twins… Rick and
Vic…

Two burly hard working IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHERS…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S(V.O.) (CONT’D)
Who got along fine at sea… but
for some reason, once they were on
dry land… couldn’t stand the
sight of each other…

101 EXT. DOCK SOMEWHERE – DAY, 1937 101

The brothers getting off the tug… and no sooner have
they hit dry land they immediately get into a fist
fight…

(CONTINUED)

72-72A.

101 CONTINUED: 101

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
There was John Grimm, who fit his
name… from Belvedere, South
Dakota…

102 EXT. TUGBOAT, AT SEA — DUSK, 1937 102

We see a dour looking man… who always expects the
worst…

JOHN GRIMM
You know one in every eight boats
never returns, all hands lost at
sea.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
…and Pleasant Curtis who never
said a word to anyone… except to
himself…

The asocial Pleasant… talking to himself as he works…

103 EXT. ATLANTIC OCEAN – DAY, 1938 103

Benjamin standing on the bow of the old tug as it sloughs
through a fog on the high seas… ready to see the world.

104 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 104

Daisy lying in bed…

DAISY
I wrote him constantly… told him
everything I was doing…

105 EXT. HARBOR SOMEWHERE – NIGHTFALL, 1938 105

The tug on its way in for the night… Benjamin, sitting
on a cleat, reading her letter…

DAISY’S (V.O.)
…I told him they had invited me
to New York to audition for the
School of American Ballet…

106 EXT. NEW YORK SKYLINE – DAY, 1938 106

Tilting from the grey sky, onto an old landmark building.

107 INT. LANDMARK BUILDING, DANCE LOFT, NEW YORK – DAY, 1938 107

A large open DANCE LOFT. And we see Daisy, dancing for a
selection committee seated on metal chairs…

(CONTINUED)

73.

107 CONTINUED: 107

Daisy moving with technical proficiency — but it’s
bloodless, without any real distinction… She gets nods –
– but no kudos…

DAISY’S (V.O.)
One of the “corps”… another
dancing gypsy…

We see Daisy training… just another lithe body.

108 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 108

Daisy in bed… Picking up another postcard, she stops,
reading, slowing at a painful memory…

DAISY
Oh. Then he wrote me… “I’ve met
somebody… and I’ve fallen in
love…”

109 INT. LANDMARK BUILDING, DANCE LOFT, NEW YORK, NIGHT, 1941 109

And we see Daisy, sitting on the dance floor reading the
very same POSTCARD, brokenhearted…

A MAN
Places everybody… Once again…

The troupe moves into their places…Daisy still just
part of the crowd… The music starts… Now as Daisy
dances… it is filled with pathos and lost love…and
everyone takes notice.

110 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 110

Daisy reading the very postcard some sixty odd years
later… as if reading it for the first time…

DAISY
“…I’ve met somebody…and I’ve
fallen in love…” My, that was
over…
(and realizing)
…sixty years ago.

She’s quiet, looking out the window…

CAROLINE
Did you love him, mother?

DAISY
What can a girl know about love?

(CONTINUED)

73A.

110 CONTINUED: 110

As she watches the rain on the window, Caroline takes it
as her cue to keep reading…

CAROLINE
(reading)
“…We were working in Murmansk,
Russia…”

(CONTINUED)

74.

110 CONTINUED: (2) 110

Daisy stares at the window, the constant beating rain,
the water running down the window…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Murmansk is on the Barrent Sea,
the only ice-free ocean port in
the Soviet Union…

111 EXT. MURMANSK HARBOR, RUSSIA – DAY, 1941 111

We see “Chelsea” working with other tugs as snow falls in
the crowded Russian Harbor.

They tow a large freighter into port.

CAPT. MIKE
Benjamin…

Benjamin, who is coiling rope on the bow, stands and
looks at the Captain.

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
(squinting down at
him, wanting to
know)
Tell me how’s it happen you showed
up you were no bigger than a
bollard. Now either I drink a
helluva lot more than I think I
do, or you sprouted… What’s your
secret?

And Benjamin, tired of explanations, and what comes first
to mind…

BENJAMIN
Well Captain, you do drink a
lot…

And that makes perfect sense to Mike…

CAPT. MIKE
(taking a drink,
saluting)
Goddamn right I do!

And Benjamin stands on the bow… ready to see the
world…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
We stayed at a small hotel with
the grand name, “The Winter
Palace.”

74A.

112 EXT. MURMANSK STREET, RUSSIA – NIGHT, 1941 112

Snow covers the street outside of a turn-of-the Century
hotel… a front window looks into its lobby… “The
Winter Palace Hotel.”

113 INT. “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – NIGHT, 1941 113

There’s a packed BAR off the lobby… We see Benjamin
sitting with Captain Mike, their crew, and a mixture of
other seamen, Russians and other ethnics, all speaking
different languages, sitting and standing around tables
cluttered with bottles and glasses… Captain Mike,
drunk, his shirt off, is telling a Russian sailor,
another interpreting for him — about a tattoo he has
over his heart… an upside down hummingbird…

CAPT. MIKE
I saws this tattoo puts on a man’s
back in Singapore by Sakumoro, the
greatest tattoo artist ever lived.
I puts it on myself from mem’ry.

And now we know why it’s upside down…

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
This idn’t just anoter bird! Its
heart rate’s twelve hunerd beats a
minute…! Its wings beats eighty
times a second…! If you was to
stop their wings from beatin, they
would be dyin’ in less than ten
seconds…This is no ordinary
bird, this is a frikkin’ miracle!
They slowed down the wings
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

75.

113 CONTINUED: 113
CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
wit’ movin’ pictures, you know
what it showed, they wing tips are
doin’ dis…

And he draws on a napkin a FIGURE EIGHT…

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
Does you know what the figure-
eight is the mathematical symbol
of…?!

Pointing at the symbol…

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
Infinity!

And for some drunken reason, no matter what language they
might speak, they all laugh…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Everybody, no matter what
differences they had, the
languages, the color of their
skin, had one thing in common…
they were drunk every single
night…

Then there’s a shout — and as if to underscore things,
the Brody twins are kicking the shit out of each other
again…

114 INT. LOBBY, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – NIGHT, 1941 114

We see Benjamin waiting for the small caged elevator to
take him to his room. He gets in, the elevator operator
about to shut the grill door…

A WOMAN’S (V.O.)
Would you wait, please…

And we see a WOMAN in her late 40s… getting on the
elevator… Benjamin looks over at her…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Her name was Elizabeth Abbott. She
was not beautiful. She was plain
as paper… But she was as pretty
as any picture to me…

“Plain as paper,” ELIZABETH ABBOTT… Directly behind her
walks a tall, tired man, in his 50s… By the look of his
ruddy face, and her silent mien… they’re both drunk…
Benjamin finds himself looking at her…

(CONTINUED)

76.

114 CONTINUED: 114

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
What are you looking at?

She has a distinctly English accent. Benjamin doesn’t say
a word.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
If you must know, we have a long
standing agreement never to go to
bed sober. Isn’t that right
darling?

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Her husband was Walter Abbott…He
was Chief Minister of the British
Trade Mission in Murmansk… and
he was a spy…

They ride up. Elizabeth has her shoes off…She sees him
noting her stocking feet… The elevator finally rattles
to a stop, and George and Elizabeth get off… Starting
down the hall…she abruptly turns to say to Benjamin…
so that it’s completely understood…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
I broke the heel off of one of my
shoes…I don’t usually walk
around in my bare feet…

And as he watches her saunter along the hallway… the
way drunks do… endeavoring to keep her dignity…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
They were long days there…

115 EXT. MURMANSK HARBOR, RUSSIA – DAY, 1941 115

Benjamin on the tug, but it’s less fun now, not much
adventure, just hard work… Fighting the snow and the
wind, they tow a large freighter into port…

76A.

116 INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM – “WINTER PALACE” – NIGHT, 1941 116

Benjamin, in his small room, cold air blasting through
the windows, looking out the window into the snowy
night…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And longer nights…

He lays on his bed looking out at the dark sky… the
snow falling…

(CONTINUED)

77.

116 CONTINUED: 116

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
One particular night… when I was
having trouble sleeping…

117 INT. “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – LATE NIGHT, 1941 117

Benjamin trudges down the stairs, stepping tentatively
into the empty lobby… He slows, seeing ELIZABETH ABBOTT
in her bathrobe, sitting, alone and lonely… and it’s
not the first time for her…

BENJAMIN
I’m sorry… I can’t sleep…

She’s quiet… She finally looks up… but doesn’t say
anything… There’s an awkward moment…exacerbated by
the stillness of the hotel in the middle of the night…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
I was going to make some
tea…would you like some?

She shakes her head no… He crosses through the empty
bar, into an old KITCHEN… He looks for tea… Puts
water in a kettle… As he watches the kettle boil…
Elizabeth, her arms folded across her chest as if she
were chilled, stands by the door… Benjamin, without
asking, takes a cup for her…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Milk…? Honey…?

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Some honey, thank you.

He finds a large honey jar… and seeing some dead flies
in with the sweet syrup he asks…

BENJAMIN
Do you like flies with your tea?

She smiles…for the first time… A thin smile… He
starts to stir the tea… Elizabeth stopping him…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
You must let it steep for a
minute…

BENJAMIN
Steep?

(CONTINUED)

78.

117 CONTINUED: 117

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Sit. There’s a proper way to make
tea.

BENJAMIN
Where I’m from, they just want it
to be hot.

She doesn’t smile. He gives her a cup of tea… She
cradles the cup… They’re quiet, drinking their
tea…two strangers… After some moments…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
You’re a seaman? I don’t mean to
be rude…but aren’t you rather
old to be working on a boat?

BENJAMIN
There’s no age limit… as long as
you can do the work…

She nods… They’re quiet again. She sits at an old wood
counter.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
You have trouble sleeping?

It’s an invitation to sit with her… He pulls a stool
over sitting across from her…

BENJAMIN
I didn’t know I did… I usually
sleep like a baby. Something kept
me up.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
I never sleep… Well, rarely
anyway…

He doesn’t say anything.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
My father, when he was in his
eighties, was so sure he was going
to die in his sleep… He would
only take naps during the
afternoon… so that death
couldn’t catch him…

BENJAMIN
Did he?

(CONTINUED)

79.

117 CONTINUED: (2) 117

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Did he what?

BENJAMIN
Die in his sleep?

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
He died sitting in his favorite
chair listening to his favorite
program on the radio.

BENJAMIN
(smiles)
He must have known something.

She smiles at the idea… Another one… that goes as
quickly as it’s come… And it’s quiet again…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
My husband’s the British Trade
Minister. We’ve been here fourteen
months… We were supposed to be
going to Peking… but it just
never did work out. It never does
seem to work out. Have you been to
the Far East?

BENJAMIN
I haven’t really been anywhere. I
mean outside different harbors.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Where are you from?

BENJAMIN
New Orleans, Louisiana.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
(pure Elizabeth)
I didn’t know there was another
one.

Which escapes him.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
I’ve never been to America.
Everywhere else. But not America.
Am I missing anything?

BENJAMIN
(simply, guileless)
The Mississippi River.

(CONTINUED)

80.

117 CONTINUED: (3) 117

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And she told me all the places she
had been, and what she had seen…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
I can tell you what bars look like
in places all over the world…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And we talked until just before
the dawn…

118 INT. KITCHEN, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – DAYBREAK, 1941 118

The first hint of daylight…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Thank you for the tea…

She leaves as quietly as she entered… Benjamin remains
standing for a moment…then shuts the light off behind
him.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
…And we went back to our
rooms… to our separate lives…

And as he goes back up the quiet stairs…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
And every night… we would meet
in the middle Of the night…

119 INT. LOBBY, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – DEAD OF NIGHT, 1941 119

Benjamin padding downstairs… slowing… happy to see
Elizabeth, in her bathrobe, sitting in the empty lobby,
waiting for him…

120 INT. KITCHEN, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – BEFORE DAWN, 1941 120

Elizabeth and Benjamin quietly talking…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
A hotel in the middle of the night
can be a magical place…

And we see the empty front desk and tiny silver bell…
The vacant lobby, with its musty old rugs… The open
elevator, waiting… The dining room, with its crisp
white tablecloths.

(CONTINUED)

81.

120 CONTINUED: 120

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
A mouse stopping and running and
stopping…

A mouse crossing the lobby floor doing just that…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
A radiator hissing. A sink
dripping. A floor creaking. A
curtain blowing.

We see and hear it all… All the little sounds, a
symphony, that make up life in a hotel in the middle of
the night… Benjamin and Elizabeth sitting quietly
drinking their tea.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
There is something peaceful, even
comforting, knowing that people
you love are asleep in their beds,
where nothing can harm them…

121 INT. VARIOUS BEDROOMS – DEAD OF NIGHT, 1941 121

Queenie and Tizzy asleep together in her bed… Their
child on the floor… The old people in their beds in the
old house. Ngunda Oti asleep in a room somewhere. The
unnamed woman’s grave. A different kind of sleep. And of
course Daisy, in a New York apartment loft with other
dancers… sleeping peacefully.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Elizabeth and I would talk through
the night until just before
dawn…

122 INT. KITCHEN – “WINTER PALACE” – RUSSIA – DAYBREAK, 1941 122

Daylight starts to creep in… she gets up, about to
go… she slows…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
I may have given you the wrong
impression.

BENJAMIN
The wrong impression?

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
You must think I don’t love my
husband.

(CONTINUED)

82.

122 CONTINUED: 122

BENJAMIN
Why do you say that?

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Married women don’t usually sit
with strange men in a hotel in the
middle of the night. I certainly
don’t.

BENJAMIN
(honestly)
I don’t know what married women do
or don’t do.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Let’s get one thing straight. I
love him very much. I happen to
think he is one of the smartest
and most considerate men I ever
met. It is not his fault I decided
to spend my life in his shadow.

And with that she gets up and leaves… Benjamin, left
with that thought…

123 INT. DINING ROOM, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – NIGHT, 1941 123

Benjamin and Elizabeth in the empty dining room at a
table with a white tablecloth… with some wine and
cheese… She’s laughing now, measurably loosened up…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
He started to take his pants
off… I’m afraid he misread me
completely…

He laughs. She looks through her wine glass at him…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
Do you notice how people look
better through a wine glass…

He holds his up…. looking at her….She moves her glass
just looking at him…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
You’re a good looking man with or
without a wine glass…

She picks at the tablecloth with her finger next to
his… She puts her finger over his making a cross…

(CONTINUED)

83.

123 CONTINUED: 123

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
We are all just crossing in the
night. Sometimes we intersect.

She leaves her finger there for a moment… lingering…
She abruptly moves it away…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
I should go to bed… he’ll be up
soon.

She hesitates… And she kisses him, and then hurries out
of the dining room… As Benjamin sits in the empty
dining room… the kiss left on his lips…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
It was the first time a woman had
ever kissed me. It’s something you
never forget.

124 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 124

The wind and rain knocking at the window. Daisy silently
lying in bed.

CAROLINE
Are you upset, Mother?

She doesn’t say anything. Caroline, seeing her feet have
come out of the covers, caring, fixes her blanket.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Would you like some socks?

Daisy’s quiet.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Do you want me to stop reading?

Daisy’s answer for her is…

DAISY
It must have been very cold. I’m
glad he had somebody to keep him
warm.

Which Caroline takes as her cue to read on…

CAROLINE
(after a beat,
reading)
“I couldn’t wait to see her
again.”

83A.

125 INT. “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – ANOTHER LATE NIGHT, 1941 125

Benjamin comes hurrying down the stairs. Elizabeth is
waiting, as she normally is, but this time she is
dressed… Lipstick and hair done… wearing a fur.

(CONTINUED)

84.

125 CONTINUED: 125

BENJAMIN
(self-conscious)
I’m not dressed —

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
You’re delicious just as you
are…

She laughs, taking his arm, walking to the dining room as
if going to dinner… They sit at a table… which she
has set for them… Caviar and Vodka…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
Don’t bother with the cheese or
the wine here, they’re quite
common… but the caviar and the
vodka are plentiful and sublime…

She feeds him a spoonful of the caviar…Unaccustomed to
it, he swallows it too quickly…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
Take your time… If you eat it
all at once there will be nothing
left to enjoy… savor it…

She gives him another spoonful… and takes one
herself… He takes his time… They both do… savoring
it…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
(pouring)
Now, a swallow of vodka…

Which they do… She laughs… Looking at him…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
You haven’t been with many women
have you?

BENJAMIN
No. Not many. At least none on a
Sunday.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
(smiles)
I feel like I’m with a virgin.

She’s not far off… And it’s a lovely thought… and it
makes her think of her youth.

(CONTINUED)

85.

