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Writer sues over The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Book.jpgI'm confused, but I thought the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1921 short story. Not according to an office worker in Italy who is claiming that in 1994 he wrote the short story that the film was based on.

It's extremely hard to prove these cases, and if the film-makers aren't guilty of the crime it must be extremely frustrating and disappointing for them to have made this film and someone else pop-up and claim they were the ones who originally came up with the idea.

Imagine the chances though? Wouldn't you consider that someone could come up with the same story in two different places in the world some seventy-three years apart? Actually I don't know how different this story is from the F. Scott Fitzgerald, nor how different the film is from either, but the idea of someone ageing in reverse wouldn't be an entirely original concept could it? Especially across that sort of time period?

According to MSNBC Il ritorno di Arthur all'innocenza (Arthur's Return to Innocence) is a short story that Adriana Pichini, who is an office worker in Italy, wrote some fifteen years ago and was copyrighted in Italy and sent to some U.S. publishers, and he's now claiming that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is based on his story, not Fitgerald's.

Papers have been filed with an Italian Judge which mean that he will watch the film, read the story, and decide if there are enough similarities to begin a court case. If there are it seems that so far Pichini is not after financial damages, this is more about reputation. However if the Judge decides it's going forward I bet it suddenly becomes about damages and hard cash.

Now just imagine for a second that Pichini based his story on Fitzgerald's short story, whether deliberately or not, let's just imagine that for a moment. Since the film-makers said they did the same and the report says that the Judge is only going to read Pichini's short story and watch the film, wouldn't they be very similar if that were the case?

I find these claims very hard to take, and I'm sure the Judge's involved have a really hard time. How do you tell which is the real answer? The imaginary scenario I outlined above could well be true, as could the claim from Pichini, so how could you tell the difference? How can writers and film-makers on either side of the fence truly protect themselves from such situations?



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