Gatsby vs. Gatsby vs. Gatsby

 I have loved F. Scott Fitzgerald since I first read This Side of Paradise. To me, and throngs of others, Fitzgerald’s description of a generation lost  to the shallowness of the pursuit of the American dream has been a cautionary tale. That sentence right there has more depth then the entirety of the new movie’s story telling.  

Thinking of Fitzgerald’s works, including the high school mandated Great Gatsby, as a warning against the frail beauty money can buy, I was curious about Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby. The advertisements for the movie looked like they were trying to sell yachting clothes, but curiosity killed the cat and my hope for this movie. 

Step One: 

I re-read the book.  I took down my well loved copy of Gatsby (that I purposely forgot to return to my high school English teacher) and fell in love with Fitzgerald all over again.

In high school, my teacher tried to push the notion of the green light as a symbol of wealth and while I still have my doubts, I am certain Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby is a love story between a man and his status–a man and his idea of his status. The main characters all seem to have met someone as careless as themselves and in their coming together there is a maze of vanity, lust, egotism, money, and emotional poverty.  

Nick, the less than omnipresent narrator, makes the story. As the narrator, Nick allows readers to build the character of Gatz into Gatsby as the story progresses. Through what Hemingway fans call the overly detailed descriptions, readers are able to experience the slow motion collision of Tom and Daisy who “smash up things and creatures and then retreat back in the money or their vast carelessness.” (179) This retreat leaves in its wake the most frail character, Gatsby.

 The magic of this novel is that the only love story is between status and recognition. Gatsby’s love of Daisy is an indulgence in his own ego. Daisy’s love of Tom is a love of lifestyle.   Tom’s love of Daisy is that of trophy admiration. And Nick is well the only honest one of them, right? To bad this little nuance escaped Luhrmann in his quest to create the most colorful love story since Moulin Rouge. 

 Readers are left with a sense longing because when Gatsby fails the connection between wealth and attainment seem to fail. The party is over.

Step Two:

I re-watched the original movie. The 1974 Jack Clayton directed The Great Gatsby also came courtesy of my High School English teacher, who remains a source of inspiration . However, at the time I was too busy trying to figure out t9 texting and missed the subtle differences between the book and film.images

The film does a good job capturing the superficiality of relationships that float around the Egg, but because everything is so without explanation it requires viewers to have read the book.

One aspect the movies covers extensively is the love affair between Gatsby and Daisy. For what the book reduces to a line “Daisy comes over quite often in the afternoons,” the movie shows lounging, dancing, and kissing ( the latest move goes further). The movie portrays the two as so close it shocking when Daisy doesn’t run away with her love toy. But those who read the book will know the author leaves the depth of their romance unknown because it was likely unknown to the characters themselves. But who watches a movie for repressed physical desires? Certainly not Baz. 

There is of course also the movement of scenes and difference in conversation partner, but that is to be expected in any adaptation and besides all the crucial parts are still there.

Overall I would go 4 of 5 stars. And did so on Netflix.

 Step Three:

I watched the Baz Luhrmann movie. I sighed.

Seriously, what in the hell was this? 

Fitzgerald’s Gatsby was a beautiful tragedy of the  failure of wealth. Luhrmann’s Gatsby was a hard-fought and painfully tragic love story. BIG DIFFERENCE.

The movie reminded me of his other  two movies: Romeo+Juliet and Moulin Rouge lots of color, lots of movement, lots of adaptation of a someone else’s brilliance. The problem with this movie is that Baz Luhrmann is not a critical reader. I will restrain myself from calling this man an idiot and “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that [I’ve] had.” By the way that line didn’t make it in the movies.

 Luhrmann’s film seems to disregard much of the subtlety that makes Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby a classic. No longer are the characters egotistical maniacs with money to blow they are soft sentimental characters.


So now you are supposed to pity Daisy who was too weak, rather than too vain, to follow her great love. Fine. Then why maintain Fitzgerald’s quality of making her so distant and shallow? Then why keep the line about hoping her daughter being a “pretty little fool?” Seems like the inclusion of her mediation on her daughter should mean something since her daughter is only in the movie once.

You are supposed to believe Gatsby loves Daisy? Then why focus on how he won’t run away with her? Seems that would be the opportune thing to do…unless of course Gatsby had something to prove.

 Overall, this movie is gorgeous, but it is certainly not the telling of classic.

Other things I HATED:

  • Said I haven’t taken a swim all summer twice.
    • Thanks for the over foreshawdowing.
  • Omitted Tom calling the dog a bitch
    • otherwise whats the point of the dog? I already knew he had 10 bucks.
  • Makes it seems a though Daisy was going to call
    • She didn’t call for the funereal but she was going to call before? Who does that?
  • Told Wilson Gatsby was the driver within earshot of the cops—-dumb
  • Didn’t include Mr. Gatz coming to the funeral
    • His father is supposed to reveal his true beginnings
  • Didn’t include Nick’s drive with Jordan and the conversation about “careless” people
    • That is the set up for the ending. You kept one so keep both.
  • Showed Tom in a bootleg bar without explanation for how he got there
    • He belittles bootleggers yet he is one? Please explain.
  • Showed Newspaper’s covered with Gatsby’s face, he was unknown to every party guest
    • That is just stupid

 Netflix rating: 2 of 5

Step Four:

I posted this.


In literal/literary disappointment  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s