125 CONTINUED: (2) 125

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
When I was nineteen, I tried to
become the first woman to swim the
English Channel…

126 EXT. THE ENGLISH CHANNEL ­ DAY, 1911 126

And we see just that….Young Elizabeth, in goggles, her
body covered with grease, swimming with two escort boats
across the English Channel.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT’S (V.O.)
The current was so strong…that
for every stroke I took… I was
pushed two strokes back…

And we see just that, Elizabeth fighting the current…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT’S (V.O.)
(CONT’D)
I swam for 32 hours… I was only
two miles from the French shore…

Elizabeth in sight of the lights of Calais…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT’S (V.O.)
(CONT’D)
When it started to rain…

And it starts to rain on her… Harder and harder… the
shore is suddenly gone from sight…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT’S (V.O.)
(CONT’D)
When I couldn’t go any further,
and I just stopped…

And we see her being taken onto a boat, a blanket wrapped
around her…

127 EXT. CALAIS, BEACH – NIGHT, 1911 127

ELIZABETH ABBOTT’S (V.O.)
They asked me whether I would try
again…?

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Why wouldn’t I?

She smiles, a young girl, full of life…

86.

128 INT. DINING ROOM – “WINTER PALACE” – LATE NIGHT, 1941 128

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
I never did. As a matter of fact,
I have never done much of anything
with my life after that…

And it’s quiet. She touches his rough hand.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
Your hands are very rough… you
have grease under your nails…

She runs her fingernail along his face…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
I can feel the wind on your
face…

They look at each other. And this time, Benjamin kisses
her. It lingers… She stops herself…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
I’m afraid it’s the witching
hour…

She quickly gets up… And she’s gone. As Benjamin sits
in the empty dining room.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
It took me a long time to go to
sleep.

129 INT. “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – ANOTHER LATE NIGHT, 1941 129

We see Elizabeth nicely dressed, a bottle of champagne in
her hand, sitting anxiously waiting. The elevator doors
open. Benjamin in a suit and tie, as handsome as we’ve
seen him steps out. She stands, takes his arm.

BENJAMIN
Do I look okay? I borrowed it from
one of the men. It’s his church
suit.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
You take my breath away.

She walks with him, champagne bottle in hand, through the
empty lobby…

(CONTINUED)

87.

129 CONTINUED: 129

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
The thing about clothing is, it
should make you feel comfortable,
then you will be comfortable…
Come, let’s take a walk…

130 EXT. MURMANSK, RUSSIA – DEAD OF NIGHT, 1941 130

Their arms in each other’s, their breath showing in the
night, they walk through the sleeping Russian town, their
shadows in the moonlight. They stop to share a drink from
the champagne bottle. They laugh.

BENJAMIN
I feel so much younger when I’m
with you…

And it seems he’s about to go on… But Elizabeth,
flattered, takes it metaphorically…

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
That’s such a nice thing to say.
You make me feel years younger,
too. I wish I was. I would
change so many things. I would
undo all of my mistakes.

BENJAMIN
What mistakes?

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
I kept waiting, thinking I would
do something to change my
circumstance… Do something…
But I never did… It’s an awful
waste, you can never get it
back… wasted time…

They’re quiet. She looks at him.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
(abruptly)
If we’re going to have an affair,
you’re never to look at me during
the day, we must always part by
sunrise, and we can never say “I
love you…”

He’s quiet…

(CONTINUED)

88.

130 CONTINUED: 130

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
And when it is over I will send
you a card that will simply say
goodbye… Those are the rules…

They stand in the cold. His answer is…

BENJAMIN
Are you as cold as I am?

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
(laughs)
My god, colder.

They stop to finish what’s left of the champagne,
Elizabeth hurling the bottle. The bottle falling silently
into some fresh snow.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT (CONT’D)
You can’t even break a bottle
here.

They look at each other and they kiss. And without
anything else needing to be said, they start back…

131 INT. LOBBY, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – LATE NIGHT, 1941 131

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
Get a key.

Benjamin goes behind the registration desk, taking an
empty room key off a hook… They cross to the
elevator…

132 INT. ELEVATOR, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – LATE NIGHT, 1941 132

They stand in the elevator as it ascends. Anticipating
what’s to come…

133 INT. HALLWAY, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – LATE NIGHT, 1941 133

They move along a dark hallway. He quietly unlocks an
empty room door… And as he follows her into the room…
the door closing.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
She was the first woman who ever
loved me.

89.

134 INT. “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – ANOTHER DAY, 1941 134

Benjamin, in his peacoat, and stocking cap, snow on him,
hurries into the hotel from work… He runs to the
elevator, the doors just closing.

BENJAMIN
Hold it…

It opens. He goes inside. And Elizabeth’s husband is
standing in the elevator.

135 INT. ELEVATOR, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – LATE DAY, 1941 135

They silently ride up, not a word exchanged. The
elevator stops. Elizabeth’s husband gets out. As he
quietly walks down the hall…

BENJAMIN’S (V.O.)
We saw each other every night…
we always used the same room…

136 INT. HALL “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – NIGHT TO DAWN, 1941 136

We see the key going into the door… Benjamin and
Elizabeth going inside closing the door behind them…
leaving us with the quiet hallway.

BENJAMIN’S (V.O.)
But each time seemed new and
different…

And we see them as dawn creeps along the hallway,
Benjamin and Elizabeth, leaving the room, not wanting to
part, passionately kissing, and as they start to go their
separate ways…

BENJAMIN
(whispering)
Elizabeth…

She turns.

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
(whispers)
You should swim the English
channel again.

And as she laughs to herself and hurries off…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Until one night…

90.

137 INT. “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – ANOTHER NIGHT, 1941 137

We see Benjamin coming down the stairs, into the lobby to
meet Elizabeth. And he slows…Elizabeth isn’t there. He
looks into the bar…the kitchen….the dining room… He
goes back to the lobby, sitting on a lone sofa, waiting
for her… A mouse runs across the marble floor, stops,
looks at him and runs off… And he sits and waits.

138 INT. LOBBY, “WINTER PALACE,” RUSSIA – EARLY MORNING, 1941 138

Snow shrouds the windows. We see Benjamin has fallen
asleep on the sofa… There’s the distinctive BELLOW of
Captain Mike’s VOICE. Benjamin wakes… He follows the
bellowing to find Captain Mike with the tugboat CREW in
the bar…

CAPT. MIKE
Roosevelt says we all got to do
our part! After them Japs
attacked Pearl Harbor everyone’s
got to! The Chelsea’s been
commissioned to serve in the
United States Navy, to repair,
tow, salvage and rescue… Anybody
don’t want to go to war, now’s the
time to say so… Once you set
foot on that boat again, you’re in
the Navy friend!

BENJAMIN
(right away)
I’ll go captain!

CAPT. MIKE
Easy old timer.
(to the men)
I’ll hold it against no man. But
speak up now or forever hold your
water.

And the Cook, Prentis Mayes…

THE COOK
I was planning on talking to you
Cap’n Mike… My wife’s doing
poorly. I’d like to see her one
more time…

CAPT. MIKE
(understanding)
You’re free to get home any way
you can Mr. Mayes.

(CONTINUED)

91.

138 CONTINUED: 138

And the cook walks off.

JOHN GRIMM
(always dour)
Who do you intend to have cook
then? One of the leading causes
of death at sea is food poisoning,
right after inadequate safety
equipment.

BENJAMIN
I grew up cooking, sir. I’ll take
the job, if I’m not too old to
serve.

CAPT. MIKE
You a real Johnny on the Spot,
Benjamin. I’ll take any able
bodied mens who wants kick shit
out of the Japs and the Huns.

And with no one dissenting…

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
Then that’s it! We’s goin’ to
war, gentlemen!

And filled with fervor, they give a cheer.

139 INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM, “WINTER PALACE” LATER, 1941 139

Benjamin unlocking the door to his room. An ENVELOPE has
been left under the door, he opens it.

BENJAMIN’S (V.O.)
She had left a note. She wrote,
“it was nice to have met you.”
That was it.

And as he stands holding the letter in his room at the
small Russian hotel:

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And so, I went to war.

140 EXT. TUGBOAT, ATLANTIC OCEAN, SOMEWHERE – NIGHT, 1941 140

The men on the tug on a dark gray sea….

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
It wasn’t the war we expected. We
would tow crippled ships… scraps
of metal…
(MORE)
(CONTINUED)

92.

140 CONTINUED: 140
BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
across the high seas… If there
was a war, we didn’t see it…

And what seemed exciting, the idea of war… is
tedious… The “Chelsea” towing a strange hulking shape
on the dark, empty sea…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
There was a man assigned with
us… The Chief Gunner loved the
Navy, and most of all, he loved
America.

THE MAN’S (V.O.)
There is no other country in the
world…! When YOU spell America,
A.M.E.R.I.C.A. You’re spelling
freedom…!

We see the young Gunnery Mate, no more than nineteen…
sitting at his post on a high caliber machine gun…
ready to kick some enemy ass…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
His name was Dennis Smith and he
was a full blooded Cherokee… His
family had been in America for
over five hundred years.

DENNIS SMITH
You have these pacifists. They
say they won’t fight on
conscience. Where would we be if
everybody decided to act according
to their conscience?

CAPT. MIKE
(out his Window)
Keeps it down, would you chief!

He goes back inside… And as they settle into their
tasks..

DENNIS SMITH
(on his gun, to
himself, the last
word)
Where else can you shoot white
people and get away with it…

Benjamin’s the only one around to hear him…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I worked in the kitchen…

93.

141 INT. THE TUGBOAT KITCHEN – DAY, 1941 141

Benjamin busy preparing a meal in the galley kitchen. The
Perpetually silent Pleasant Curtis, on kitchen duty,
helping him with the preparation… while they work…

BENJAMIN
(trying to make
conversation)
You’re from the Kentucky mountains
aren’t you? It must be pretty
there..

Pleasant Curtis doesn’t say a word. Benjamin shrugging,
puts the pie in an oven.

142 INT. THE GALLEY – TUGBOAT – NIGHT 142

The men; including Dennis Smith, Pleasant Curtis, John
Grimm, the “fighting” Brody twins, Benjamin serving them,
silently eating dinner, rolling with endless rolling
Ocean. Pleasant, not interested, just gets up and leaves.

JOHN GRIMM
There’s something not normal about
him.

As they silently eat, mostly bored…

DENNIS SMITH
(looking outside)
Whoever said “War is hell,”
doesn’t know shit from shinola.

143 EXT. TUGBOAT, ATLANTIC OCEAN — ANOTHER NIGHT, 1942 143

We see “Chelsea,” a steel tow line splayed out from its
winch, towing a large crippled freighter across the
ocean…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
We were towing a British
freighter, that had gone dead in
the water, 800 miles to Halifax
for repair…

We see Benjamin and the crew watching the ship on the tow
line run out some thousand feet behind them…

144 INT. CREW QUARTER, TUGBOAT, ATLANTIC OCEAN – NIGHT, 1942 144

We see Benjamin awake in his bunk, Dennis Smith asleep in
the bunk above him.

(CONTINUED)

94.

144 CONTINUED: 144

Pleasant Curtis seemingly asleep in his bunk below him…
Benjamin looking out at the black sea… and out of the
silence Pleasant Curtis for the first time speaks…

PLEASANT CURTIS
I’ve been watching you. You seem
trustworthy. If something happens
to me… could you see this gets
to my wife…?

He hands Benjamin a folded up handkerchief…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
He had given me all of his pay…
he hadn’t spent a dime of it…

PLEASANT CURTIS
If anything happens I want my
family to know I was thinking
about them, and if I could have,
I’d have come back home.

And that said he turns back over… And as Benjamin looks
at the dark foreboding sea… suddenly:

CAPT. MIKE (OVER)
(calls)
All hands on deck!!!

They bolt from their bunks… Going outside…

145 EXT. TUGBOAT, ATLANTIC OCEAN – NIGHT, 1942 145

Captain Mike stands by the wheelhouse… silently looking
at the ocean… They see bodies of men, dead men,
floating by them… One and two at first… then three
and four… and then more and more until they are moving
through a carpet of bodies…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
The war found us.

As they move through the water… their propeller
literally chopping up bodies, to where they have to
veritably shut their engines down…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
A transport carrying 900 men had
been hit by a torpedo. We were
first to arrive at the scene…

And as the tug arrives at the scene we see a TRANSPORT
VESSEL, with a gaping hole in its midships sinking
quickly… Fuel oil burning on the water…
(CONTINUED)

95.

145 CONTINUED: 145

It’s then we see the true horror of the men in the
water… in the burning black oil… The transport boat
silently slips into the water, disappearing under the
sea…

146 EXT. TUGBOAT – ATLANTIC OCEAN – NIGHT, 1942 146

As the tug moves through the thick black smoke…
Benjamin and the other crewmen watching along the
rails…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
There wasn’t a sound…

Except for the lapping of water, and the tugboat’s
engines, there isn’t… just the silence of death…
Something else appears, doming onto the surface like a
spectre… the U-BOAT that had reeked this havoc…
looking to see the results… Captain Mike sees the
sub…

CAPT. MIKE
(mad as hell)
We can’t run from the fucker and
we can’t hide…! There’s only one
thing we can do…!
(and he shouts)
Battle Stations…!!!

They run to their battle stations…

147 INT. PILOT HOUSE, TUGBOAT, ATLANTIC OCEAN – NIGHT, 1942 147

Captain Mike at the wheel in the pilot house, turning the
tug, furiously bearing down on the surfaced submarine…

148 EXT. TUGBOAT, ATLANTIC OCEAN – NIGHT, 1942 148

A German submariner, on the conning tower, seeing the
Tugboat, turns the .50 caliber machine gun on the
tugboat… Benjamin is grazed by a bullet, his forehead
cut open, bleeding… Despite the strafing the tug is
relentless… The submarine, seeing it is about to be
rammed tries to dive… but it’s too late… the tugboat
ramming the submarine… severing the U-Boat in half. The
concussion of the collision has triggered a torpedo in
the sinking submarine’s torpedo shaft, the torpedo
exploding, bursting the submarine, and in the process,
blasting away under the stern of the tugboat… the men
on the stern blown to pieces… Benjamin’s literally
thrown against the wheel house… He manages to get to
his feet, the tug listing, beginning to sink… There’s a
man’s voice…

(CONTINUED)

96.

148 CONTINUED: 148

And he sees, Captain Mike riddled with bullets, his body
covered with blood… Benjamin bends to him… Captain
Mike trembling as he lays dying…

CAPT. MIKE
Look at what they did! They shot
holes in me! They shots the hell
out my paintin’!

His body, his tattoos, like a ripped canvas, is
riddled…

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
You’ve seen a lot of things. Tell
me it’s going to be alright.

BENJAMIN
You’re going to heaven Captain
Mike. You’re going to heaven.

Benjamin sits beside him, his friend Captain Mike, dying.
And a light comes in Captain Mike’s eyes… an
understanding.

CAPT. MIKE
You can be mad as a mad dawg at
the way things wents… You can
swear, curse the fates, regret
every’ting you ever dids… but
when it comes to the end… You
have to lets go…

He looks in Benjamin’s old eyes….

CAPT. MIKE (CONT’D)
Give me a hand, old man…

And as he holds Benjamin’s hand ready to meet his
maker…

149 EXT. TUGBOAT, ATLANTIC OCEAN – LATE AFTERNOON, 1942 149

There are two destroyers and a hospital ship in the
battle zone flow… Planes circling… The water still
speckled with debris, and bodies…

150 EXT. A LIBERTY SHIP, THE NORTH ATLANTIC – DUSK, 1942 150

We see Benjamin at the railing of a Liberty Ship.. He
watches the “Chelsea” sink, disappearing under the sea…

(CONTINUED)

97.

150 CONTINUED: 150

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
736 men died that day… I said my
goodbyes to the Cherokee, Dennis
Smith, John Grimm who was right,
he was going to die there… I
sent Pleasant Curtis’ wife his
money… I said goodbye to the
twin, Vic Brody…

He instinctively turns, and sees Rick Brody looking out a
porthole, lost without his twin brother…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
And to Mike Clark… Captain of
the tugboat “Chelsea.”

A storage cabinet is opened, a sailor taking out a
wreath, from a supply of just such wreaths…

BENJAMIN
You mind…

The Sailor shrugs, giving him the wreath…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I said goodbye to all the other
men… who had dreams of their
own… All the men who wanted to
be plumbers or singers or
insurance salesmen or doctors…
or lawyers or Indian chiefs.

And suddenly, angrily, he throws the wreath into the
water…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Out here, death didn’t seem
normal.

Benjamin standing at the rail of the ship… no longer a
boy… And a SAILOR standing beside him….

THE SAILOR
This don’t get fixed…

Benjamin’s quiet. When suddenly a HUMMINGBIRD comes
flying across the water… It circles the wreath, the way
Hummingbirds do… and then flies off…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
…I’d never seen a hummingbird
that far out to sea before…

(CONTINUED)

98.

