Craft Spotlight: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

David Fincher’s epic, haunting fable is ambitious on every level and a visual tour de force that spans eight decades and such varied settings as New Orleans, Paris, Russia and the Caribbean.

Production designer Donald Burt, costume designer Jacqueline West and special makeup effects artist Greg Cannom all report that consistency of tone and look, not the number of periods and locations, was the biggest challenge.

“David and I did a lot of research to make sure we stayed true to each period without overindulging,” says Burt, who collaborated with Fincher on “Zodiac.” “And we worked hard to ensure no one period leaped off the screen over another, yet you felt there was differentiation.”

“Overall, David wanted a very American look, so that the history of the country passes across the screen, but without distracting from the story,” adds West (Oscar-nominated for “Quills”). “And for Brad (Pitt), David wanted the Everyman look.” The key for West? Not to fall victim to fashion. “Style remains, fashion changes,” she notes, “so I focused on style.”

Cannom, Oscar winner for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” stresses that age makeup “is the hardest thing to do well, and David wanted it to be totally believable.” Recent development of “extremely thin transfer appliances” helped Cannom work his magic.

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