Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Great Gatsby was GREAT!!!

The Great Gatsby is one of my three favorite books of all time.

--Gatsby
--Cider House Rules
--Lord of the Rings

I know, it's a weird mix. But Gatsby is RIGHT THERE with the best books of my life!

I read it as a junior in high school, and I thought I was going to hate it. Really. I just thought it was going to be boring and hard to wade through and all of those horrible things that students assume. But what I found was so rich and well written and screwy and an intriguing portrait of one of my fave time periods in American history. And it's about the dark side of the American dream -- especially when you're a kid and you've been stuffed full of the light, chirpy, everyone-can-pull-themselves-up-with-boot-straps version of the American dream. It was dark but amazing. It was a turning point in my reading life.

And I've re-read it five times. Going on six. I started it again after I saw the film this weekend.

And the long-awaited, snarkily-anticipated, bated breath film. I LOVED IT!!!

Ok, so here's some backstory. I've been in love with Baz Luhrmann since Romeo and Juliet. I loved that he took what was a tragedy on paper and blew it up to gargantuan proportions so that every viewer could feel the gut-wrenching sadness in that book. Anyone who watched R+J felt the pain in that story. My freshman students at that time didn't feel the pain on paper. The majority struggled through the reading.  But they could watch that film, which very closely followed the text, and feel the tragedy of it in a new way that they would have completely missed before.

Gatsby is a dark story. It's about a time in history full of intrigue and illicit behavior and sweeping change; a novel full of opulence and uncertainty, selfishness and self-destructiveness. What Luhrman has done is take Fitzgerald's excellent story and blown it up to spectacular proportions. And I appreciate him magnifying the tale into a visual, musical, nuanced extravaganza. It's what I love about him as an auteur.

From the New York Times today:
Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is lurid, shallow, glamorous, trashy, tasteless, seductive, sentimental, aloof, and artificial. It’s an excellent adaptation, in other words, of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s melodramatic American classic. Luhrmann, as expected, has turned “Gatsby” into a theme-park ride. But he’s done it in exactly the right way. 
While I had concerns about DiCaprio as Gatsby, it all worked great. I loved Mulligan as Daisy, and Joe Edgerton, as Tom Buchanan, really brought that character to life for me.

There were moments that it was overacted (the scene where Daisy and Gatsby reunite at Nick's place), but overall it fell in line with the rest of the production. And there were moments that I found much more emotionally touching in the film that I did in the text (Gatsby explaining his need repeat the past to Nick and tearing up).

Symbolism? I couldn't forget it. The eyes of T.J. Eckleburg were just as haunting as in the book. Yellow as a symbol for wealth and ultimately death. Time, time, time. All there. All gorgeous.

One of the big issues of contention from the moment the trailer started running seems to be in some of the soundtrack choices. The very first trailer featured Jay Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild" and people went nuts. I actually bought the soundtrack over the weekend, and I could not be more smitten with it. I love the mixture of hip hop  rap, pop, sweeping ballads, and full-on drama. It really expresses the pounding, frenetic pace of the film and the amplification of the action.

What? I'm gushing? Yeah, I kinda am. I can't wait to watch it again.





27 comments:

  1. I saw it on Monday and absolutely loved it! Always a fan of Baz Luhrmann and he certainly didn't disappoint!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen!!!! Glad you loved it, too.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. And I can't wait to find out what you think of it!

      Delete
  3. Oh yes -- I loved it, too! SQUEE! It was hard to write a full-blown post about it because I just wanted to be like GLITTER and JAZZ AGE and LEO and LITERARY SYMBOLISM. And sorry for "yelling" like that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't help but yell. Seriously, could not reign myself in. lol

      Delete
  4. So glad to read this, because so far I've heard negative reviews. Yay!! (I haven't seen it yet)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't believe a word of it, Monika! Get thee to the theatre!

      Delete
  5. Now I'm definitely going to go and see this. I'm just about to finish a re-read of the book (not read for ages), and it's much better than I remembered. Looking forward to seeing how the film differs now... Thanks!
    liz in texas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I looooooove the book. It gets better every time, and I can't say that of too many books. lol

      Delete
  6. Awesome review, Andiloo. Can't wait to see the movie. Still haven't located my copy of the book. Grr.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate it when they hide like that! I hope you find your book soon and have a chance to go enjoy the movie. :D

      Delete
  7. It's been really fun seeing reviews from people who liked the movie! After all the initial negative reactions, I was worried. Now I'm excited to see it again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay!!!! I hope you can stay excited and that you enjoy it as much as I did!

      Delete
  8. I was on the fence with seeing this, but you've talked me into it. I can't wait to see it now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you like it, Amanda!

      Delete
  9. I love your enthusiasm, Andi! My husband hasn't shut up about this movie since we saw it last week. He loved it so much which shocks the hell out of me. I'm not sure it's my perfect Gatsby yet, but I think it will grow on me over time. I really need to get on buying the soundtrack!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Brooke! I'm surprised! I figured most guys would resist going to see it. I guess there's something in it for everyone. ;)

      Delete
  10. Good to know, I haven't seen it yet but I'm more excited now!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I loved it too! I've been a big Baz fan for awhile and I thought it was interesting how many similarities there were between this and his other movies. The party scene where Romeo and Juliet meet by the fish tank and the scene where Daisy and Gatsby meet. There's the same intensity. Also the scene where Nick gets drunk at the party and the scene in Moulin Rouge with the absinthe. Loved it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melissa, same here! Love Baz's movies, and I love seeing what carries over from one to the next.

      Delete
  12. That's quite an endorsement! I listened to the audio quite a few years ago and couldn't get into it. I know I need to try again. Maybe the movie will inspire me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know they just did a new audio version with Jake Gyllenhaal reading! I bet it's dreamy.

      Delete
  13. Yes yes yes!!! I didn't want to read your post before I saw the movie because I already had such preconceived expectations for this one based on the previous Baz movies that I've seen and LOVED. It's funny that you mention the overacting in the reunion scene because my heart felt like it was going to stop in those moments and I actually started crying (let's blame the hormones). The movie was beautifully done and I agree that it really helps one FEEL the book. I just finished listening to it a few weeks ago and it breaks my heart every time. The movie was no exception. I couldn't help but wonder what Fitz would have thought of the movie...

    My only complaint? That the songs from the soundtrack did not play out more fully. Sure there were snippets here and there but those songs fit so powerfully within the context of the movie and I wanted more!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I adored it, too. I've actually grown more smitten since I saw it when it first came out and plan on seeing it again this weekend. It's one of the few book adaptations that actually FEELS like the piece it was taken from. Ugh, I could talk about it forever.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm 100% in agreement with you on this one. I love he book -- it's one of my favorites too! -- and I loved the movie. I got to actually teach the novel this year so when I went into the movie, I loved that it does such a beautiful job reinforcing everything that I taught my kids about the book. The corruption, the opulence, the SYMBOLS. Even better, all the key quotes that we discuss in class are all IN THE MOVIE! It was brilliant and I can't wait to buy it and watching over and over again. I'm excited to teach the book again next year and use this as a resource. And while at first, I wasn't sold ont he music, I too bought the soundtrack and kind of fell in love. I like the way the modern music blends with the 20's music to reveal that not all that much has really changed between now and then. The problems that ruined Gatsby's dream affect all of us today in different ways.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment! Blogger has been a beast lately, so I hope you do not have any troubles leaving your thoughts.

 
Images by Freepik