150 CONTINUED: (2) 150

And as Benjamin stands at the railing, looking at the
sea…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
In the spring of 1945…. when I
was 26 years old… I went home…

151 EXT. THE NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – TWILIGHT, 1945 151

We see Benjamin, suitcase in hand, going up the walk to
the old house. We’re struck by the difference… the old
man who had left to see the world has returned a
strikingly handsome man in his fifties. The old blind
dog, smelling ham, ambles off the porch to meet him.
Nothing seems to have changed. An old woman we don’t
know is rocking on the porch. A black girl, just 14… is
hanging out wash…

BENJAMIN
Is your mother home?

THE GIRL
She’s gettin’ supper ready….

He goes up the porch, inside….

152 INT. THE NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – TWILIGHT, 1945 152

Some old folks are in the front room… Nobody we know…
He moves by them into the kitchen… the stovetop smoking
and gurgling… He goes into the dining room… Queenie
is busy setting the table… He watches her for a
moment…

BENJAMIN
(quietly)
Queenie…

She turns, seeing him… she drops a plate…

QUEENIE
Lord have mercy….you’re home…

She runs to embrace him… We see she’s aged… the eight
years he’s been gone… and the 25 years or so since
we’ve known her… now in her fifties…

THE GIRL’S (V.0.)
(asks)
Who is that mama?

The Girl comes inside… curious…

(CONTINUED)

99.

152 CONTINUED: 152

QUEENIE
Your brother, Benjamin…

THE GIRL
I didn’t know he was my brother.

QUEENIE
(laughs)
There’s a shit load of things you
don’t know…

But her interest is in Benjamin….

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
(studying him)
You look like you’ve been born
again… you’re younger than the
springtime… I think that
preacher laid the hands on you
brought you a second life… I
knew the moment I saw you — you
were special… Every night I got
on my knees asking the Good Lord
to bring you back safely. Remember
what I told you…?

BENJAMIN
You never know what’s comin’ for
you.

And they both share a good laugh at her homily… glad to
be together once again.

QUEENIE
Did you learn anything worth
repeating?

BENJAMIN
I saw a lot of things.

She touches the scar, from the bullet, on his forehead.

QUEENIE
You seen some pain.

He nods.

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
Some joy too?

He nods, that too. And she holds him again.

(CONTINUED)

100.

152 CONTINUED: (2) 152

BENJAMIN
Where’s Tizzy?

QUEENIE
Mr. Weathers died in his sleep one
night last April. He’s sleeping
comfortably now in the cemetery on
St. James street, God rest his
soul…

BENJAMIN
I’m so sorry…

She turns from him so as not to cry….

QUEENIE
There’s only one or two of them
left now… They all just about
new… waitin’ their turn like
everybody else… I am so glad to
have I you back. Now we got to
find you some proper work and get
you married right…

And as she goes about readying the table for dinner,
humming to herself…

153 EXT. PORCH, NOLAN HOUSE – EVENING, 1945 153

Benjamin sitting with a row of oldsters. And feeling out
of place, out of time, he gets up and goes inside.

154 INT. PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, LATER, 1945 154

We see Benjamin playing the piano in the parlor, the
particular tune the Woman had taught him… an old man
sitting nearby, seemingly listening… Queenie, looking
in…

QUEENIE
You’re wasting your time… he’s
stone deaf… You’ll be staying in
what was Mrs. DeSeroux’s room now,
you’re too much of a man to stay
in the attic anymore.

She goes about her business… And as Benjamin goes back
to playing the piano for the deaf man… playing for
himself…

155 INT. THE PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, 1945 155

We see Mr. Daws, much older now, asleep in an easy chair.

(CONTINUED)

101.

155 CONTINUED: 155

Benjamin standing at the familiar window, listening to
the silence of the house…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
It’s a funny thing about coming
home. Smells the same. Looks the
same. Feels the same.

Mr. Daws awakens. Seeing Benjamin. As if he never left.

MR. DAWS
Did I ever tell you I’ve been
struck by lightning seven times.
Once I was sitting in my truck
listening to the radio.

And we see just that Mr. Daws sitting in his truck
getting belted by lightning.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
You realize what’s changed, is
you…

While Benjamin stands locking out the window:

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
And one evening, not long after I
had been back…

156 INT. THE NOLAN HOUSE – EARLY ONE EVENING, 1945 156

We see Benjamin, coming down the stairs. He happens to
glance out a casement window… He slows… He can just
see part of a TAXI coming to stop at the gate. He moves
to the next landing…where he can see a figure is
getting out of the cab… The figure of a young woman,
wearing a beret, a dark coat and lace up boots… She
strides through the gate… It takes us a moment to
recognize her… the leggy thirteen year old girl is
gone… replaced by a confident woman in her early
twenties… with her red hair and her blue eyes she could
be no one else but DAISY. Benjamin follows her progress,
moving through the parlor, watching her out the screened
windows… She moves gracefully past the porch with its
swings… The unnamed woman’s old dog, smelling her,
comes to greet her… Daisy going around to the back of
the house… Benjamin moving to the back door, and just
as Daisy starts to knock… Benjamin opening it…
Momentarily startled, she doesn’t recognize him…. and
asks…

(CONTINUED)

102.

156 CONTINUED: 156

DAISY
Oh, excuse me… is Queenie
here…?

BENJAMIN
Daisy… it’s me, Benjamin.

She hardly can believe her eyes…

DAISY
Benjamin…Oh my God it’s you…
Of course it’s you…

They embrace, and there’s a moment when the touch is not
just of old friends, but something different… and they
both, in that moment recognize that things will never be
the same… Daisy, over-hugging him… the way young
people do…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Benjamin, how are you? It’s been
such a long time… There’s so
much I want to know… When did
you come back?

BENJAMIN
Just a few weeks ago…

DAISY
I spoke to Queenie…she told me
you were in the war…somewhere at
sea… I was so worried about
you…

BENJAMIN
(simply)
I’m okay.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
When I had left she was a girl…
and a woman had taken her place…

BENJAMIN
I can’t get over you — You are so
lovely…

DAISY
You stopped writing.

BENJAMIN
I feel terrible about it…
(smiles)
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

103.

156 CONTINUED: (2) 156
BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Now that I see you I feel even
worse… Look at you…Daisy
Fuller…

157 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 157

Daisy’s still. She touches her old face.

DAISY
…Beautiful.

CAROLINE
He said, “The most beautiful,”
Mother.

DAISY
What else did he say about…

CAROLINE
He said…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“…Everything, in that moment,
had changed between us…”

158 INT. BACK STAIRS, NOLAN HOUSE – TWILIGHT, 1945 158

Benjamin and Daisy going up the back stairs…

DAISY
I can’t get over you’re home…
I’ve been planning to come by for
awhile… my grandmother, you
remember Grandma Fuller… of
course you remember her… she
passed away…

BENJAMIN
I heard that… I’m sorry…

DAISY
I’ve been wanting to get some of
her things…

…They go into her grandmother’s room…

159 INT. GRANDMA FULLER’S ROOM – TWILIGHT, 1945 159

Her grandmother’s things are in boxes neatly stacked in a
corner, waiting to be taken away… Daisy starts to go
through them… Benjamin gives her a hand… As they go
through things…

(CONTINUED)

104.

159 CONTINUED: 159

DAISY
I can’t believe I open the door,
and you’re actually standing
there…It must be fate… What do
they call it, “Kismet”? I read a
book about a man named Edgar
Cayce, a psychic, everything is
predetermined…I like to think
it’s fate. What do you think,
Benjamin?

BENJAMIN
I don’t know how it works, but I’m
sure glad it happened…

They inadvertently touch… the electricity of
friction… both aware of the closeness… they move ever
so slightly apart…

DAISY
(nervously)
Have you been to New York…? It’s
just across the bridge from me…
I can actually see the Empire
State Building if I stand on my
bed… Where have you been? Tell
me everything. The last time you
wrote you said you were in Russia?
I always wanted to go to Russia…
Is it as cold as they say…? You
wrote you met somebody… did it
work out…?

BENJAMIN
(holding out)
Remember this?

He’s comes upon the BOOK her grandmother had read to
them, Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So.” She sits on the bed…
Benjamin sitting beside her… the two shoulder to
shoulder… Daisy looking through the book… and
reading….

DAISY
…This is the picture of Old Man
Kangaroo at five in the
afternoon…”

She looks at him.

(CONTINUED)

105.

159 CONTINUED: (2) 159

DAISY (CONT’D)
You don’t look like an old man
anymore…You always said you were
different… I think you must
be…

He doesn’t say anything. The two of them sitting with
their backs to us like the old friends they are…They
touch… acutely aware of their proximity and before it
can go any further…

BENJAMIN
Are you hungry? Would you like to
get something to eat?

DAISY
I would love that…

And the moment’s gone…

160 EXT. A NEW ORLEANS STREET – NIGHT 160

…And we see a taxi door being opened in slow motion…
and Daisy, dressed for the night, glides out… a man
helping her… and we see Benjamin a step behind getting
out of the car… dressed to the nines… hair slicked,
elegant… but nonetheless, a step behind… And we hear
Daisy’s voice, from somewhere else…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
…I danced for a man named
Ballenchine…He’s a famous
choreographer. He said I had a
perfect line. They asked
Ballenchine to describe what he
did. He said, “I’m a carpenter.”
Isn’t that amazing? In one of his
rehearsals a dancer fell. He put
it into the production. Can you
imagine that in a classical
ballet? A dancer intentionally
falling? He isn’t the only one,
Agnes DeMille, Lincoln Kirstein,
Richard Pleasant, Lucia
Chase…There’s a whole new word
for dance now, it’s called
abstract…”

The door to the restaurant held open for Daisy… another
man showing her inside… Benjamin forgotten for the
slightest of moments at the door… going after her.

106.

161 INT. NEW ORLEANS RESTAURANT – NIGHT, 1945 161

A crowded New Orleans restaurant. Daisy as a maitre d in
slow motion is showing her to a table… Men’s, and even
women’s, eyes following her…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
…They have torn up all the
conventions… the straight up and
down style, all the things that
bound dancers…It’s not about the
formality of the dance…the
classical structure…it’s about
what the dancer’s feeling…there
are no rules; the movement can be
tense or relaxed, abrupt or
flowing, carefree or somber, it
may suggest love or hate,
attraction or repulsion. The
unexpected shifts of weight or
energy — not just to shock but to
reinvent tradition…putting the
familiar form to new and
unexpected uses. It’s so basic
Just you alone with your body…

They reach a table… A chair in slow motion swept out
for her to sit… another man in slow motion putting a
napkin in her lap…

DAISY (V.O)
They understand America’s vigor
and physicality — they understand
the freshness of the American
people at their most modern, at
their best.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
And she told me about this world
that she was so attracted to…
names that didn’t mean a thing to
me…I didn’t really hear very
much of what she was saying.

We watch them at the table… Benjamin listening,
appreciating her… her face aglow with the intensity and
the passion of youth… Caviar is brought over…
vodka… She screws up her mouth not wanting to eat… We
can sense he’s telling her, what he’s learned from
Elizabeth Abbott, how to savor it… He feeds her a
spoonful… They drink the vodka washing it down… she
laughs, delighted… And we now hear what she is
saying…

(CONTINUED)

107.

161 CONTINUED: 161

DAISY
(realizing)
Oh my god, I’ve been just talking
about myself…

BENJAMIN
I’m enjoying listening…

She takes out a cigarette… He instinctively looks for
matches, a man gets there first, lighting her cigarette
for her… he watches the smoke curl around her…
appreciating her…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
I didn’t know you smoked…

DAISY
I’m old enough. I`m old enough
for a lot of things….

BENJAMIN
Yes you are…

162 EXT. A NEW ORLEANS PARK – NIGHT 162

We see Benjamin and Daisy, their silhouettes walking
through the park… She puts her arm around his
shoulder… being close to him…

DAISY
I have to go back tomorrow… I
wish I could stay…

They reach a GAZEBO… Not a soul around… They stand
for a moment in the silence…

DAISY (CONT’D)
In New York we stay up all
night… I eat breakfast in a
diner on Houston with red booths
and watch the sun come up over the
buildings… there’s always
something to do…

Which is in stark contrast to Benjamin’s life… Daisy,
takes off her shoes…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Dancers… don’t need costumes or
scenery.

And showing him what she’s been telling him about, she
does a dance for him…

(CONTINUED)

108.

162 CONTINUED: 162

DAISY (CONT’D)
I could imagine dancing completely
naked…

Daisy, dancing for him… While she dances…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Have you read “D.H. Lawrence,” his
books were banned… The words are
like making love….

He stands, hands in his pockets appreciating her… she
moves closer to him… She comes next to him and she
kisses him… and when he doesn’t respond… she tries a
different tact…

DAISY (CONT’D)
In our group… you have to trust
people… not be afraid… Sex…
is a big part of it… A lot of
the dancers… are lesbians… A
woman wanted me to sleep with
her….

He’s quiet.

DAISY (CONT’D)
Does that upset you?

BENJAMIN
Which part?

DAISY
That someone wanted to sleep with
me.

BENJAMIN
People should want to sleep with
you… You’re very desirable…

DAISY
Let’s go back to the house… or
get a room somewhere… we can put
down your coat…

She takes his hand, as if to lead him to the dark of the
park… There’s nothing he’d like more… but…

BENJAMIN
It’s not that I don’t want to… I
just can’t… not tonight….Its
just not…

(CONTINUED)

109.

162 CONTINUED: (2) 162

DAISY
I’m old enough.

And despite how available she is, how desirable she is…

BENJAMIN
Go back to New York, Daisy… Be
with the people you are so fond
of… You can only be young
once…

DAISY
Do you think you are too old for
me… I’ve been with older men…

And when he still doesn’t respond… Daisy, rejected,
takes up her shoes… And she starts off… Benjamin
coming beside her… but they’re not really walking
together anymore… and the time for them, this time, has
gone away…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
You only get so many chances to be
with someone… I let her go…
and I missed it…

163 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 163

Daisy, caught in the distant time…

DAISY
You look so handsome in that
suit… your hair…

A Nurse looks in…

THE NURSE
They’re sayin’ the hurricane’s
going to miss us… blow right on
by…

CAROLINE
Oh, that’s great.

The Nurse goes off down the hall, her voice telling
people the good news…

(CONTINUED)

110.

163 CONTINUED: 163

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Isn’t that good news, Mother?

But Daisy is in still another place and another time…

DAISY
Good news?

CAROLINE
The hurricane. It is going to
miss us.

DAISY
I’ll just stay under the blankets
with my mother. She said nothing
would happen to me.

She looks at the book.

DAISY (CONT’D)
Benjamin?

CAROLINE
Would you like me to keep reading?

Daisy nods.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
(after a beat)
He said, “Things were becoming
different for me…”

164 INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, 1945 164

Benjamin lying on his bed, his glasses on, reading…
“D.H. Lawrence”… We see he’s squinting… We see his
POINT OF VIEW, the print, is blurred… He takes off the
glasses, looks at the print… and it’s clear as a
bell…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
I didn’t need glasses anymore…

And we see Benjamin, naked, standing in front of a full
length mirror, looking at himself, studying himself….

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
My hair had very little gray and
grew like weeds…
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

111.

164 CONTINUED: 164
BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
My sense of smell was keener… my
hearing more acute… I could walk
further and faster…

He can see outside an ambulance has arrived… to take
away another of the old people…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
While everybody else was aging…
I was getting younger… all
alone…

And as he quietly looks at himself… There’s a KNOCK on
the door..

A MAN’S (V.0.)
Benjamin…

He puts something on, and opens the door. And as if to
underscore what he’s just said, he sees THOMAS BUTTON in
his fifties himself now, leaning on crutches, his feet
bandaged, standing in the doorway…

THOMAS BUTTON
Hello, Benjamin… Do you
remember me?

BENJAMIN
Of course, Mr. Button… What
happened to you?

THOMAS BUTTON
My foot was infected… I’m afraid
they had to remove it…
(beat, without irony)
Welcome home, my friend.

165 INT. DELMONICO’S STEAK HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1945 165

The bar and restaurant crowded with men, many with
various kinds of handicaps from the war, drinking away
their demons… And we see Benjamin and Thomas sitting at
a table… thick steaks, baked potatoes, drinks at their
elbows…

BENJAMIN
You’re still drinking Sazerac with
whiskey instead of brandy.

THOMAS BUTTON
I’m a man of habit.

(CONTINUED)

112.

165 CONTINUED: 165

BENJAMIN
(smiles)
Are you still visiting the house
on Bourbon street?

THOMAS BUTTON
(smiles)
Not for a long time.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
I told him about my life… about
my time at war… and he told me
how he had devoted his business to
making buttons for the war
effort…

THOMAS BUTTON
The war has been kind to the
button industry… we had gone
from making forty thousand buttons
a day to making two hundred and
fifty thousand… We employed ten
times the number of workers… We
were operating around the clock…

And he quiets… the sound of the busy restaurant… And
after some moments Thomas tells him…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
I don’t know how much longer I
have to live…

BENJAMIN
I’m sorry to hear that, Mr.
Button.

