In 1998, senior year, my friend Stephanie and I chose to read and present “The Great Gatsby” to our English class. We passed out candy cigarettes/cigars and sparkling grape juice in plastic cocktail glasses, hung colorful balloons, and played jazz music. Clearly our focus was on the superficial party aspect of the novel. Regardless, from that moment on, I was a Fitzgerald fan. I’ve read “The Great Gatsby” several times over the years; most recently a few nights ago. After I closed the book, I said to my husband, “I don’t remember the book being so sad.” He replied, “It means different things during different times in your life. All great art allows you to relate to it as an observer. The meaning changes depending on what’s going on in your life.” I love his take on it!
I think Richard Roeper, a Sun-Times Columist says it beautifully as well:
“As is often the case with that other slim and brilliant American novel, “The Catcher in the Rye,” we are given the assignment of reading “The Great Gatsby” when we are too young to appreciate all that is happening, on the pages and between the lines. Read those books again when you’ve lived some life and felt some real pain, and it’s like you’re reading them for the first time.”
In a nut shell, I love the novel and I love the movie. The main difference is that in the movie, Nick Carraway tells the story (and ultimately writes it) of Gatsby to a psychiatrist during his stint in a mental asylum. In my opinion, this difference did not distract from the novel.
What I loved the most:
- Stunning Cinematography: Director Baz Luhrmann (Also directed “Romeo and Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge”) Over-the-top but brilliant. As the film progresses, the colors lose their brilliance, just as Gatsby’s hope of rekindling the past diminishes.
- Phenomenal Cast: Leonardo Di Caprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan (My favorite part of the movie is when Gatsby sees Daisy for the first time in five years; for this is where he sheds the great Jay Gatsby persona and reverts back to James Gatz- an awkward but genuine boy from the Midwest.
- Gorgeous Soundtrack: Some of these songs tug at your heartstrings. In fact, as the credits rolled, the audience sat in silence for several seconds; as if all of us needed a moment to process the beautiful heartbreak of the film. (I believe it was the song “XX” by Together)
Here’s a sample:
Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful:”
“Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful? Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?”
Beyonce feauturing Andre 3000: “Back to Black.” Remix of Amy Winehouse song. Super sexy, slowed down version.
Florence and the Machine “Over the Love”
“There’s a green light in my eyes and my lover on my mind”
The White Stripes “Love is Blindness” (cover of U 2 song)
“Love is blindness, I don’t wanna see.”
Sia “Kill and Run”
“My brain doesn’t want to silent call for you.”
For a track by track review, check out:
If you’re a fan of “The Great Gatsby,” I recommend the movie “Midnight in Paris”