Benjamin Button And Shakespeare

Just say “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” last night, and it’s got Shakespeare in it. As a general movie rule I find that whenever a character says that he was raised on classics or learned to read from classics, a Shakespeare quote is coming.  So when “Tizzy” said, “I learned to read when I was five.  My grandfather was a dresser for a famous actor…”  I was expecting Shakespeare. What I got was this:

 "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."

I have to admit, I did not recognize it.  Though I kept the name “Edmund Mortimer” in my head to look up later.  The character Tizzy goes on to say that the “great actor” was John Wilkes Booth, who Shakespeare geeks will know was an accomplished Shakespearean actor in his own right.

Later in the movie, in a voice over about people’s purpose in life, the narrator does indeed say “Some know Shakespeare”, so I knew I had to find the reference.

Turns out, if you didn’t already recognize it, that it’s from Henry VI, Part One.


By the way I have no idea how accurate it is, but I was very surprised and pleased to find the entire script online!  Maybe it’s not perfect, but all I needed to do was recall the Shakespeare quote :).

One thought on “Benjamin Button And Shakespeare

  1. The reference to “dying Mortimer” reminded me immediately of John Mortimer, who passed away a couple of weeks ago, and whose Rumpole character was, I think, the most prolific quoter of Shakespeare we’ve seen for a long, long time. I read all the Rumpole books over the years as they came out, but my daughter gave me the complete video set of “Rumpole of the Bailey” for Christmas, and I’m working through them. There’s scarcely an episode in which Horace Rumpole doesn’t give us a few lines from one of the plays. My favorite is one of the more likely passages, the trial scene in Merchant of Venice in which Shylock begins to praise the judge who seems to be ruling in his favor. Rumpole quotes it when, to his surprise, a judge instructs a jury that the evidence requires a verdict for Rumpole’s client.

    I have a vague recollection that John Mortimer had Rumpole quote the “dying Mortimer” passage in one of the stories, but if so I haven’t run across it in the video episodes yet. Anyway, actor Leo McKern as Rumpole delivering lines from The Merchant or Julius Caesar is absolutely precious.

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