And it seems like he is about to tell Benjamin the entire
truth… but he can’t bring himself and instead…

THOMAS BUTTON
I don’t have any people. I keep to
myself. I — I’m frightened. I
hope you won’t mind… but
whenever it’s possible… I would
enjoy your company…

BENJAMIN
I’ll do what I can, Mr. Button.

They quietly eat.

(CONTINUED)

113.

165 CONTINUED: (2) 165

THOMAS BUTTON
(after a beat)
Tell me Benjamin, do you know
anything about buttons?

BENJAMIN
Just what holds my shirt on.

166 EXT. BUTTON FACTORY, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1945 166

An old brick building with a painting on its side of a
woman sewing on a button… “Button’s Buttons.” A driver
waits outside of a “town car”.

167 INT. BUTTON FACTORY, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1945 167

We see Thomas unlocking a door.

THOMAS BUTTON
(has been telling
him)
… comes from the French,
“bouton,” meaning a bud, or any
round object…

They come into a corridor. Thomas unlocking another door.

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
They were originally decorative,
jewelry sewn on clothing…

168 INT. WORK FLOOR, BUTTON FACTORY – NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT 168

They walk through the quiet factory…

THOMAS BUTTON
The practice of buttoning
originated in the 13th century…
when baggy clothing was replaced
with more form-fitting clothes…

Thomas, on his crutches…past the lines of work
benches… Mannequins in uniforms of the armed
services… with their various gold and silver buttons…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
Button’s Buttons has been in our
family for one hundred and twenty-
four years. My grandfather was a
tailor. He had a small shop in
Richmond. After the Civil War he
came to New Orleans.
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

114.

168 CONTINUED: 168
THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
My father saw the wisdom of making
our own buttons. The tailor shop
grew to this… And today…
(a smile)
I can’t sew a stitch.

Benjamin is interested, but the obvious question is…

BENJAMIN
It’s all very interesting. But
what do you want from me?

THOMAS BUTTON
I said, our family has been in the
business for a hundred and twenty-
four years.

BENJAMIN
Our family?

And it’s as if he has opened a flood gate…

THOMAS BUTTON
You are my family. Benjamin, you
are my son.

And tears run down his anguished face… Benjamin’s
still…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
I am so sorry not to have told you
before…

Benjamin hasn’t moved. The words ring in his ears.

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
You were born the night the great
war ended… Your mother died
giving birth to you… I
thought… I thought you were a
monster… I left you on the back
steps of a house… I promised
your mother I’d make sure you were
safe… I should never have
abandoned you…

Benjamin’s dead quiet… He looks at this man, his
father…

BENJAMIN
My mother?

115.

169 INT. THE BUTTON HOUSE, THE GARDEN DISTRICT – NIGHT, 1945 169

We see Benjamin and Thomas in a hallway leading to the
kitchen of the large house… The hallway filled with:
photographs of the Button Family. Thomas pointing out
relatives… Family photographs…

THOMAS BUTTON
…A great uncle, from Germany.
(and a group picture)
All of the men in the family at
the Lake House…
(notices the date on
it)
1915, three years before you were
born.

A photograph of an old man sitting in a wooden deck chair
on the dock of a lake.

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
Your grandfather at the summer
house on Lake Pontchartrain. When
I was a boy I would love to wake
up before anybody else and run
down to the lake to watch the day
begin. It was as if I was the only
one alive.

And they’ve come to a young Woman’s photograph… who
could only be Benjamin’s mother. He stops…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
I fell in love with her the first
time I saw her.
(beat)
Your mother’s name was Caroline
Murphy. She was 20. She worked in
your grandfather’s kitchen…She
was from Dublin… Her father,
your maternal grandfather, was a
chimney sweep… He died in the
flu epidemic of 1900… Caroline
came with her mother, two sisters,
and four brothers in 1903 to live
in New Orleans.

They stop at the kitchen door.

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
I would find reasons to go to the
kitchen… just to look at her…

(CONTINUED)

116.

169 CONTINUED: 169

He does just that… Looking through the round window
into the empty kitchen… as if she was there those years
ago… as if she was still there…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
The happiest day of my life was
April 25th, 1918 the day I married
your mother.

They move along the hallway… Benjamin looking at the
photographs… his bloodlines… After some moments:

BENJAMIN
Why didn’t you tell me?

THOMAS BUTTON
I made a mistake.

Benjamin looks at him.

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
Come and take your rightful
place… with your family… with
me…

When Benjamin doesn’t say anything…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
We can catch up for all the lost
time…

And when he still doesn’t answer…

THOMAS BUTTON (CONT’D)
I’m planning on leaving everything
I have to you…

His “bribe” strikes a nerve.

BENJAMIN
I better go.

THOMAS BUTTON
Where are you going?

BENJAMIN
Home.

Benjamin turns his back and walks out.

117.

170 INT. QUEENIE’S ROOM – NIGHT, 1946 170

Benjamin standing by the door, Queenie sitting up in her
bed…

QUEENIE
(unforgiving,
angrily)
He’s what?! All those years he’s
creeping around here, and never
tells us who he is?!! I thought he
was just queer or somethin’ comin’
around here… always askin’ for
you… He left us $18 that night
you was found… Eighteen ratty
ass dollars and a dirty diaper…!
Now he wants to be your father? He
wants you to sit at his side…!
He wants your forgiveness! I won’t
ever forgive him for any of it…
God’s the only one that can
forgive him!
(finished)
Now I got to get up early with
Mrs. Hamilton… or she gonna
drown…
(but not finished)
…He thinks he can just show up,
and everything gonna be fine and
dandy, everybody gonna be
friends… He got another thing
coming…

And with that she turns over, to go back to sleep,
Benjamin quietly leaves the room.

171 INT. THE NOLAN HOUSE – BACK STAIRS, HALLWAY – NIGHT 171

He climbs the back stairs to his room, as if he’s
carrying a terrible burden… as he comes onto the
hallway, Mr. Daws is sitting on a bench in the hall…
Seeing Benjamin…

MR. DAWS
Did I ever tell you I was struck
by lightning seven different
times. Once, I was walking my dog
along a country road.

And we see just that, when suddenly he’s struck by
lightning. The dog, unharmed, licking his face.

(CONTINUED)

118.

171 CONTINUED: 171

MR. DAWS (CONT’D)
I’m blind in the one eye…I can’t
hardly hear…I get twitches and
shakes out of nowhere… I lose my
line of thought… but you know
what… God, for some reason,
keeps on sending me a wake-up…
It’s His way of reminding me I’m
lucky to be alive…
(a beat, sniffs the
air)
Storm’s comin’.

And gets up and pads off into his room. Benjamin, left in
the hallway…He goes over to look out the window, like
the boy we remember looking out at the street lights…
the street…

172 EXT. THOMAS BUTTON’S HOUSE – MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT 172

We see Benjamin being let in by a Butler into the
fashionable home.

173 INT. THOMAS BUTTON’S HOUSE – MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT 173

Benjamin in the dark hallway, quietly walking among the
photographs of “his” family. He goes up the staircase. He
goes to his father’s room. He quietly opens the door. The
room’s dark, his father asleep. He goes to his father’s
bed. His father’s frail figure.

BENJAMIN
(whispers)
Thomas…

Thomas awakens…seeing Benjamin…

174 EXT. THOMAS BUTTON’S HOUSE – MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT 174

We see Benjamin wheeling his father in a wheelchair out
of the house…And…

175 EXT. LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN, LOUISIANA – SUNRISE 175

The endless lake. And we see Mr. Button’s chauffeured car
driving along the lake.

176 EXT. THE BUTTON SUMMER HOME, LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN – SUNRISE 176

The car’s stopped at a chain across the driveway of an
old summer home. Benjamin helps to put Thomas into his
wheelchair. He wheels him up the long drive to the house.

(CONTINUED)

119.

176 CONTINUED: 176

All closed up. Shuttered. There are steps that lead down
to the lake. He starts to wheel his father down the
steps. The steps are too steep for the wheelchair.
Benjamin reaches, picking his father up out of the chair.
He carries him down the steps, but that too is arduous…

And he puts his father on his back…His father holding
onto his son, as Benjamin carries him on his back down
the steps to the dock. There’s an old wooden deck chair.
He helps his father sit in the chair. And as his father
sits for the last time, watching the lake…

THOMAS BUTTON
Thank you, Benjamin.

Benjamin sitting at a distance behind him…Both of them
watching the day begin…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
You can be mad as a mad dog at the
way things went…You can swear,
curse the fates, regret everything
you ever did… but when it comes
to the end… You have to let
go…

And as his father shuts his eyes, sitting in the sun.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
I buried him in the Button family
plot.

177 EXT. AN OLD CEMETERY, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1946 177

We see Benjamin standing at his father’s gravesite in the
family plot, with ornate headstones…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I had a tailor sew onto his best
coat — a button for every year of
his life….fifty-five of them…
all different, pearl and silver,
brass and wood… in case he lost
one along the way…

And as he stands at the gravesite… He hears something.
Queenie has come to be with him…to comfort him…

QUEENIE
(why she’s here)
Don’t you suffer alone for it.

She takes his arm, always there for him.

(CONTINUED)

120.

177 CONTINUED: 177

QUEENIE (CONT’D)
(looking around)
It’s a beautiful cemetery… And
buried here right next to your
mother.

BENJAMIN
(looks at her)
His wife.

And as they stand at the gravesite…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
I went to pay a visit to the
button factory.

178 INT. BUTTON FACTORY, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1946 178

We see Benjamin with an elderly woman, MS. SANDERSON,
standing at the railing of a mezzanine above the factory
work floor… looking down upon the workers, exclusively
women, and exclusively white women, making buttons…The
women, seeing him, look up, and there’s a sudden hush…

BENJAMIN
My name is Benjamin, Benjamin…
(for the first time)
Button…

They stare up at him…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
As you know, my father…

It still sounds strange to him.

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
…My father, Thomas Button…
recently passed…

After a moment:

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
He asked that I take over the day
to day operation of Button’s
Buttons.

They silently stare up at him….

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Well, I don’t know the first thing
about buttons…and I don’t know a
thing about business…
(MORE)
(CONTINUED)

121.

178 CONTINUED: 178
BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
(after a beat)
Button’s Buttons has been in my
father’s family for over 100
years. It could not have survived
without people like you. My father
asked me to tell you how much he
appreciated the hard work you put
in for him and his company for so
many years.

Dead still… And after a moment;

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
I have decided that all of you —
his loyal employees, will have a
share, depending on your length of
employment, in the ownership of
this factory, his legacy.

ONE OF THE WOMEN
We’re the owners now?

BENJAMIN
That’s about it.

They’re literally dumbfounded.

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Mrs. Sanderson will explain how
everything works and will answer
any of your questions…

And with that he turns, walking away…Having “given away
the store”… the workers in disbelief looking up at
him…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And I went to New York.

179 EXT. NEW YORK CITY — NIGHT, 1947 179

We see a cab pull up and Benjamin, in a nice suit,
flowers in hand, daisies, gets out, hurrying into The
Majestic Theater, the marquee telling us “CAROUSEL,” is
performing.

180 INT. THE MAJESTIC THEATER, NYC – NIGHT, 1947 180

Benjamin, coming in late, being shown to his seat. And we
see the production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical
“Carousel,” with Mielziner’s seminal stage design, as
choreographed by Agnes De Mille… And we see the dancer
is Daisy…dancing with the man of her dreams, the “bad
boy” carnival barker… while Benjamin watches her.

122.

181 INT. BACKSTAGE, THE MAJESTIC THEATER – NYC – NIGHT, 1947 181

We see Benjamin, flowers in hand, making his way through
a crowded backstage corridor filled with friends and well-
wishers giving cast members congratulations. He comes to
the door… to the attention of a STAGEHAND…

BENJAMIN
I’m a friend of Daisy’s…

The man matter-of-factly opens the door… A dressing
room crowded with dancers changing out of their
Costumes… He calls out…

THE MAN
Daisy has company…

We can hear Daisy’s name being said…Benjamin waiting…
He sees Daisy, in a robe, coming through the room….

DAISY
Somebody’s looking for me?…

…And she sees it’s Benjamin. And rather than excited to
see him… She’s startled he’s there… and not
altogether pleased about him showing up…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Benjamin… What are you doing
here?

And he realizes, as most of us have in one love affair or
another, whatever his expectations may have been, his
fantasy, is not the reality…

BENJAMIN
I thought I’d come visit… spend
some time with you if I could…

DAISY
I wish you would have called…
You caught me by surprise.

He gives her the flowers, the daisies.

BENJAMIN
I couldn’t take my eyes off of
you… you were mesmerizing…

DAISY
That’s so nice of you to say…
These are lovely… Thank you…

(CONTINUED)

123.

181 CONTINUED: 181

There’s an awkward moment… and…

DAISY (CONT’D)
I better get changed… a group of
us are going to a party… would
you like to come…?

BENJAMIN
Somebody told me about a
restaurant I thought you might
enjoy… I made a reservation…
Just in case —

DAISY
(awkwardly)
…all the dancers go out together
after the show… You’re welcome
to come with us… There’ll be all
sorts of interesting people… Let
me get changed.

And she runs back inside the dressing room… Benjamin
left to stand in the hallway….

182 INT. A NEW YORK LOFT – NIGHT, 1947 182

A loft elevator opens depositing Benjamin and Daisy along
with a bunch of people into a large loft… crowded with
her friends, dancers and show people, musicians,
predominantly young people, straight and gay, beatniks
before there were beatniks, bohemians… Music playing…
People pressed together, having to shout to talk…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And I met her friends…

DAISY
I’ll get you a drink…

As she turns to a kitchen to get him a drink, she is
startled as a young man, DAVID, suddenly grabs her,
kissing her, a kiss that’s not intended to be platonic…
Daisy obviously involved with him… but embarrassed by
the intimacy in front of Benjamin and not wanting to hurt
his feelings… she pulls awkwardly away from him…

DAISY (CONT’D)
This is my friend David… David
dances with our company too…
This is the man I’ve told you
about, Benjamin…

They shake hands… Daisy, wanting to escape.

(CONTINUED)

124.

182 CONTINUED: 182

DAISY (CONT’D)
I’ll get you that drink. – –

…she goes into the kitchen…

DAVID
You were her grandmother’s friend
or something like that…?

BENJAMIN
Something like that.

And Daisy comes back out with a drink for him… and one
of her own… But before she can give him his drink, a
woman takes it from her… and starts to dance with
her… but not with her… the way dancers do… and many
of the dancers are dancing just because they feel like
it… David, comes to dance with Daisy… Benjamin
standing watching Daisy dancing with him… as only
dancers can… in complete control of their bodies and
yet totally uninhibited… Benjamin sees David kiss
her… and his jealousy getting the best of him, he turns
and leaves…

183 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 183

Daisy in her turban… listening to Caroline read..

DAISY
(whispers)
I knew I’d hurt you… Maybe I
intended to…

184 EXT. NEW YORK STREET – NIGHT, 1947 184

Benjamin on his way out of the apartment coming along the
street. Daisy running after him…

DAISY
I did what you told me to… enjoy
my life… I’m only going to be
young once… I had no idea you
were coming. What did you think I
was going to do…? You can’t
expect me to just drop everything,
Benjamin… this is my life…

And we see DAVID and a group of her dancer friends have
come outside down the way into the street… looking for
cabs…

(CONTINUED)

125.

184 CONTINUED: 184

DAVID
(to Daisy)
There’s a party downtown we’re
going to…

DAISY
(conflicted, to
Benjamin)
Why don’t you come with us,
Benjamin… There’ll be a lot of
musicians, interesting people
there…. You’ll have a good
time…

BENJAMIN
I came here to tell you I made a
mistake before…A day doesn’t go
by that I don’t regret it…It’s
not the way I felt…I should have
never let you go…I came because
I hoped I could be with you…

DAVID
Daisy, you going to come…?

Cabs have pulled up… She’s torn… between her life and
some other life… Benjamin, recognizing her conflict…

BENJAMIN
Do you love him?

185 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 185

Daisy in bed…

CAROLINE
Did you Mother?

Daisy snaps back to the reality of the room… Starts to
put the pieces together…

186 EXT. THE MANHATTAN STREET – NIGHT, 1947 186

DAISY
I think so. I think I do.

We see the dancers scrambling getting into the taxis…

BENJAMIN
(understanding)
Okay. Okay… I’ll see you in New
Orleans…

(CONTINUED)

126.

186 CONTINUED: 186

He turns to go… she’s motionless, caught between the
two worlds… And we expect her to yell after him, to
stop him… But instead, she does what we all do in these
moments, what feels good at the time… She runs to be
with her friends… She gets into a taxi… The cab
drives by him as they leave… Daisy turned to look out
the back window… looking back at him… He waves…
letting her go… And another chance for them is
missed… The street’s quiet. And hands in his pockets, a
middle-aged man going on 26… he walks off into the
night…

187 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 187

DAISY
(remembers)
He came to tell me his father had
died.

CAROLINE
You couldn’t have known.

