The Great Gatsby Movie My Cup of Tea Old Sport!
The Great Gatsby Movie Review
The Great Gatsby teased my eyes almost a year ago to this day I believe. Just to think The Great Gatsby, the only book I actually enjoyed reading in high school was about to take on the challenge of becoming a blockbuster hit. Baz Luhrmann‘s attempt at bringing F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel The Great Gatsby to life may have been bashed by film critics however most people I talk to find it to be exquisite. Sure one can get lost in the glitz and glam of the elaborate cast, stunning scenery, interesting musical choice, and the over the top special effects, however one never loses the meaning of the message during The Great Gatsby movie.
The Great Gatsby is foundated on the American Dream, the American drive that you can have everything, money, parties, fast cars, big houses; you can have it all if you never give up. What we fail to grasp is that the things that lie right in front of us, love, happiness, reality; they cannot be bought by money. Rather they are attained when we are no longer chasing the American Dream, when we just appreciate living in the moment, basking in the sun of the present.
Like I said film critics everywhere were quick to deny the masterpiece The Great Gatsby that fans ranted and raved about across the internet platforms such as Fandango and IMDB. One such critic from AreYouScreening.com stated this about The Great Gatsby “the book is mostly Nick Carraway’s thoughts on obsession, indulgence, and the odd nature of what we wish for. None of it is exactly well-suited for the screen, especially because the book gets its real power from Nick seeing it, not you.” blasted the character transformation from novel onto the big screen.
Sorry I don’t buy it. Perhaps this critic did not read The Great Gatsby the way I did. But than again critics are inclined to destroy the American Dream, not live it. This critic fails to realize, Nick Carraway is often related to Fitzgerald himself, seeing the innocence and hope lost amongst the corrupted and bitter individuals. Fitzgerald understood not only that true beauty is more than skin deep and money will never be able to buy true happiness. Long story short, The Great Gatsby holds a mirror up to us, showing that Americans are encompassed by the American Dream whether they know it or not. Every single one of us will want something that we can never have and in the end we either die trying tto live the dream or awaken to the nightmare that a dream is all it can ever be.
Why do I think that Luhrmann hit the nail on the head? Well first off he didn’t undervalue Nick Carraway; the second biggest (if not most important) character in Fitzgerald’s novel. In 1922 a young bright eyed, Nick Carraway gathered up his hope and ellaborate dreams and moved from the midwest to just outside of New York City in what was identified as “West Egg” Long Island. Now, this is where we see the importance of a casting director. Tobey Maguire screams Nick Carraway with those wide deep brown eyes, naive sense and a persona of hope cloaked by innocence. Now I will admit, I am a major fan of Tobey Maguire, moreover I find myself entranced to Fitzgerald’s character, Nick Carraway.
Another far fetched opinion of mine perhaps but still I am throwing it out there. Robert Redford may have played a great Jay Gastby, but Leonardo DiCaprio is Jay Gatsby. Golden boy of America, a star actor, age 38 Leo has it all, minus a life, love and a home that he can enjoy. Constantly on set, Leo has often balanced major movies at the same time or back to back. Look at his recent schedule, DJango, Gatsby and the anticipated Wolf of Wall Street set to debut in November of 2013.
Jay Gatsby dedicates his life to attain the mansion, the car, the clothes, and sure we all enjoy watching this come alive but how many of you asked why did he insist on living this way? A quick background on The Great Gatsby aka Jay Gatsby for those who didn’t know. Born under the name James Gatz, as a child he was prone to live a life through his dreams. Literally living under poverty’s roof in the Midwest, Gatz decided to run away from his two parents and the quickly approaching barren future he was destined to live. Now both The Great Gatsby as Fitzgerald’s novel and Luhrmann’s film bestow the truth behind Jay Gatsby’s past rather late in the game. Why? Well we will get to that later. In the film it is said that Jay Gatsby is born the moment that James Gatz sees a way out of the inevitable poverty, finding fortune in turmoil; literally. Falling victim to a violent storm, millionaire Dan Cody succombs to his fate as his yacht is mercilessly tossed amongst the rocks and waves just below the cliff that James Gatz is standing upon. Taking a leap of faith, or perhaps one can argue Gatz would have rather died chasing millions over living a life of poverty, the young man ventures into the tumoltuous surf and rescues Cody. Sure that he will inherit the millionaire’s fortune, Jay Gatsby studies Dan Cody and learns what it takes to play the part of the millionaire. Now is born, the Great Gatsby!
Then we have characters such as Daisy Buchanon, the love interest of Jay Gatsby and the reason why he needed to become rich (because loving her just could never have been enough) and her husband Tom Buchanon. Daisy and Tom were the leading stars of the American Dream. To me Tom Buchanon is the American Dream, absorbing every single individual in it’s path, never being anything more to people than an empty promise. Cheating on his wife Daisy, carrying on an affair with Myrtle Wilson, leading a double life, never wanting to give any of it up, yet never appreciating anything that he had. Everything and everyone were just material things that could be bought or sold.
