Friday, April 5, 2013

Why I'm Not Excited About The Great Gatsby

I love The Great Gatsby. It's one of the most flawless books I've ever read. Everything about it is outstanding - the prose, the characterization, the subtlety and pervasiveness of its message. I love the book so much I have a t-shirt of its famous cover.

Looks like this!
There's been a few attempts at making a Gatsby film over the years, but the current one about to come out is being anticipated as possibly the "defining" movie for the book the way that Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations are the best possible movies a lover of the series could ask for.

Here's the trailer.

Hear that whooshing sound? That would be the sound of $125 million worth of missing the point.

Everything about this movie is calculated to be sumptuous and beautiful. It's evident everywhere from the sweeping camera shots to the ornate gold filigree background of the text to the gorgeous scenery shots of breathtaking gardens, mansions, and cities. The characters are beautiful too, of course - Leonardo DiCaprio has had the ladies swooning since he was king of the world, and Carey Mulligan has a hauntingly fragile perfection, like a porcelain doll. The clothes are works of art. Even the emotions are grand and breathtaking, from Gatsby's overwhelming rage to his Romeo and Juliet style love affair with Daisy. And let's not forget the soundtrack ($15.99, on iTunes soon!) crammed full of today's most popular artists, and as MTV so gracefully put it, not "bogged down with tunes from the Roaring Twenties".

So basically, nothing about this movie resembles The Great Gatsby in the slightest.

The Great Gatsby is a book about the false glamour of the Jazz Age. (Do you hear me, movies?! "False glamour" is not the same thing as "glamour" and I am very tired of you assuming one is an excuse for the other.) It uses a fundamentally flawed and hollow goal - Gatsby's baseless love of and admiration for Daisy, which she doesn't deserve and isn't capable of returning - to illustrate the decayed social and moral values of American society in the Roaring Twenties.

Everyone in the book is in love with the wrong things. Gatsby wants all the things that are bad for him - money, power, a beautiful woman with an empty mind. Daisy is seduced by money, luxury, and easy living, and just bright enough to realize how meaningless this makes her life, but too lazy to care. Her husband Tom wants all eyes on him all the time; he wants universal awe and respect and genuinely doesn't realize that he's done nothing to earn it.

The eyes see everything except the point!
This movie is pretty eye candy that glamorizes a tragedy of human nature. It misses the point of The Great Gatsby so badly that it's not even in the same postal code anymore.

Am I taking this too seriously? Well, I mean, I guess you could say that. But the movie is out there purporting itself to be The Great Gatsby when it's actually Hey Look the 1920s Were Super Pretty. This isn't Fitzgerald; this is Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette set 120 years later.

Do you really think that the moral at the end of this movie is going to be "move to the Midwest and structure your life with traditional moral values"? Um, I doubt it. I can just about guarantee you that the end of this movie is going to be, "oh these two characters had such promise and were such bright sparks of life, and everything was thrown away! What a shame, what a pity, what a tragedy".

The book The Great Gatsby is a masterpiece that examines the falseness of human desires and the decline of the American Dream.

The movie The Great Gatsby is the story of a couple morons having a really expensive party on Long Island.


  1. Well put Selma. I think the movie is clearly trying to be LOTR epic (as evidenced by the piecemeal trailer where there is supposed to be forward movement throughout multiple stories and so much going on) but fundamentally it's going to be an extravagant love story.

    I find the music very disappointing... maybe they figured the younger audience would hear 20s music and describe it as more comical and less serious? Pity.


  2. When/where did you find this tshirt. I've been looking for one for a while, but now that it's gotten popular, I can't find my size anywhere.