DAISY
I was 23…I just didn’t care…

She’s quiet with her thoughts… and, remembering, she
hums to herself some distant memory of music…

DAISY (CONT’D)
…There are some photographs I
think… the zipper part of the
large bag…

Caroline goes to the suitcases… she comes back with a
manila envelope… Daisy dumps them out…and we see
they’re photographs of Daisy dancing at the height of her
abilities…

CAROLINE
I’ve never seen these… You never
talked about your dancing very
much…

Daisy looks at the photographs…

DAISY
I was as good as I was ever going
to be. For five years… I danced
everywhere… London, Prague,
Vienna, and I was the only
American invited to dance with the
Bolshoi… It was glorious…

127.

188 EXT. MOSCOW STREET – NIGHT, 1952 188

And we see Daisy, five years older, her arm inside a tall
young blond Russian dancer’s, ANITOLY, crossing a snowy
street in Moscow…

DAISY (V.O.)
But Benjamin was never far from my
thoughts…

189 INT. MOSCOW APARTMENT – NIGHT, 1952 189

Daisy in bed, the young Russian dancer Anitoly lying
beside her, asleep… Daisy, looking off…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
I’d find myself saying…

DAISY
Goodnight, Benjamin…

190 INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, 1952 190

We see Benjamin in bed, turning off the light…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
I’d find myself saying…
(a beat, saying)
Goodnight, Daisy.

And as they both lie in their beds… thinking of the
other…

191 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, THE PRESENT 191

DAISY
What did he say?

CAROL
“Life wasn’t very complicated…”

192 EXT. THE BAYOU, LOUISIANA – DAY 192

We see Benjamin on Tizzy’s old motorcycle riding along
the backroads of the endless swamps known as the bayou –

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
If you want you could say I was
looking for something…

As he rides away…

(CONTINUED)

128.

192 CONTINUED: 192

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Life went on as usual.

193 EXT. THE NOLAN HOUSE – AN EARLY EVENING, 1954 193

Benjamin in work clothes on a ladder, painting some old
window shutters… Queenie opens the window… to tell
him…

QUEENIE
Mrs. La Tourneau just passed away.

Benjamin nods. Queenie shuts the window.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
Until one day…

A Messenger on a bicycle rides up…

A WESTERN UNION MESSENGER
I have a telegram for Mr. Benjamin
Button…

BENJAMIN
That would be me….

He comes down the ladder. The Messenger gives him the
telegram and getting his tip, rides off, Benjamin opens
the telegram.

194 EXT. A STREET IN PARIS, FRANCE – DAY, 1954 194

We see Benjamin, carrying a suitcase, running along a
street in Paris… looking for an address… He stops, in
front of an old HOSPITAL… runs up the stairs…

195 INT. A HOSPITAL, PARIS, FRANCE – DAY, 1954 195

Benjamin crosses an old tile floor to a reception desk…
He asks for Daisy… a Woman calls up for him…

THE WOMAN
It will just be a minute… please
have a seat…

Benjamin sits in the waiting room.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
Sometimes we are on a collision
course and we just don’t know
it… Whether it’s by accident or
by design, there’s not a thing we
can do about it…
(MORE)
(CONTINUED)

129.

195 CONTINUED: 195
BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
A woman in Paris was on her way to
go shopping…

AND WE WILL SEE JUST WHAT HE IS DESCRIBING…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
But she had forgotten her coat…
and went back to get it… And
when she had gotten her coat the
phone had rung… and so she had
stopped to answer it… and talked
for a couple of minutes…

And we see just that,..

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
And while the woman was on the
phone; Daisy was rehearsing for
that evening’s performance at the
Paris Opera House…

And we See Daisy, in her late twenties now, at the peak
of her abilities, rehearsing for that evening’s
performance…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
And while she was rehearsing…
the woman, off the phone now…
had gone outside… to get a
taxi…

The Woman standing in the street, hand raised, looking
for a taxi. A Cab comes to a stop….she moves to get
it… but somebody gets there first…the cab driving
off… and as she waits for the next cab…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
Now a taxi driver… had dropped
off a fare earlier… and had
stopped to get a cup of coffee…

A Taxi parked… Its Driver finishing a cup of coffee…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
And all the while Daisy was
rehearsing…

And we see just that…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
And the cab driver who had dropped
off the earlier fare, and had
stopped to get the cup of
coffee…
(MORE)
(CONTINUED)

130.

195 CONTINUED: (2) 195
BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
had picked up the lady, who was
going shopping… who had missed
getting the earlier cab…

We see the Woman riding in the taxi of the now familiar
cab driver… the taxi, has to stop for a man running
across the Street.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
The taxi had to stop for a man
crossing the street who had left
for work five minutes later than
he normally did… because he
forgot to set his alarm…

We see the man sleeping… The silent alarm clock on the
bedstand…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…While the man, late for work,
was crossing the street… making
the cab wait… Daisy, finished
rehearsing, was taking a shower.

And we see…Daisy showering,..

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…While Daisy was showering; the
taxi was waiting outside a
Boutique for the woman to pick up
a package… which hadn’t been
wrapped yet because the girl who
was supposed to wrap it… had
broken up with her boyfriend the
night before and forgot to…

The Girl standing outside the back of the Boutique,
crying, brokenhearted…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
When the package was done being
wrapped… The woman, who was back
in the cab… the taxi was blocked
by a delivery truck…

We see the Taxi blocked by a delivery truck… the cab
driver honking…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
All the while Daisy was getting
dressed…

Daisy getting dressed…

(CONTINUED)

131.

195 CONTINUED: (3) 195

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
The Delivery truck pulled off and
the taxi was able to go…

The taxi, moving off…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0,) (CONT’D)
While Daisy, the first to be
dressed, waited for one of her
friends who had broken a
shoelace…

We see her friend breaking her shoelace while tying it…

BENJAMIN BUTT0N’S (V.0.)
While the taxi was stopped,
waiting for a traffic light…

We see just that, the taxi stopped for a light.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Daisy and her friend came out of
the theater…

Daisy and her friend, carrying their dance bags, coming
down the steps out of the theater, coming along the
street to the corner… They start to cross the street…
Daisy, showing her friend a tight pirouette, when we see
the Taxi, rounding the corner…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
And if only one thing had happened
differently… if only the
shoelace hadn’t broken…

And we see the shoelace not breaking…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
…Or the delivery truck had moved
moments earlier…

The delivery truck leaving earlier…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
…Or the package had been wrapped
and ready… because the girl
hadn’t broken up with her
boyfriend…

The girl and boy happily kissing…

(CONTINUED)

132.

195 CONTINUED: (4) 195

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…Or the man had set his alarm
and got up five minutes earlier.

The man’s alarm going off, waking him up…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…Or the taxi driver hadn’t
stopped for a cup of coffee…

The Driver passing by the cafe…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…Or the woman had remembered her
coat…

The woman remembering to take her coat…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…And had gotten into an earlier
cab…

The woman getting into the other cab… she beats
somebody for…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Daisy and her friend would have
crossed the street…

Daisy and her friend crossing the street… Daisy,
showing her friend her dance move, doing a pirouette…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…and the taxi would have driven
by them…

And we see the taxi turning the corner, driving safely by
them… and becoming a ghost… of what might have
been…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
But life being what it is… a
series of intersecting lives and
incidents… Out of anyone’s
control… the taxi did not go
by… and the driver momentarily
was distracted…

The Driver wipes cigarette ash from his shirt front
momentarily looking down…

(CONTINUED)

133.

195 CONTINUED: (5) 195

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
And he didn’t see Daisy crossing
the street…

Daisy and her friend crossing the Street, Daisy doing the
Pirouette…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
…and that taxi hit Daisy…

And we see just that… Daisy being slammed into by the
taxi… thrown a distance… lying crumpled in the
Street…

196 INT. A HOSPITAL ROOM, PARIS, FRANCE – DAY, 1954 196

We see Benjamin coming into the hospital room in
France…Daisy, fully immobilized, lying in a hospital
bed…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And her leg was crushed…

She’s still, her eyes closed. Sensing him, she stirs. And
then she sees him.

BENJAMIN
Hello, Daisy…

DAISY
Who told you?

BENJAMIN
Your friend wired me.

DAISY
That was very kind of you… to
come all the way here, to see that
I was alright.

BENJAMIN
You would have done the same for
me…

And her first reaction, to how young he is…

DAISY
My God, look at you. You’re
perfect….

Which she isn’t… She’s quiet, and she suddenly says:

(CONTINUED)

134.

196 CONTINUED: 196

DAISY (CONT’D)
I wish you hadn’t. I wish you
hadn’t come here.

He’s dead still.

DAISY (CONT’D)
I don’t want you to see me like
this…

She turns over… as if she didn’t see him he wouldn’t be
there… Before he can say anything… A Nurse comes in
saying something in French… She pulls the curtains
around the bed… Benjamin waits…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
Her leg had been broken in five
places…. and with therapy, and
time, she might be able to
stand…maybe even walk…

The Nurse leaves… Benjamin comes into the circle of
curtains… It’s reminiscent of when they sat under the
table… the sheets over them… in their private
world… But this time she lays in the hospital bed her
back to him…

BENJAMIN
I’ll get a room… and once you
can leave you’ll come home with me
to New Orleans. Where you can be
with people who love you.

She suddenly turns…

DAISY
What home? Who’s we? I’m not going
back to New Orleans. New Orleans
is your home… I don’t have a
home… I haven’t been home for
five years… I’m not going
anywhere with you…

BENJAMIN
Alright, I’ll stay here in
Paris… I’ll help you with
anything you need…

DAISY
Benjamin…! I know I’m feeling
sorry for myself… But it wasn’t
supposed to be like this…
(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

135.

196 CONTINUED: (2) 196
DAISY (CONT’D)
Do you understand, I don’t want to
be with you… I tried to tell you
that in New York… You just don’t
listen…

BENJAMIN
You’ll change your mind.

DAISY
We’re not little children playing
under the table… Remember, when
you came to New York. You didn’t
belong there. I didn’t want to be
with you then, I don’t want to be
with you now! I want you to leave!
I’m not going anywhere with you! I
want you to stay out of my life!

And she turns away from him again…It’s dead still…
and we look at her staring at the curtains… And after
some moments she turns back to look at Benjamin… And
there are just the curtains billowing in the breeze…
Benjamin is gone…

197 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 197

DAISY
I was awfully cruel. He didn’t
understand. I couldn’t have him
see me that way…

She waits for Benjamin’s response…

CAROLINE
(reading)
“I didn’t leave right away…”

DAISY
(reacting)
No?

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“I stayed in Paris for awhile,
just to look out for her…”

197A EXT. PARIS – DAY 197A

Benjamin in Paris…

197B INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 197B

DAISY
I never knew that.

135A.

197C EXT. PARIS – DAY 197C

Benjamin in Paris, “watching over her.”

197D INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 197D

Daisy in bed…She winces with pain… her breathing
becoming ragged…

CAROLINE
I’ll get the nurse…

She goes into the hall… Daisy left to deal with the
remnants of her mortality… The Nurse coming into the
room… Caroline behind her… times her pulse.

THE NURSE
Let’s get you comfortable.

She raises the morphine level…straightens her
covers…she stops before she leaves…motions to
Caroline…Caroline going over to her.

THE NURSE (CONT’D)
Pulse rate’s slowing…She’s
getting less oxygen…You’ll
notice her struggle to
breathe…Will you be alright?

Caroline nods…The Nurse gives her a compassionate look
and leaves…Caroline stands, her arms protectively
across her chest, watching her mother…Daisy hums the
particular ragtime song that Benjamin would play on the
piano…She opens her eyes, as if not completely sure
where she is…telling Caroline…

DAISY
Every morning Monsieur Foley
leaves eggs and bread and mil,.
There’s a cafe across the street.
People sitting and drinking and
talking… I lay on my bed
thinking about the rest of my
life… about people… about
home… until I fall asleep.

She looks at Caroline as if to say, “What happened to
him…?”

(CONTINUED)

136.

197D CONTINUED: 197D

CAROLINE
(reading)
He said, “I went back…” But then
there are a whole lot of pages
torn out…

She looks at a loose piece of paper…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
“…I listened to the sound of the
house…” I think I already read
that…
(looking)
The next thing he wrote… he
spilled something on it… It’s
hard to read… Something about
“sailing.” Does that make sense?

DAISY
(in her own reality)
A man would go up and clean it.
Try and fix what was broken.

198 INT. THE TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS- DAY, 1960 198

A man up on the clock doing just that. Closing its face.
The cherubic angels pushing the hands on its way
backwards… “1960.”

199 EXT. LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN, LOUISIANA – ANOTHER DAY, 1960 199

We see a SAILBOAT out on the lake…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S
I learned to sail on an old boat
of my father’s from the Lake
House…

And we see Benjamin, the wind in his hair, sailing an old
sailboat… And the change in his appearance is
startling… His hair is without a trace of gray… His
face with barely a wrinkle, chiseled…He is a healthy
man in his 40s now…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I can’t lie, I did enjoy the
company of a woman or two…

137.

200 EXT. A NEW ORLEANS RESTAURANT – NIGHT 200

Benjamin and a Woman standing on the sidewalk outside a
restaurant, in the middle of an ardent kiss… As a taxi
pulls up…

200A EXT. A NEW ORLEANS HOUSE – DAYBREAK 200A

Benjamin at the door kissing another Woman
goodbye…going home

200B INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – EARLY ANOTHER 200B
MORNING, 1960

Benjamin’s door opening…Another Woman, disheveled,
coming out of his room…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
…Or maybe three…

Benjamin seeing her to the stairs…And as she starts
down the stairs to leave…we see a cluster of old
people, ready for the day, looking up at them…the woman
making her way awkwardly down the stairs and out the
door…Benjamin gives a little self conscious wave to the
old timers and starts back into his room…He slows at a
second story hallway window…looking outside at the
walkway…the familiar street beyond…If we didn’t know
any better he seems to be waiting for someone to come
home

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
And in the spring of 1962…

201 EXT. THE STREET, BY NOLAN HOUSE – END OF THE DAY, 1962 201

We see Benjamin riding the old motorcycle along the
street on his way home… leaves the motorcycle out in
front…

202 EXT. THE NOLAN HOUSE – END OF THE DAY, 1962 202

He comes to the gate, opening it, coming into the yard,
shutting the gate behind him, going up the walkway. An
Old Man is on the porch, quietly rocking. And Queenie,
for some reason is standing just outside the front door
on the porch… an apron in her hands… She nods to
Benjamin… talking to the Old Man in the rocking
chair… but she seems to be watching Benjamin, as he
walks around the house — to the back door. He takes off
his dirty work boots, leaves them on the porch.

(CONTINUED)

138.

202 CONTINUED: 202

He hops the back steps, and starts to open the kitchen
door, when it opens… And DAISY, now 36, but still with
her unmistakable blue eyes, is standing before him…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
She came back.

They look at each other in silence…and they simply
smile, so glad to see each other after all the missing
years… They embrace…for some time… and kiss… As
people who haven’t seen each other, and have thought
about each other… for a very long time… And it just
is…no big symphonies, no endless skies…just, two
people at a kitchen door in the middle of their lives…
and the simplicity, just that, is what makes it real and
breaks your heart.

203 INT. THE KITCHEN, NOLAN HOUSE – THAT NIGHT, 1962 203

A radio plays… they sit at the kitchen table, eating
dinner… the conversation muted… They don’t know
really where to begin, where did they leave oft…so they
don’t begin until they can….

DAISY
Don’t you want to know where I’ve
been?

BENJAMIN
No. I don’t care where you’ve been
— I’m just happy you’re back.

And we see Queenie has come into the kitchen… in her
nightgown now…

QUEENIE
(pure Queenie)
How come you didn’t write or
nothin’? Just disappearing like
that?

DAISY
It was what I needed to do for
myself.

QUEENIE
I never took you to be selfish. I
hope I’m not wrong. I’m not
usually wrong about people.

And Queenie leaves the kitchen…

DAISY
She’s still taking care of you.
(CONTINUED)

139.

203 CONTINUED: 203

Benjamin slightly smiles. They look at each other.

DAISY (CONT’D)
You’re not talking. You haven’t
said more than two words to me.

BENJAMIN
I don’t want to ruin it…

And they sit quietly in the kitchen, looking at each
other, silently eating…

204 INT. BACK STAIRWAY – NOLAN HOUSE – THAT NIGHT, 1962 204

Benjamin carries her bags upstairs. They reach the third
floor.

205 INT. HALLWAY, NOLAN HOUSE – 3RD FLOOR – THAT NIGHT, 1962 205

All the years seem to surround them. They walk along the
corridor to Daisy’s room. What was her grandmother’s
room. She opens the door.

206 INT. THE BEDROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – THAT NIGHT, 1962 206

He sets her bags down. Queenie despite her reservations
has left some clean towels on the bed for her… There’s
an inept quiet. The two of them with nothing left to
say… And they listen to the quiet… The house with its
symphony of night noises…

BENJAMIN
Goodnight.