Daisy Buchanon played by Carey Mulligan in Luhrmann’s film (who of which gave an impeccable performance) captured hearts only to crush them. Making her the evil character in the Great Gatsby. Both her and Tom were careless, wrecking the lives of others without ever showing any emotion or indifference. As long as they had their lifestyle what did it matter right? Well we learn that Daisy Buchanon fell victim to true love years before her marriage with Tom. Daisy and Jay Gatsby had met while he was a soldier in the war. Promising to wait for him Daisy never wanted to marry Tom, it was only until she realized Gatsby was not returning to her that she would have too. But how could she leave the old safe money she had come into for a swindler like Gatsby? For a fortune built on lies and corruption? I guess she would rather have the guy who decieved her because she knew exactly how her life would play out, then to have the guy who truly loved her and risk losing everything monetary she had come to know.
Now let’s get onto the stage. Both of which the novel and film shared, despite what critics say. Luhrmann’s film was nothing short of ridiculous but that is just the thing. The Great Gatsby has been a green light to cinematic masterminds for sometime now. Francis Ford Coppola transformed the novel into a screenplay and in 1974 under director Jack Clayton Robert Redford took the screen as Jay Gatsby beside Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanon. IMDB users put the movie at a 6.2 out of 10 and perhaps it is because F. Scott Fitzgerald had a different message in mind when he wrote the novel. The head tagline used for the 1974 film was “A Midwesterner becomes fascinated with his nouveau riche neighbor, who obsesses over his lost love.” Interesting. After reading the book three times, I never once got this meaning from it, nor did my english professor.
I believe it fair to speak my opinion that F. Scott Fitzgerald never intended for the The Great Gatsby to fall under the literary category of Romance. Rather he wrote it as a great American novel, one that years may add on too, but the message will stay forever young, that America was built on the American Dream, that no matter how much one has, it just never is enough. That is why this story and the character Jay Gatsby is in my eyes an enigma. For those of you who have heard the word but are not quite sure what it means, an enigma is something hard to understand or explain or a mysterious person.
F. Scott Fitzgerald capitivated minds throughout history because his novel was an enigma. Painting a picture in the minds of his readers, making them fall in love with this dashing young handsome Jay Gatsby. Sure a few would wonder if their was more to him, however the majority of Fitzgerald’s readers were like the guests at Gatsby’s parties. Never written a personal invitation and never caring whether or not the host was present, just that the liquor was stocked. Funny how Gatsby never called anyone by their first names either, except Daisy. Old Sport was his way of addressing people. Nick Carraway thought of Gatsby as his personal friend, however even Gatsby eluded Nick until he finally gave him the truth of his past. Never asking anyone for anything, Gatsby kept his distance from people. Therefore Fitzgerald invited many of us to drink from the glass of Gatsby, playing with our emotions as he revealed the true persona behind the young millionaire. Showing us life is a stage upon which dreams can become reality, however it is never big enough to live upon forever.
When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby perhaps he was preparing a warning to all those in danger of falling victim to the tantalizing American Dream, aka the Green Light. Obsessed with the green light, this was a representation of the years that would come and go in front of Gatsby, all the while promising something great however just out of reach. It beckoned him, lost somewhere in the fog, he knew it was there yet he could never seem to grasp it. Just like Daisy Buchanon.
The Great Gatsby is strewn with hidden meanings. The Valley of Ashes, where Myrtle Wilson lives with her husband Greg Wilson, shows how there is a lifeless, waste yard right outside a booming glorious city. Funny enough you must pass through the Valley of Ashes in order to get to and from New York City and Long Island. No one is so good that they are excused from having to step foot in this valley. Ironically Tom Buchanon’s mistress resides here.
“The eyes of God” preside over this land as seeing everything that goes on. Greg Wilson a common poor soul believes in God and claims that he sees all. Yet it is by Wilson’s gun that Gatsby dies. A good Christian goes and kills the man who supposedly killed his wife? And than shoots himself? While Tom Buchanon goes on living? The American Dream stops for no one nor does it miss those who once chased it. It moves on, consuming all those down its path. For some like Wilson he was happy with his wife, his garage and his faith, however for others like Tom and Daisy that happiness could never be attained.
Gatsby’s car was a large yellow monstrosity, one of a kind, like Gatsby himself. When Gatsby was behind the wheel it was transformed into a gorgeous beckoning toy, but when Tom drove the same car it became gaudy, materialistic and quite ugly to me. Gatsby let Daisy drive the car home the night that Myrtle Wilson ran out at them. Daisy never fessed up, only Nick and Gatsby knew the truth about his cousin’s wreckless and carefree driving. Who knows, perhaps she was the one who put the foot to the gas and left, Gatsby would have never said he tried to stop her. He loved her, so blindly that he did not even see the puppet she had become.
In the film we also notice that Daisy’s long flowing blonde hair was cut short once she was married to Tom. Does this perhaps symbolizes her once carefree life now fell under the tight controlling hold of Tom Buchanon? Another interesting thing I noticed was the white curtains that seemed to dance upon the wind, wrecklessly, freely in the porch area that Daisy lounged upon. Tom never appreciated it but Daisy longed for it.
If you ask me the Great Gatsby may not have wooed the critics, but than again how many movies do? If you are looking to get the same magic and marvel that Fitzgerald achieved in his book than I highly recommend the film. If you are a steadfast believer that a novel should be easily converted into a film than please go crawl under a rock and stay there. Nothing will ever be identical, however I believe that Luhrmann utilized both Maguire and DiCaprio in transforming his vision of the Great Gatsby and painting it cinematically before us.