Home > Uncategorized > THE GREAT GATSBY/2013 FILM: It isn’t great and it isn’t the “The Great Gatsby”/book/1974 FILM

THE GREAT GATSBY/2013 FILM: It isn’t great and it isn’t the “The Great Gatsby”/book/1974 FILM

 THE GREAT GATSBY has been in my heart and mind since 1970 when it was assigned reading in Mr. Ehrlich’s English class in 8th. Grade at Carrie Palmer Weber Jr. High in Port Washington, Long Island, N.Y.

Port Washington, N.Y. was my home from 1967-1978.  The Sands Point sector of Port Washington is East Egg, the home of Tom and Daisy Buchanan in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel THE GREAT GATSBY/GG NOVEL.  In the 1967-68 academic year I attended Sands Point Academy which was housed in the Luckenbach Estate, also known as Elm Court, a mere stone’s throw from the  Buchanan’s dock featuring the green light which mesmerized and enraptured Jay Gatsby.  Occasionally our classes would have nature walks upon the school’s beach where the remnants of what was probably Beacon Towers loomed large.

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Although Beacon Towers and  Elm Court have met the wrecker’s ball the guard-house to Beacon Towers still stands.  My visits to the ancestral home usually feature my brother Peter driving into Sands Point where horses graze on grass fields visible from Port Washington Blvd.  Guard houses and servants quarters are here and there as well.  Indeed the Great Gatsby era’s ghosts are not merely ghosts but something of a cottage industry. My high school, Schreiber High School in Port Washington, offered an elective on the “Gold Coast” era of Long Island.  (I didn’t attend this class nor did I attend many other classes.  But I digress…).  My parents  often spoke of the legacy of the Roaring 20’s as being a formative part of  Long Island’s history.

Indeed GG 2013’s director honored Port Washington’s role by personally hosting a sneak preview on May 8, sponsored by the Gold Coast International film Festival at the newly re-opened Soundview Cinema.

West Egg, where Jay Gatsby and the narrator Nick Carraway reside, is based on the Kings’ Point sector of Great Neck.  Great Neck’s 6 Gateway Dr. being the home of F. Scott Fitzgerald from 1922-24 when he was penning THE GREAT GATSBY.  On several occasions my folks packed my brother and I into the station wagon and we attended the graduation ceremony at the Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy.  The graduation ceremonies closed with an impressive display of boat maneuvers which met my folks’ criteria for “educational” day trips.

GG 2013 is filmed largely in Australia as opposed to GG 1974’s use of The Breakers mansions in Newport Rhode island.  The GG 2013 mansions are quite impressive.  The CGI technology is impressive and lends a grandeur that strikes the right note.  Kudos also accrue to the scenes of Daisy’s dock as viewed from Gatsby’s estate.  I can attest that the view is very much as depicted.

In 1974 Jack Clayton filmed Francis Coppola’s adaptation of THE GREAT GATSBY 1974 featuring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow as Gatsby and Daisy with a young pre-LAW AND ORDER Sam Waterston playing Nick Carraway as narrator and moral center of the story.  I never saw the film in a theater but watched blurry, black and white/B & W, analog television versions several times.  The dawning of the VCR era made THE GREAT GATSBY 1974 one of the very first films I rented in VHS.  Entranced with freeze frame, the 1974 THE GREAT GATSBY was one of the first movies that I broke down frame-by-frame so it holds a place in my mind as one of my early efforts to wring every frame of meaning from a movie.

Anticipation and anxiety accompanied me on my 7:30 visit to Theater 12 of the Regal Fenway 13 on Tuesday, May, 14.  The room was about 3/4s full with a crowd that looked to be collegiate along with a smattering of over-40 couples.

(I entered the auditorium at 7:25 and endured 20 minutes of COMING ATTRACTIONS!, Windows commercials and reminders to turn off cell phones.  Exhibitors might be well advised to post the time when the evening’s show actually starts but that is too much to ask, perhaps).