He is just at the door… when she says…

DAISY
Sleep with me.

BENJAMIN
Are you sure?

DAISY
Yes.

He turns to her. They look at each other. And they kiss,
A kiss that has waited for thirty years. A kiss that has
waited a lifetime. And yes, there is passion… and
need… but most particularly, the awkwardness of people
discovering each other for the first time… While he
gently, tenderly, kisses her, undresses her..

(CONTINUED)

140.

206 CONTINUED: 206

DAISY (CONT’D)
Are you sure you don’t want to
know?…

While they kiss and caress each other.

DAISY (CONT’D)
I lived in Lyon…

Benjamin and Daisy undressing one another, touching,
kissing…

DAISY (CONT’D)
…I learned to walk again

Daisy and Benjamin, naked, passionately kissing…

DAISY (CONT’D)
…I worked in a flower shop…

They lay on the bed, kissing, caressing…

DAISY (CONT’D)
…I went to American movies a
lot.

They kiss more and more passionately…And Benjamin about
to make love to her hesitates…

DAISY (CONT’D)
You won’t hurt me…

He kisses her scarred crooked leg. Kisses her body. And
as they make love in the old bedroom…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
I asked her to come with me…

What follows feels like a HOME MOVIE…without any sound.

207 EXT. THE FLORIDA GULF COAST – ANOTHER DAY, 1963 207

And we see the small sailboat out on the gulf coast…

BENJAMIN SUTTON’S (V.0,)
We sailed into the Gulf… along
the Florida coast…

208 EXT. THE FLORIDA COAST, A COVE – DAY, 1963 208

Daisy and Benjamin on the sailboat at a cove on the
Florida coast. They watch a ROCKET, soaring into space
from Cape Caniveral.

(CONTINUED)

141.

208 CONTINUED: 208

As they watch it roar overhead, Benjamin marvels at its
power…leaving its trail across the sky…Daisy, not so
much interested, taking his arm, taking him back down
below…

209 EXT. THE CARIBBEAN, ANOTHER COVE – DAY, 1963 209

Daisy washing her hair off the side of the boat.

210 EXT. THE CARIBBEAN, ANOTHER COVE – NIGHT 210

The boat anchored. Benjamin and Daisy sitting on the
deck having a picnic with just a single lamp for light.

211 EXT. THE CARIBBEAN, ANOTHER COVE – NIGHT, 1963 211

The boat in still another cove. Daisy and Benjamin in
the water. Just their eyes above the dark water looking
only at each other.

212 EXT. THE BOAT – CARIBBEAN – NIGHT, 1963 212

Under millions of stars. Benjamin and Daisy making love
on a blanket on the deck…

213 EXT. THE CARIBBEAN, AN ISLAND BEACH – DAY, 1963 213

Benjamin and Daisy asleep on a secluded beach.

214 EXT. THE CARIBBEAN – ANOTHER DAY, 1963 214

The boat out on the water, Daisy sitting on the deck, the
wind in her hair… Benjamin at the wheel…threatening
clouds on the horizon…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
I’m so glad we didn’t find one
another when I was 26… I’m glad
we missed…

BENJAMIN’S (V.0.)
Why do you say that?

DAISY’S (V.0.)
It wasn’t right…

215 INT. A CARIBBEAN HOTEL, BAR – DAY, 1963 215

A small Caribbean hotel. We see Benjamin and Daisy
sitting at a table drinking, talking in a nearly empty
bar… wind and rain lashing the hotel… waiting out a
tropical storm…

(CONTINUED)

142.

215 CONTINUED: 215

DAISY
We wouldn’t have this… We
wouldn’t be here… It happened
when it was supposed to happen…

They look at each other…

BENJAMIN
Relationships have a time and a
place.

DAISY
Don’t say that.

BENJAMIN
What I mean is… You don’t
usually get more than one chance.
If you miss it, it’s too late…
and it’s gone… We’re lucky… we
had more than one chance.

DAISY
(laughs)
That’s easy for you to say…
You’ll have plenty of chances.

She tenderly touches his hand… They look at each
other… And dedicating herself…

DAISY (CONT’D)
I’m going to enjoy every moment I
have with you…

The waiter’s come over.

BENJAMIN
Have you ever had a Sazerac with
whiskey not brandy?

DAISY’S
(smiles)
I’m with you, aren’t I? I’ll try
anything.

And the wind changes direction, the rain coming in
through the open windows of the bar, getting them wet…
people run for cover…

DAISY
Bet I can stay out here longer
than you can.

(CONTINUED)

143.

215 CONTINUED: (2) 215

BENJAMIN
Bet you can’t.

And as they both sit doggedly in the rain…

216 INT. HOTEL ROOM, THE CARIBBEAN HOTEL – NIGHT, 1963 216

A white hotel room… The storm shutters closed… The
wind and the rain banging at the shutters… Daisy and
Benjamin lying together on a bed out of the storm… She
touches his face as if for the first time…

DAISY
You barely have a line, a crease,
or a wrinkle… Everyday I have
more wrinkles you have less…

He touches her face.

BENJAMIN
I love your wrinkles.

DAISY
What does it feel like growing
younger?

BENJAMIN
I don’t know… I’m always looking
out of my own eyes…

They’re quiet, just the sound of the rain and the
chattering shutters… She lays closer to him…
warmly… She smiles…

DAISY
Will you still love me when I
can’t stand straight… when my
skin grows old and spotted…

Benjamin laughs.

DAISY (CONT’D)
Will you still love me when my
step gets slow… when I sleep too
much… when you have to push me
in a chair…

And his answer is…

BENJAMIN
Will you still love me when I have
pimples. When I think it’s funny
to make fart noises…

(CONTINUED)

144.

216 CONTINUED: 216

She laughs…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Will you still love me when I
think all girls have cooties…
Will you still love me when I wet
my bed at night… Will you still
love me when I’m afraid of things
that aren’t real…

They hold each other… And Benjamin says… from what
he’s seen…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Nothing lasts…

DAISY
Maybe some things last…

BENJAMIN
I’ve never seen anything not come
to an end…

DAISY
Maybe it’s something you can’t
see…

And a shutter slams open… the rain and the wind coming
into the room… Benjamin gets up to close it… He comes
back into bed… And Daisy, suddenly afraid…

DAISY (CONT’D)
I’m cold, Benjamin…

And as he holds her in the white room with the wind and
the rain trying to get in, banging on the shutters…

217 INT. HOTEL ROOM, CARIBBEAN HOTEL – LATER THAT NIGHT, 1963 217

The storm’s died down… Benjamin and Daisy falling
asleep…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And you said…

DAISY
Goodnight, Benjamin.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
And I said…

BENJAMIN
Goodnight, Daisy…

145.

218 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, THE PRESENT 218

DAISY
(that she’s stopped)
Caroline?

CAROLINE
(after a beat,
slightly confused)
I don’t understand. When did you
meet Dad?

DAISY
Dear Robert… some time after
that…

CAROLINE
Did you ever tell him about this
Benjamin?

DAISY
He knew enough. He loved me as I
was. I loved him for who he was.
What more was needed?

She trails off… she’s quiet… and wanting to know
what’s next, reading on…

CAROLINE
“That night, in the Caribbean I
had a visitor…”

219 INT. HOTEL ROOM, CARIBBEAN HOTEL – MIDDLE OF NIGHT, 1963 219

Benjamin and Daisy sleeping… the shutters quietly
talking on a breeze… when one of the shutters SLAMS
open as if somebody’s come in… Benjamin wakes up… And
he literally sees QUEENIE is sitting on the side of the
bed beside him…

QUEENIE
I wanted to tell you I love you
and your mama’s gone…

And she bends, sweetly kissing him…

And Benjamin rolls over… His eyes come open… Daisy
sensing he’s awake, awakening, murmurs…

(CONTINUED)

146.

219 CONTINUED: 219

DAISY
Is anything wrong?

BENJAMIN
Queenie came to tell me she loved
me… and that my mother was gone.

DAISY
…go back to sleep…

As she caresses him… falling back to sleep… the
shutters talking…

220 EXT. THE NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – ANOTHER DAY, 1963 220

We see Daisy and Benjamin, with their few belongings,
returning home… They go up the walkway… Benjamin
trots up the steps, opens the screen door and goes
inside…

221 INT. THE NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – ANOTHER DAY, 1963 221

Benjamin comes inside… Daisy’s just behind him… The
front room is empty… The house still…

BENJAMIN
(calls)
Hello… Queenie… we’re back…

He looks into the parlor… The piano… He goes down a
hallway into the kitchen…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Queenie…? Mama?

Nobody… He goes down the hall looking in Queenie’s
small room under the stairs… Nobody’s there… He moves
back into the front room… calling…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Hello… Anybody here?

When finally an old Woman, who’s been sleeping, comes out
of her bedroom…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
It’s Benjamin, Mrs. Carter…
Where is everybody?

THE OLD WOMAN
Benjamin… your mother died.

147.

222 INT. A BLACK BAPTIST CHURCH, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1963 222

The church crowded… And we see Benjamin and Daisy
coming in the back as the service is ending… They are
the only white people there. Benjamin walks to the open
casket… standing by his mother’s side as the choir
sings a Hallelujah chorus…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
We buried her beside her beloved
Mr. Weathers…

223 EXT. AN OLD NEW ORLEANS CEMETERY – DAY, 1963 223

A predominantly African-American cemetery… overgrown
and old… The mourners, almost all of them old white
people, standing at Queenie’s gravesite alongside her
beloved Mr. Weathers. We see Queenie’s daughter among
the mourners… in her early 30s herself now… And
Benjamin, standing over his mother’s grave… saying his
goodbyes…

BENJAMIN
We are meant to lose the people we
love. It’s how we know how
important they are to us.

BENJAMIN’S (V.O.)
And so we could have memories of
our own I sold my Father’s house
on Blaine Street…

224 EXT. THE BUTTON HOUSE, GARDEN DISTRICT – DAY, 1963 224

The old house, in a now decaying New Orleans
neighborhood… but despite the faltering area, the house
retains a dignity of its own…

225 INT. THE BUTTON HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, 1963 225

We see a young pregnant Woman, a renter, being shown by
Benjamin along with a Real Estate Agent, around the old
house.

THE WOMAN
…It’s such a lovely place… You
must have a lot of fond memories.
It must be hard for you to give it
up.

Benjamin doesn’t say anything. There’s a knock on the
door. Benjamin opens it, to let an OLDER MAN in… quite
a bit older…

(CONTINUED)

148.

225 CONTINUED: 225

THE MAN
Is Mrs. Williamson here yet… I’m
sorry to be late…

And he sees his wife… pleased to see her… hugging
her… tenderly kissing her… and their age difference
readily obvious… Benjamin acutely aware of it…

THE WOMAN
It’s a wonderful old place,
darling… I think we will be so
happy here…

They go into the hallway lined with the family
photographs… She’s taken by them…

THE WOMAN (CONT’D)
Oh, what a long family history you
have…

BENJAMIN
They come with the house…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
And we bought a house of our
own…

226 EXT. A SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1963 226

Benjamin and Daisy sitting on the front steps of a
suburban New Orleans townhouse, a small screened front
porch with a tree in front…

227 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 227

DAISY
(murmurs)
I loved that house… it smelled
like firewood… The chimney
leaked smoke… We didn’t care…
Oh don’t stop dear… don’t
stop…

She closes her eyes…

CAROLINE’S VOICE (OVER)
“It was one of the happiest times
of my life…”

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
We had no furniture to speak of…
we would have picnics in the
living room…

149.

228 INT. THE SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1963 228

Benjamin and Daisy having a picnic on the virtually empty
living room floor.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0,)
We slept on a mattress…

229 INT. BEDROOM, SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE, NEW ORLEANS DAY, 1963 229

We see Benjamin and Daisy sleeping on a mattress on the
floor in the bedroom…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
We vowed never to go to bed or
wake up at the same time. We
lived on that mattress…

And we see just that, a short film of two people who
can’t get enough of each other living on a mattress…
Daisy and Benjamin at various times, while they are
either sleeping, or talking, or eating, or reading, or
making love, ON THE MATTRESS ON THE FLOOR…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Our neighbor, Mrs. Van Dam was a
physical therapist…

230 INT. PORCH, SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1953 230

We see Daisy in the screened-in front porch, exercising
her leg under the supervision of an older woman… MRS.
VAN DAM…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
We lived four blocks from a public
pool…

231 INT. A PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL, YWCA – DAY, 1963 231

We see Daisy in a bathing suit, resting from swimming,
holding on to the side of the pool, watching a young,
well conditioned girl, 18, with nothing but her life
ahead of her, completely in tune with her body, swimming
laps… And as it comes to all of us, painfully aware of
the years passing, her own physical mortality, she starts
to cry… And we see that Benjamin, come to meet her, is
standing above her.

BENJAMIN
You’re crying…

(CONTINUED)

150.

231 CONTINUED: 231

DAISY
It’s just the chlorine…

Looking at the young girl… looking at her…
understanding…

BENJAMIN
You chose something to do…
something so special… so
unique… there was such a short
period of time that you could do
it… Even if nothing had happened
… Sooner or later you would be
in the same place you are now…

She’s quiet… she knows what he’s saying is true…

DAISY
I don’t like getting old.

232 EXT. LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN, LOUISIANA – DAYBREAK, 1964 232

Benjamin, Daisy holding onto him, riding the old
motorcycle along the lake…

233 EXT. THE DOCK AT THE LAKE – DAYBREAK, 1964 233

Daisy sits in the familiar deck chair his father had sat
in looking out at the lake… Benjamin brings her a cup
of coffee… He sits on the deck on his heels beside
her…

DAISY
I promise you, I’ll never lose
myself to self-pity again…

And as they watch the day begin…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
And I think, right there and then,
she realized none of us is perfect
forever.

234 INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, THE PRESENT 234

The window has started to rattle again… the wind
knocking.

CAROLINE
I thought the wind had shifted
away…

(CONTINUED)

151.

234 CONTINUED: 234

Daisy doesn’t say anything, lying still, staring off…
her breathing shallow, laboring…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Mother?

DAISY
(agitated)
I don’t remember if I turned the
lights off. Did I leave the
heater on?

The Nurse, on her way by, seeing her distress… coming
in…

THE NURSE
Let’s get you comfortable…

She gently covers her… Daisy quietly lies back…

THE NURSE (CONT’D)
She’s getting ready to leave…

She looks at Caroline and turns and leaves the room.
Caroline quietly looks at her mother. Their eyes meet.

DAISY
You have the most beautiful eyes.

Caroline reaches to hold her thin hand. Daisy says
something to herself. Caroline looks at her…she looks
down at the book…

CAROLINE
He said, “She found peace.”

DAISY
(says to herself)
Peace.

235 INT. A DANCE STUDIO, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1967 235

A small dance studio… a scratchy phonograph record
playing music… young girls learning how to dance…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
She opened a dance studio…

And we see Daisy, in a long skirt over a long sleeved
leotard… wearing slippers…

(CONTINUED)

152.

235 CONTINUED: 235

The first time we’ve seen her dressed like this in many a
year… happily teaching young girls how to dance…

236 INT. DANCE STUDIO, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1967 236

We see Daisy alone… cleaning up… music playing on the
record player… and for a brief moment she stops, and
dances… the smallest, most tentative of steps… she
sees in the studio’s mirrors Benjamin’s been silently
watching her…

BENJAMIN
You’re still beautiful to watch…

She looks at herself in the dance mirror… just what
happens…

DAISY
Dancing is all about the line…
the line of your body…after
awhile… you lose the line… and
you can never get it back…

They look at each other in the mirror…

DAISY (CONT’D)
I figured out if you were born in
1918… 49 years ago… I’m 43…
we’re almost the same age… In
three years we’ll meet in the
middle…

And what she doesn’t say, what they both know, is she’s
going one way and he’s going the other…Benjamin
affectionately…

BENJAMIN
(smiles)
We finally caught up to each
other…

She smiles, starts to turn…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Stay just like that… I want to
remember what we look like right
now.

They stay like that for a moment longer… She turns to
get her things… She shuts off the lights… She takes
his arm…

(CONTINUED)

153.

236 CONTINUED: 236

DAISY
I thought I was far too old… I’m
pregnant…

He stops… They look at each other, she smiles, nodding
“yes,” it’s true. And deeply moved he takes her in his
arms… grateful…touching her face… holding her…

237 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 237

CAROLINE
(stopped)
You were pregnant? You never said
anything, did you? I mean, what
happened to the child?

DAISY
(wistful)
The child…

We’re not sure what more she is about to say, her
breathing rasps… she’s having some difficulty
breathing…

CAROLINE
(getting up)
They said if you needed oxygen…

DAISY
I want to breathe on my own…
Please…(and) sit down, my
darling…

Caroline respects her wishes…

DAISY (CONT’D)
(wanting her to
continue)
I’m pregnant.

