Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"The Great Gatsby" on the Silver Screen



You know how an idea seems brilliant until you actually see it come to fruition? That's The Great Gatsby.

The book is . . . incredibly detailed, with minute little moments of sorrow and depression and beauty that can make you weep for the gloriousness of it all. Fitzgerald, whatever else he might have been, was a remarkable writer and no one will convince me otherwise. A sinner, oh yes undoubtedly, but a skilled artisan of his craft just the same.

It only stands to reason that a book which highlights depravity in the 1920s would eventually make it to the Silver Screen. I'm good with that idea. Except for the follow-through! Has anyone seen the trailer yet? It's on the main page of IMDB and I encourage you to watch it. It's like a massacre of Fitzgerald's original work. I love Leonardo DiCaprio but he is one of the last actors on God's green earth I imagined playing Gatsby. I think I had Jeremy Irons or Jason Isaacs in mind when they were younger. I wouldn't have been averse to an Englishman playing Gatsby. Leo just does not fit the role and Tobey Maguire fits the role of Nick Carraway even less.

I love the book because I analyze it and pity the characters and sense what is missing in their lives, mainly God. That's because it's not displayed on the Silver Screen for all to see, admire, and worship. I know the Roaring Twenties were morally bankrupt. I might even be able to watch a film of The Great Gatsby if it were done right. But this, pardon the word, feels like a complete bastardization of Fitzgerald's original work. It's like the clothing doesn't fit the body of his work.

Don't get me wrong, I imagine it will be a magnificent triumph. Just a pathetic misrepresentation of The Great Gatsby. *sighs* Darn you, Hollywood, when will you ever leave well enough alone!?

One Extra Thought

In the case of The Great Gatsby it's original setting is one that is very clinical, very cold, and very distant because it is all from Nick's perspective. Now, maybe the actual movie reflects that but the trailer really doesn't. Instead we have confetti flying all over the place and everyone looking like they're having a great time when really the book is a tale of loneliness and how you can be in a great whirl of humanity and still be dreadfully alone. That message is better communicated if the filming keeps to the original novel. Instead we may have another Romeo + Juliet on our hands where the only decent thing in the entire film was Leo and Claire. Oh boy, I hope not.

7 comments:

  1. I've not seen this as a film adaptation or read the book, so I suspect it won't bother me a bit that Hollywood is "butchering" it. It isn't a story that interests me a lot but I think Carey is a great up-and-coming star, so I am curious - plus it will be pretty! =)

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    1. One thing I would recommend before seeing the movie is reading the book. I usually try to do that with most films which is probably why most Nicholas Sparks books are so much better than their film counterparts.

      For a story of this magnitude both sides of the coin should probably be seen. I'll see the movie, probably on DVD, but I will see it. And I could be completely wrong and it's just a horrendous trailer while the movie is good. I'll just have to wait and see.

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  2. I haven't read the book, but I saw an A&E film with Tobey Stephens as Gatsby a number of years ago and hated the plot. Now that I'm older, I should read the book, and see if my initial conclusion (that it is a depressing, morally bankrupt story) is correct. I'm not sure what I think of the big screen adaptation, since you can't tell a lot from the trailer.

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    1. No, your impression is quite correct. It is a depressing, morally bankrupt plot. Throw in decadent and you've hit the nail on the head. Maybe that's why I love it. Because it makes no bones about this being a depraved lifestyle and that consequences occur because of it. Of course sometimes I'm a bit crazy with the novels I like. LOVED "The Turn of the Screw" for example and that has a depressing ending too, especially you're never sure if the children are being possessed or if the governess is simply insane. Creepy!

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    2. Well, coming from a morally bankrupt writer like Fitzgerald, that isn't surprising.

      You should see (edited) "The Turn of the Screw" adaptation with Michelle Dockery while you are visiting me sometime. It is SCARY. AS. HELL.

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    3. I would LOVE to see a "Turn of the Screw" adaptation. I saw one called "The Innocents" that was filmed in, I guess, the 50s but it's been a long time. A scary version would be awesome!

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    4. There's one with Colin Firth and Jodhi May in it, but it's hard to track down. (You may be able to get it from Netflix, I haven't checked -- I saw it a long time ago, on VHS!) The one with Michelle Dockery was never released here, and is a bit graphic in places, but it is also downright creepy. I'm pretty sure I still have it, but I'll double check. (Ironically, it also has Dan Stevens in it. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME, BBC?? I cannot handle all the Dan Stevens goodness!)

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