GATSBY2013 begins with a grainy  B&W introduction to our narrator, Nick Carraway as played by Tobey Maguire.  Nick is in a sanitarium, which today would be a rehabilitation hospital, diagnosed with alcoholism, insomnia and melancholy. He wears a look of vague befuddlement although he insists that nothing is wrong.  Nick’s doctor reminds him that he has in the past found “solace” in writing and Nick counters that his writing might provide solace for others but little to himself.  Nevertheless he begins to type.

This is a significant departure from the book in form and feeling.  Writing is not part of the novel.  Although the novel is narrated from 2 years after the death of Gatsby by the now regretful Carraway the theme of rehabilitation, whether spiritual or from substance abuse, is absent from the novel.

This is one of director and screenwriter Laz Buhrmann’s gambits to bring THE GREAT GATSBY 2013 into the 21st. Century. GG NOVEL doesn’t reveal that Carraway has written this book until the end of the 3rd Chapter.  Nowhere in GG NOVEL is there any reference or depiction of Carraway being the author.

Perhaps current audiences haven’t been exposed to narrators  feeling moral ambivalence and  believe that only substance abuse and reality therapy could prompt an assessment of one’s actions.  The mechanism of Nick Carraway being F. Scott Fitzgerald strikes a false note.  Nick Carraway is the surrogate audience, not a working author in either the literal or metaphorical sense.

This is the crux of the current rendition:  How does a film capture the spirit of the book while making it relevant and salable to modern markets?

After renting a servant’s house for $80 a month next to a “Hotel de Ville” of a mansion, looking very much like Becan Towers in Sands Point, which Nick does not yet know is Gatsby’s, Nick visits the Buchanans.  Daisy Buchanan/Carey Mulligan is Nick’s second cousin “once removed”.  She hails from Louisville, Kentucky.  Tom/Joel Edgerton is Daisy’s husband who Nick had known at Yale.  Nick notes Tom’s “cruel body’.  Also present is Jordan Baker/Elizabeth Debicki a woman who is a professional golfer who Nick thinks he “had seen”.

Daisy greets Nick and tells him of her 3 year old daughter who is sleeping.  Eventually Nick realizes that Jordan Baker is “the” Jordan Baker, an athlete of some renown.  During this cocktail soiree, from which Nick abstains, Tom begins a tirade regarding THE RISE OF THE COLORED EMPIRES a book warning against the downfall of the “Nordic” people.  During cocktails Tom receives a phone call and Jordan informs Nick that “Tom’s got some woman in New York”.  After receiving the call Tom offers to show Nick his stable of polo ponies but another phone call interrupts.

Daisy and Nick step out on the veranda and Daisy lets Nick know that she is aware of Tom’s unfaithfulness and the best she can wish for her daughter, who is not named at this point, is for her daughter to be a “fool”.

The beauty of GG THE NOVEL is that all of this is transmitted in 17 pages.  Tom and Daisy’s relationship is established and Jordan’s role as Nick’s entrée into this social circle is made clear.  The “woman” of Tom’s is heard but not seen.  (The “woman”s husband George Wilson/Jason Clarke will be introduced shortly).  The baby is not seen or named.  Indeed, Daisy has to ask Nick whether he has ever seen the baby.

GG 2013 differs from GG 1974 in that it handles this scene with a brevity that is admirable.  However, the device of Nick writing the book adds a distance from GG 1974’s Nick /Sam Waterston.  Waterston’s Nick  vaguely investigates the lives around him as opposed to Tobey Maguire’s awed passivity.

Tom admits Nick into his life by taking the train into New York.  while en route he gets off at the “valley of ashes” where his mistress’s husband George Wilson/Jason Clarke owns a garage Repairs. GEORGE B. WILSON. Cars bought and sold.  Here Nick learns that Tom’s mistress is named Myrtle, a “thickish” sensuous woman who travels to New York on the train with Tom and Nick, albeit in a different car, after George is shunted from the room by Tom’s pretext of needing some chairs brought to the office of George’s garage.

The party travels to 138th. St. where Nick gets drunk for “the second time” and gets on a first name basis with Myrtle and meets Myrtle’s sister and a motley crew of friends.