And Caroline wanting to know what happened herself…

CAROLINE
“She flourished…”

DAISY
(eyes closed,
murmurs)
Hmmm…

(CONTINUED)

153A.

237 CONTINUED: 237

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
“She was happier than I had ever
seen her…”

238 INT. A NEW ORLEANS STREET CAR — DAY, 1967 238

Benjamin and Daisy riding a street car, talking…

DAISY
I thought I heard the nurse slip,
and say “he…”

As they ride Benjamin looks over watching a father
sitting with his child… Daisy notices his look…

154.

239 EXT. A NEW ORLEANS DINER – LATE AT NIGHT, 1967 239

Benjamin and Daisy sitting at the window at one of the
booths…

240 INT. SAME NEW ORLEANS DINER – LATE AT NIGHT, 1967 240

Daisy with a hot Fudge sundae and a tuna sandwich…
Benjamin just some coffee… They’re quiet… And Daisy
says…

DAISY
I know you’re afraid.

BENJAMIN
I’m not hiding it.

DAISY
Okay. What’s your worst fear?

BENJAMIN
What if it has…what if its like
me?…

DAISY
Then we’ll love it all the more…

BENJAMIN
I want to be father… not a
little brother… I don’t want to
be picked up from elementary
school by my kid… I don’t want
anyone babysitting me…

DAISY
I’m going to make this work…
This is what I want, and I want it
with you…

BENJAMIN
You know, there’s nothing I
wouldn’t do for you…

DAISY
Would you tell a blind man he
can’t have children? You will be
a father for as long as you can.
I know the consequences. I
accepted that. Your love, loving
you, is worth everything to me.
(laughs)
For the fiftieth time today I’ve
got to go pee…

(CONTINUED)

155.

240 CONTINUED: 240

He smiles… She gets up and goes to the restroom. He
sits with his thoughts… and he notices a television’s
on… a news report… something catches his eye…
someone swimming? He gets up moving to the television…
where he hears…

A MAN’S VOICE (V.O.)
(on television)
The oldest woman to ever swim the
English Channel arrived in Calais
today… having made the swim in
thirty-four hours, twenty-two
minutes and fourteen seconds…
the sixty-eight year old
Englishwoman, Elizabeth Abbott…

And we see dear ELIZABETH ABBOTT, coming out of the
water, completing the English Channel swim.

ELIZABETH ABBOTT
(on television)
Anything’s possible.

And as she smiles, after a lifetime of waiting,
triumphant… And Benjamin smiles for her, and for
himself, too… where anything is possible… Daisy’s
come beside him…

DAISY
Ready?

BENJAMIN
Yes.

He leaves some money. He takes her arm… and as they go
outside, moving along the street…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
On a day like any other in the
spring…

241 INT. THEIR BEDROOM, SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE – MORNING, 1968 241

We see Benjamin in the bedroom, putting on a shirt…
getting dressed… And there’s the sound of something
falling… and then…

DAISY (O.S.)
Benjamin…

And he runs out of the room… to see Daisy, fallen,
sitting on the stairs…

(CONTINUED)

156.

241 CONTINUED: 241

a glass of milk spilled on the carpet… and blood on her
nightdress… he runs to a phone…

BENJAMIN
Get me an ambulance… My wife is
seven months pregnant and fell on
the stairs…

DAISY
Benjamin… the baby’s coming…

And he hurries to her side… and as she clasps his
hand…

242 INT. THEIR BEDROOM – SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE – DAY 1968 242

Paramedics are there… tending to Daisy, Benjamin at her
side, as she struggles.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
She gave birth to a five pound
four ounce baby girl…

243 INT. THEIR BEDROOM – SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE – DAY, 1968 243

We see, lying on Daisy’s chest, is a newborn baby…
Benjamin, standing beside her… And a young Woman Doctor
that’s there… packing up her things…

BENJAMIN
You’re sure there’s nothing wrong
with her?

THE YOUNG WOMAN DOCTOR
She’s a normal, healthy baby in
every way…

And Benjamin moved, kisses the baby’s head… as he looks
at this precious child of his…

CAROLINE’S (V.O.)
We named her Caroline, for my
mother…

And as Benjamin holds Daisy’s hand while she nurses
her…

244 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 244

Caroline’s stopped reading… dead still…

CAROLINE
He was my father…? This
Benjamin was my father?
(MORE)
(CONTINUED)

157.

244 CONTINUED: 244
CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Why didn’t you ever tell me…?!

DAISY
It doesn’t change for a moment who
you are. You were a gift.
Sometimes the gifts we are given
are not free.

CAROLINE
You never said a word to me…

Caroline, upset, gets up…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
I need to go for a minute…

She leaves the room…

DAISY
(enigmatic)
My dearest darling, we were both
deprived of him…

Daisy lying still… in her turban… her blue eyes…
her breathing rasping…

244A INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 244A

Caroline stands in the hall. The bustle of the hospital,
the exigencies of life going on about her. The Nurse,
seeing her…

THE NURSE
It can get to you…

And Caroline, unable to hold it in, can’t stop bitter
tears from running down her face… The Nurse is called
for… She goes off down the hallway… Caroline takes
another moment and goes back into the hospital room…

244B INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, THE PRESENT 244B

Daisy, seeing her come back in…

DAISY
I was worried you weren’t coming
back…

CAROLINE
(after a moment)
You’re all I have.

DAISY
Read the rest of it, darling.
(CONTINUED)

157A.

244B CONTINUED: 244B

Caroline hesitates, then sits back down, and quietly
takes up the “book.”

CAROLINE
“You grew, like the doctor had
said, normal and healthy…”

245 INT. THEIR BEDROOM, SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – 245
NIGHT, 1969

The room’s dark. We see Benjamin in bed, the baby
sleeping between him and Daisy… And as Benjamin watches
them sleep… he looks at his reflection in a wall
mirror… his 51st year on this earth… 34 years old…
a young man… He looks at his baby… he looks at
Daisy… in her mid 40s… her hair’s begun to gray…
her face begun to show the natural touches of age… His
stare awakens her… She looks at him sensing he’s deeply
troubled… He shuts his eyes… she watches him sleep,
Daisy as troubled as he is… but for very different
reasons…

246 EXT. A PARK – NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1969 246

Benjamin is sitting with Caroline while she plays in a
park’s sand box… Caroline helping herself to a mouthful
of sand… Benjamin, trying to get the sand out of her
mouth…

BENJAMIN
Don’t eat sand…

Daisy comes over to sit with them…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
She’s going to have a really
attractive diaper.

As they sit watching Caroline playing in the sand…

(CONTINUED)

158.

246 CONTINUED: 246

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
I think you should find a real
father for her…

DAISY
What are you talking about?

BENJAMIN
She needs someone to grow old
with…

DAISY
She’ll learn to accept whatever
happens… She loves you…

BENJAMIN
She needs a father not a playmate.

DAISY
Is it that my age is starting to
show…? Is that what you are
telling me? Have you lost your
desire for me…?

BENJAMIN
You don’t need another child to
raise…

DAISY
You’re going to leave me, aren’t
you?

He doesn’t say anything.

DAISY (CONT’D)
You can’t leave me.

He’s silent.

DAISY (CONT’D)
You can’t do this to me…!

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
It was your first birthday. We
had a party… the house was
filled with people…

159.

247 INT. SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE – NEW ORLEANS – DAY, 1969 247

The birthday party. A cake with a big number “1” candle.
One-year-olds not having a clue.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
The fathers and mothers were
there…

He looks at the age appropriate mothers and fathers with
their children…

A MAN
Before you look around they’ll be
in High School dating.

Benjamin manages a smile.

247A INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY – PRESENT 247A

DAISY
I remember your first birthday
like it was yesterday.

248 INT. SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE – LATER IN THE DAY, 1969 248

The house is empty, the guests gone… Daisy busy
cleaning up from the party. She stops to look outside,
at the backyard. Benjamin is sitting on a lounge
chair… the baby, in her party dress, sitting on his
chest… As Daisy stands at the window watching him with
their baby…

249 INT. THEIR BEDROOM – SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE – LATE AT NIGHT, 249
1969

Benjamin, dressed, watching Caroline in her crib, asleep.
Daisy in bed, asleep.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
I sold the summer house on Lake
Pontchartrain… I sold my share
of Button’s Buttons… I sold the
sailboat… I put it all into an
account for your mother… And
before you would ever remember
me…

And he bends to kiss his sleeping daughter, whispering to
her…

BENJAMIN
I want you to know I love you…

(CONTINUED)

160.

249 CONTINUED: 249

He stops to put a bank book on the dresser, along with a
house key… the sound of the key is just enough for
Daisy to stir. He starts to leave… He turns to go…
and he sees Daisy is looking at him… A look not so much
of anger, or hurt, not of resignation, but a look of
acceptance… that this is what her life is now… He
crosses out of the dark room silently closing the door
behind him…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
I left, so that you and your
mother could have a life.

250 EXT. SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1969 250

He takes the old motorcycle out of the garage.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
(after a beat)
I left with just the clothes on my
back.

He starts the motorcycle, and with just the shirt on his
back he rides away…

251 INT. SUBURBAN TOWNHOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – LATE AT NIGHT, 251
1969

Daisy still lying in bed, the sound of the motorcycle
driving away. She gets up. She takes the baby out of
her crib and into bed with her, holding her baby in the
bare light…

252 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 252

Daisy, in her regal turban, silently looking out the
window… the wind knocking loudly again…

CAROLINE
I almost wish I didn’t know any of
this.
(she’s quiet, after a
beat)
I feel odd, reading…it…

She looks at the book…

(CONTINUED)

161.

252 CONTINUED: 252

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Where did he go?

DAISY
I don’t know. I never heard from
him.

Caroline, distant, picks through the book…She comes
upon…

CAROLINE
There are postcards…

Looking through them…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
They’re all addressed to me…
They’re from all sorts of
places…

And she realizes…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
They’re for my birthday.
(reading)
1970…I would have been two…
“Happy Birthday.” “I wish I could
have kissed you goodnight.”
(reading, another
one)
“Happy Birthday, you’re five.” “I
wish I could have taken you to
your first day of school.”
(reading on)
“Happy Birthday six-year-old.” “I
wish I could be there to teach you
how to play the piano…”
(reading on)
“11…” “…Told you not to chase
some boy…” “13…” “Held you
when you had a broken heart…”
“1983.” I was fifteen. “I wish I
could have been your father.
Nothing I ever did will replace
that…”

Daisy murmurs… Which brings Caroline back to the
book…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
(reads)
What I think is…”

161A-162.

252A AROUND THE WORLD 252A

And Benjamin’s voice comes in… WHILE WE SEE HIM IN
VARIOUS PLACES ALL OVER THE WORLD, A MONTAGE, A FILM
WITHIN A FILM, OF THE ROAD HE’S TAKEN…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“…What I think is, it’s never
too late…or, in my case, too
early, to be whoever you want to
be…There’s no time limit, start
anytime you want…change or stay
the same…there aren’t any
rules…We can make the best or
worst of it…I hope you make the
best…I hope you see things that
startle you. Feel things you
never felt before. I hope you
meet people who have a different
point of view. I hope you
challenge yourself. I hope you
stumble, and pick yourself up. I
hope you live the life you wanted
to…and if you haven’t, I hope
you start all over again.”

When we come out of those images…

252B INT. THE HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 252B

Caroline finishes reading…

CAROLINE
“… I hope you start all over
again…”

It’s quiet…just the wind knocking…She looks at her
mother…but Daisy’s staring, somewhere else…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
(takes up reading
again…)
I’d been gone for a long time…

DAISY
(echoes)
He’d been gone for a long time…

To the Dance Studio…

162A-164.

253-58 OMIT 253-58

259 OMIT 259

260-62 OMIT 260-62

263 INT. THE DANCE STUDIO, NEW ORLEANS – ANOTHER NIGHT, 1980 263

A record’s playing piano music. Classes are done.
Parents taking their children. We see Daisy, in her long
skirt… helping pick up with her hands and her nimble
toes, errant clothing, the jackets, the sweaters…

(CONTINUED)

165.

263 CONTINUED: 263

It takes us a moment to recognize her… in the some
twelve years since we’ve last seen her, 56 now, her
hair’s cut short… and it’s gone mostly gray… and,
although her age is on her face, she still has a dancer’s
posture, her head held high… carrying herself with
grace… and one thing that will never change, are her
unforgettable blue eyes… We hear the door opening…
Daisy, busy gathering, saying her goodnights… glances
toward the door across the studio… And she sees a young
Man has come in, a young man in his twenties… standing
silently, a stranger, standing by the door… Daisy, as
she closes up the studio, makes her way toward him,
saying goodnight to people… she bends to pick up a
ballet slipper…

DAISY
Somebody left their slipper…

Daisy looks over, the young Man hasn’t moved… the
studio has all but emptied… she walks toward him…
he’s wearing worn trousers, a coat that’s seen better
days…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Are you here to pick someone up?

He shakes “no.” Coming closer….

DAISY (CONT’D)
I’m sorry, we’re closed now.

She moves to open the door to show him out… when she
gets a good look at him. She stops, realizing who it
is…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Benjamin?

…and she’s taken aback by his youth, we all are…
sixteen years younger… in his 20s now… it’s at once
staggering and heartbreaking… what age can do… And
she realizes, at that very moment, he was right all
along…

DAISY (CONT’D)
You’re so young.

They look at each other… When she’s able to find the
words…

DAISY (CONT’D)
Why did you come back?

(CONTINUED)

166.

263 CONTINUED: (2) 263

BENJAMIN
I wanted to see you both.

She stares at him… just the piano music. And despite
the gulf of time… there’s a terrible aching they have
for each other… and before they can say anything… the
door swings open and Caroline, 12, comes hurrying in…

CAROLINE
You ready, Mom?

Benjamin stares at her appearance… And Daisy, can’t
help herself, and seeing Caroline, Daisy, overcome by it
all, starts to cry.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
Is something wrong, Mother?

DAISY
No… He was telling me a very sad
story about a mutual friend we
hadn’t seen in a long time… This
is my friend, Benjamin… you knew
him when you were… just a
baby…

CAROLINE
Hi…

BENJAMIN
Hello…

He reaches, taking her hand… needing to touch her…

A MAN’S (V.O.)
Hello…

And a Man 50s, wearing a suit and a tie, comes in…

THE MAN
I’m sorry… I thought you were
done…

DAISY
This is a friend of my family’s…
Benjamin Button… this is my
husband… Robert…

They shake hands… There’s an awkward quiet…

ROBERT
It was nice to have met you…
We’ll be in the car, darling…

(CONTINUED)

167.

263 CONTINUED: (3) 263

DAISY
I’m just closing up…

And Robert and Caroline go outside to wait for her…

BENJAMIN
She’s so lovely… she looks like
you… Does she dance?

DAISY
Not very well.

BENJAMIN
I suppose that would be from my
side of things.

`DAISY
She’s a dear sweet girl… she
seems a little lost… But who
isn’t a little lost at 12?
There’s a lot of her that reminds
me of you.

And she shuts off a set of the lights.

DAISY (CONT’D)
My husband. He’s a doctor… was
a widower… He’s an incredibly
bright, adventurous man…

Benjamin smiles.

DAISY (CONT’D)
He’s been a terrific father… and
a great partner and friend…

And she shuts off the record player and another set of
lights… and for a moment they stand in the dark
studio… and they look at their reflections in the
mirror… seeing who they are now…

DAISY (CONT’D)
You’re so much younger.

BENJAMIN
Just what you can see.

She looks at him, and after all these years… she now
understands completely… she looks outside at her
daughter standing by the car with her “father,”
waiting…

(CONTINUED)

168.

263 CONTINUED: (4) 263

DAISY
You ware right. She needed a
father. I couldn’t have raised
both of you. I’m not that strong.

He’s quiet. They both are. She looks at him.

DAISY (CONT’D)
I never thought how it must have
broken your heart, too.

His silence is enough.

DAISY (CONT’D)
Where are you staying? What are
you going to do?

BENJAMIN
I’m at the Pontchartrain Hotel on
the avenue. I have no idea what
I’m going to do.

And it seems like they want to hold each other. But they
can’t. It’s still. And aware of the car’s headlights
waiting at the curb… she turns, holding the door open
for him…

DAISY
I have to go.

He nods. He walks by her, going out.

264 EXT. A STREET, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1980 264

She stops to lock the door. She turns, getting into the
car… and leaves… Benjamin stands on the corner, hands
in his pockets, the car driving by him… and Daisy can’t
help but look at him… and then the car’s gone… and as
he crosses the street and walks off into the night…

265 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 265

CAROLINE
That young man was my father?

And a Nurse comes in.

THE NURSE
The hurricane changed directions
again. They are predicting it
will make landfall sometime soon.

(CONTINUED)

169.

265 CONTINUED: 265

CAROLINE
Is there anything we need to do?

THE NURSE
Arrangements are being made to
move people if we have to. I’ll
let you know as soon as we know
anything.

She leaves hurriedly.

DAISY
Please tell me what he says?

Caroline looks at the book. And Benjamin’s voice comes
in…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“That night…”

266 INT. BENJAMIN’S HOTEL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1980 266

Benjamin, sitting on the end of the bed, not sure why he
came there at all… There’s a sound at the door…as if
somebody was there…

BENJAMIN
Hello?

Its quiet…a hesitancy…He starts to get up and there’s
a knock on the door…He opens it…and Daisy’s there.
He’s startled to see her…

DAISY
May I come in?

BENJAMIN
Please…

She comes inside…an awkward quiet…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
I don’t know what I’m doing
here…What I expected…?

It echoes how she’s feeling being there…They stand not
knowing what to say…And Daisy says, sadly…

DAISY
Nothing lasts.

He puts a finger to her lips. He shakes “no.” And what
he’s come to know, that some things do last…

(CONTINUED)

170.

266 CONTINUED: 266

BENJAMIN
I never once stopped loving you…

He affectionately pushes a hair off of her forehead…

DAISY
I’m an old woman now, Benjamin.

And he helps her off with her coat… She’s still.

DAISY (CONT’D)
Benjamin…

He kisses her… and she’s quiet… and he undresses
her… undressing himself… and they stand momentarily
naked… the young man and the older woman.

DAISY (CONT’D)
Are you sure?

BENJAMIN
Some things you don’t ever
forget… the feel… the taste…

And he kisses her again…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
… the smell…

He puts his mouth by her cheek… breathing her in…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
… the touch…

Caressing her…

BENJAMIN (CONT’D)
Of someone you love…

267 INT. BENJAMIN’S HOTEL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – NIGHT, 1980 267

We see Benjamin standing at the window watching as Daisy
gets into a taxi… the taxi starting to drive off… and
Daisy turning… to look back… waving to him. Benjamin
waving to her… what they both somehow know, is a last
goodbye…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
I watched her go…

..and as the taxi drives away…

(CONTINUED)

171.

267 CONTINUED: 267

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
Until she went out of sight…

…the taxi going down the street and out of sight… for
the last time… Despite losing sight of her he still
hasn’t moved… standing by the window…

268 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 268

Daisy, breath raspy, sitting silently in her bed looking
out the window… We realize Caroline’s stopped
reading…

DAISY
Please read…

CAROLINE
That’s the last thing he wrote…

Daisy’s quiet… they both are… alone with their
thoughts…

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
What happened to him after that
last time with you, Mother?

The wind has picked up considerably, rattling the window
even harder..

DAISY
A year or so after your father
passed… There was a call…

269 INT. DAISY’S HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS – LATE DAY, 1990 269

And we see Daisy in her bathrobe, in her sixties…
drinking a cup of coffee… the telephone rings…

(CONTINUED)

172.

269 CONTINUED: 269

DAISY
Hello?… Yes?… Speaking — I
don’t understand? Where was that?

270 INT. A TAXI, NEW ORLEANS – LATE DAY, 1990 270

We see Daisy riding in the back or a taxi.

DAISY
It’s the last house…

She looks outside, and we see up ahead of her, the Nolan
House standing like a monument to time…

271 EXT. NOLAN HOUSE – LATE – DAY, 1990 271

Daisy gets out. The taxi drives off. Daisy stops for a
moment before she opens the gate. The house has fallen
into disrepair. A solitary old man sits on the porch
rocking and rocking. She goes up the walk and out of
habit goes around the back porch… to the kitchen…
going inside…

272 INT. NOLAN HOUSE – LATE DAY, 1990 272

She comes into the kitchen. She moves down the hallway
into the living room… The interior has also fallen on
hard times. Some old people are still in residence —
predominantly African Americans now… Queenie’s
daughter, now in her fifties herself, stands in the
living room… Along with a plain Man in a plain suit…

DAISY
I’m Daisy…

The Man turns…

THE MAN
Thank you for coming… I’m David
Hernandez with the Orleans Parish
department of Child Welfare
Services.

Queenie’s daughter turns on a lamp… it doesn’t work…
she crosses the room to turn on another…

THE MAN (CONT’D)
He was found living in a condemned
building off of east Lamont… the
police found this with him… this
address… and your name…

And he gives her the journal…

(CONTINUED)

173.

272 CONTINUED: 272

THE MAN (CONT’D)
He was in very poor health… he
was taken to the hospital… He
doesn’t seem to know who or where
he is… He’s very confused… The
doctors who looked at him think he
may be autistic.

QUEENIE’S DAUGHTER
I told Mr. Hernandez about
Benjamin bein’ one of us. I told
him if he needs a place to stay…
it’s alright… he can stay
here… he is blood after all…

And just then we hear a PIANO playing… as if it were
being played by a child… with no skill… banging as
much as anything… And Daisy follows the sound of the
piano into the parlor…

273 INT. PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 1990 273

And she sees his back… just a boy of 12 now… hunched
over… trying to play the piano… trying to play the
tune the woman had taught to him…

DAISY
Benjamin.

He turns at the sound of her voice. There is no
indication he recognizes her at all.

BENJAMIN AT TWELVE
Do you know this song?

And he tries to play what he thinks is the song, but is
nothing more than a child playing random notes.

DAISY
You play really beautifully.

She comes and touches his back… He shrinks from her
touch.

THE MAN
He doesn’t seem to like to be
touched.

And while he tries to play…

(CONTINUED)

174.

273 CONTINUED: 273

THE MAN (CONT’D)
The doctors said if they didn’t
know any better, he goes in and
out of states of recognition, as
if he had the beginnings of
dementia…

Daisy’s looking at the boy, who was once the man she
loved… who she still loves… She looks into his
eyes…

DAISY
Do you remember me? I’m Daisy.

He looks at her. No sense of recognition.

BENJAMIN AT TWELVE
Daisy is a very pretty name. I’m
Benjamin.

DAISY
It’s good to meet you Benjamin.
Do you mind if I sit with you? I
would love to hear you play.

He doesn’t say anything. She sits down beside him on the
piano bench. He stops to look at her.

BENJAMIN AT TWELVE
There’s something about you…
There’s something about your eyes
I remember from a long time ago…

He looks at her eyes. She looks at him… And as she
sits with him on the piano bench… as he tries to
play… Daisy and Benjamin, “together again…”

274 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 274

DAISY
Queenie’s daughter saw to it that
he was taken care of…

275 INT. THE KITCHEN, NOLAN HOUSE – MORNING, 1994 275

And we see Benjamin, just eight now… coming into the
kitchen… Queenie’s daughter cleaning up after
breakfast.

BENJAMIN AT EIGHT
I want some breakfast.

(CONTINUED)

175.

275 CONTINUED: 275

QUEENIE’S DAUGHTER
You just ate breakfast.

BENJAMIN AT EIGHT
No I didn’t…

AN OLD WOMAN
You just finished eating, Mr.
Button.

BENJAMIN AT EIGHT
You think I don’t know what you
are doing?

And like an eight year old, or an old man old with onset
Alzheimer’s — which makes him nearly a helpless child,
he starts to rage… throwing things…

BENJAMIN AT EIGHT (CONT’D)
You are all fucking liars!

DAISY’S (V.0.)
And every day I would stop by…
and make sure he was
comfortable…

And just then Daisy comes into the kitchen. She sees him
raging.

QUEENIE’S DAUGHTER
He doesn’t believe he’s already
had his breakfast.

DAISY
Let’s see if we can find something
else for you to do.

BENJAMIN AT EIGHT
(upset, meaning
lapses)
I can’t help it. I can’t help
this.

DAISY
I know you can’t.

And as she puts her arm around him, taking him out of the
room, understanding…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
Many times he would simply forget
who and where he was at all…

176.

276 INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – DAY 276

We see Daisy sitting on a bed with Benjamin in his room
on the second floor of the old house… And he’s oddly
lucid…more articulate than his age would indicate…

BENJAMIN AT EIGHT
I get the feeling there’s a lot of
things I can’t remember…

DAISY
What do you mean?

BENJAMIN AT EIGHT
It’s like there’s this whole life
I had and I can’t remember what it
was…

He’s frustrated by it…

DAISY
It’s alright… It’s alright to
forget things…

And as she sits on his bed with him… in the upstairs
room…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
It wasn’t easy…

277 EXT. NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 1996 277

And we see Benjamin, no more than six now, standing on
the ROOF… Daisy standing on the ground down below
him…

DAISY
(nervous)
I wish you’d come down…

BENJAMIN AT SIX
(a little boy)
I can see everything.

And he points out…

BENJAMIN AT SIX (CONT’D)
I can see the big river… all the
boats… I can see the graveyard
where mama’s buried and all those
other people… I can see the
city… where you have your
dancing place…

(CONTINUED)

177.

277 CONTINUED: 277

And tears fill Daisy’s eyes…

DAISY
You’re right, you can see
everything sweetheart…

And he can… he can see all the way across to the
Mississippi River… the old graveyard… the city… his
whole life…

DAISY (CONT’D)
I think you better come down…

BENJAMIN AT SIX
What if I could fly?

And it looks like he might just try…

DAISY
(stopping him)
I knew a man who could fly. Come
down and I’ll tell you all about
him.

He’s quiet, thinking about that. And acquiescing, he
turns up the roof out of sight… some short
moments…and he comes running out the front door… his
hands in his pockets like the brave little man he is…
Daisy bends down… and as he runs into her arms… Daisy
holding him…

278 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 278

Daisy propped in her bed looking out the window…

DAISY
And I went to take care of him…

279 EXT. NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 1997 279

And we see Daisy, in her seventies now, carrying a
suitcase, coming up the walkway, and onto the porch…
old people sitting in the porch chairs…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
He was five, I think, when I moved
in… the same age I was when I
had met him…

And we see Benjamin, 5 now, sitting on the porch swing,
staring off… and he drools like a helpless old man.
Daisy stops, taking out a handkerchief, wiping the drool
off his chin…

(CONTINUED)

178.

279 CONTINUED: 279

DAISY
How would you like to help me
unpack?

280 INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 1997 280

Daisy, unpacking her suitcase with Benjamin’s help,
taking out an alarm clock, a quilt, some photographs…
The “Just So Book..” Her personal things… moving in…
Benjamin, playing with the alarm clock, making the alarm
go off… again, and again…

281 INT. BENJAMIN’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – NIGHT, 1997 281

Benjamin in a small child’s bed. Daisy, sitting on his
bed reading from Kipling’s “Just So” stories to him…

DAISY
This is the picture of old Man
Kangaroo at five in the afternoon,
when he got his beautiful hind
legs just as Big God Ngong had
promised.

DAISY’S (V.0.)
The days passed…

282 EXT. NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, THE FALL, 2000 282

And we see Benjamin, just three or so now, holding
Daisy’s hand, walking with her in some autumn leaves…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
I watched as he forgot how to
talk…

283 INT. NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, 2001 283

Benjamin almost two… sitting On Daisy’s lap in the
front room… and saying…

BENJAMIN AT ONE
Benjamin…
(points to her)
Daisy…

DAISY
That’s right… Benjamin and
Daisy…

Proud of himself he smiles…

(CONTINUED)

178A.

283 CONTINUED: 283

DAISY’S (V.0,)
…How to walk…

179.

284 INT. PARLOR, NOLAN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY, FALL, 2001 284

And we see him, just like a toddler, barely able to
stand… Daisy there to catch him from falling…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
I watched him sleep…

285 EXT. PORCH, NOLAN HOUSE – LATE DAY, 2002 285

Daisy, sitting on the porch on a rocking chair. Benjamin,
just a baby now, some months old, sleeping in her lap…

DAISY’S (V.0,)
In 2002, they put a new clock on
the train station wall…

286 INT. TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY 2002 286

And we see a workman on a ladder taking down the old
clock of “Mr. Cake’s”… handing it down to another
workman…and putting up a new clock… a digital
clock… The time moving… the way it’s meant to be…
going forward…

287 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 287

Daisy in her hospital bed… the wind howling at the
window…

DAISY
In the spring of 2003…

288 INT. BENJAMIN AND DAISY’S ROOM, NOLAN HOUSE – DAY, 2003 288

Shadows dapple the room. Daisy sitting in an old chair
in the middle of the room… with daylight streaming in
on her… holding Benjamin on her lap… a tiny thing
now… nearly newborn… he can almost fit in her two old
hands…

DAISY’S (V.0.)
He looked at me…

And we see him looking up at her…

DAISY’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
He looked into my eyes…

And we see him looking into her eyes…

(CONTINUED)

180.

288 CONTINUED: 288

DAISY’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
And he moved his fingers… and
with his little thumb he held my
thumb…

…and that’s just what he does… looking into Daisy’s
eyes…holding her thumb with his tiny hand…

DAISY’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
And as he had said… no matter
what age he was… he was the same
person behind his eyes… and, at
that moment I knew… he knew who
I was…

The baby staring into her blue eyes…

DAISY’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
And then he closed his eyes like
he was sleeping…

And we see his eyes flutter and softly close… forever.
And as he lays in his beloved Daisy’s lap… completely
still…

289 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM. NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 289

The wind a full out hurricane. The lights flicker. Stay
on.

CAROLINE
I’m going to see what they want us
to do…

And as she gets up, the “book” drops on the floor. And a
card’s fallen out. Caroline picks it up.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
It’s a train schedule.

She turns it over. There’s writing.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
“I’m on a train in India filled
with people.”

290 INT. A TRAIN SOMEWHERE IN INDIA – LATE AT NIGHT 290

An overcrowded train car… people sitting and standing
and lying on the seats and on the floor, in every
available space, nook and cranny, asleep.

(CONTINUED)

181.

290 CONTINUED: 290

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.)
I’m the only one who isn’t
sleeping…

Now we see Benjamin sitting on the floor among all of the
people, the only one awake, writing on the back of the
train schedule.

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
“I figured out one thing. If
you’re growing older or getting
younger it really doesn’t make any
difference. Whichever way you’re
going you have to make the most of
what this is.”

He looks at all the people sleeping around him…
strangers on a train…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.0.) (CONT’D)
“Along the way you bump into
people who make a dent on your
life… Some people… get struck
by lightning…”

291 EXT. SOMEWHERE 291

And we see just that… Mr. DAWS being struck by
lightning again…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“Some are born to sit by a river.”

292 EXT. RIVER 292

…And we see just that… Mr. Oti sitting by his
river…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“Some have an ear for music…”

293 INT. THE PARLOR 293

And we see the unnamed older woman playing the piano…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“Some are artists…”

294 EXT. TUGBOAT 294

…And we see Captain Mike… with his tattoos —
standing on his tug…

(CONTINUED)

182.

294 CONTINUED: 294

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“Some swim the English Channel…”

295 EXT. ENGLISH CHANNEL 295

…And we see Elizabeth Abbott doing just that…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“Some know buttons…”

296 INT. BUTTON FACTORY, NEW ORLEANS 296

…We see Thomas Button holding a button in the palm of
his hand…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“Some know Shakespeare…”

297 INT. KITCHEN, NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS 297

…Tizzy reciting Shakespeare…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“Some are mothers…

298 INT. NOLAN HOUSE, NEW ORLEANS 298

…Queenie pointing at him…

BENJAMIN BUTTON’S (V.O.)
“And some people can dance…”

299 INT. DANCE STUDIO 299

…And we see Daisy dancing… forever young…

300 INT. HOSPITAL ROOM, NEW ORLEANS – MORNING, PRESENT 300

CAROLINE
He started to write something
else… “I’m going…” But he
stopped…

She gently puts the card back.

CAROLINE (CONT’D)
I wish I had known him.

DAISY
Now you do.

They’re still. And the wind reminds her…

(CONTINUED)

183.

300 CONTINUED: 300

CAROLINE
I’d better go and see what they’re
planning to do…

Daisy nods. Caroline goes out of the room… It’s quiet.
Daisy’s alone now… looking out the window… at the
howling, hurricane… a hundred mile an hour fury… And
fighting against the wind, trying to reach the window is
a hummingbird… it almost makes it and is pushed back by
the gale… but undaunted, its wings doing a figure
eight… the symbol for infinity… it fights its way
through the wind to the window… tapping at the
window… and the hummingbird flies away… she watches
it go… and after some moments she says…

DAISY
Goodnight, Benjamin…

And she closes her eyes for the very last time… and
it’s dark… where it’s peaceful, even safe…

301 INT. TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY, PRESENT 301

We see the new clock high on the terminal wall running
the right way… going forward… and as the clock
turns… people hurrying to their destinations, living
their lives…

302 INT. STORAGE ROOM, TRAIN STATION, NEW ORLEANS – DAY 302

A storage room. Old track signs. Old waiting room
chairs. The discarded, and forgotten. And lying on its
side under an old tarpaulin — is “Mr. Cake’s” clock…
the angel still pushing the hands… running backwards…
forever…

FADE OUT:[amazonjs asin=”B003EVW5OG” locale=”JP” title=”ベンジャミン・バトン 数奇な人生 DVD”]




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