Nick reveals that he is a resident of West Egg. Here Gatsby’s name is mentioned as a “cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm” and the source of Gatsby’s wealth is pondered.  Myrtle’s friend Mrs. McKee mentions that she almost married a “little kike”.

The intoxication of liquor, adultery, bigotry and wealth is well portrayed here amidst overstuffed furniture and a Victrola.  Maguire’s spacey passivity, “simultaneously enchanted and repelled”  is apropos as the camera stays in the center of the room and the room revolves while Myrtle’s dog gazes.

Myrtle begins shouting “Daisy…Daisy” and Tom throws a backhand blow to her nose causing it to erupt blood.  All of the other party goers are stunned and there is no reproach of Tom.

I gasped and many other folks in the theater did so as well.  This scene reminded me of nothing so much as Michael Corleone/Al Pacino slapping Kay Corleone/Diane Keaton in GODFATHER II when Kay reveals that her “miscarriage” was an abortion.

Director Luhrman jars the screen to add to the effect of drunken violence and the effect is very effective.

Nick receives an invitation to Jay Gatsby’s/Leonardo Dicaprio party which he had only glimpsed the arrivals for.  In fact Nick has only seen Gatsby as something of an apparition standing at the end of his dock reaching towards something unknown.

At the party he is relieved to happen upon Jordan Baker as she can provide the East Egg seal of approval lacking in West Egg.  The party begins…

The Jazz age is a moniker often given to the Roaring 20s.  The coming of radio and RCA Victor’s Victrola made it possible for folks to hear recorded music that they would never have had the opportunity to hear in person, thus creating a market for “race records”, the jazz that had been percolating since the start of the 20th. Century.

Hip-hop works in this party scene.  although a trifle discombobulating at first the strains of Jay Z’s “Run this Town” are completely appropriate to this riotous party.  Indeed the over-the-top exhibitionism is made to order for Jay Z’s authoritative narration that reinforces the 20’s garb likeness to hip-hop’s finery.  A brief cover snippet of a loungey “Crazy” by Beyonce reinforces this feeling and provides a comment on the relationships  of the newly wealthy.

Director Luhrman is to be commended on his soundtrack audacity and making the GG 2013’s 1st party music true to that time and ours.

(Would a JAY Z. GATSBY remake with Beyonce as Daisy work?  I say, Yes!).

What is not to be commended is the removal of the table repartee between Nick and Jordan at this 1st. party.  GG THE NOVEL posits a symmetrical set of relationships.  Tom & Daisy/trophy spouses, rich; George & Myrtle/sexual, working class; Gatsby & Daisy/romantic yearning, new money vs. old money and Nick and Jordan.  Nick is using Jordan as an icebreaker to a world which he is both fascinated and repelled by.  Jordan seeks to validate herself socially as a desirable woman.  In fact their relationship is symbiotic, offering rewards to both parties.

It is at this 1st. party that Nick meets Gatsby who introduces himself hesitantly and excuses himself for being “not a very good host.”  Leonardo Dicaprio sports a pomade of pumpkinish hair and the beginning of a double chin but his slightly bloated features work as an embodiment of the nouveau riche’.  Extending a champagne glass with fireworks behind him DiCaprio makes a most impressive entrance into our mind’s eye.  Dicaprio’s appearance is much better suited to Gatsby than the fair-skinned, blue-eyed All American movie star visage of Robert Redford.

The introduction of Gatsby in GG 2013 is true to GG NOVEL and an improvement over GG 1974’s pretext of Gatsby inviting Nick up to his office.

Nick departs the party and happens upon an overturned car leaving the party surrounded by dumbfounded guests.  Nick also has Jordan’s phone number and begins seeing her through the summer, although Jordan is “incurably dishonest.”  Here Nick confesses that he is “one of the few honest people that I have ever known”.

An aside that says as much about Nick’s social circle as it does about Nick.

Indeed in GG NOVEL Jordan relates her teenage acquaintance with Daisy and Gatsby to Nick.  Indeed Chapter 4 reveals Daisy’s cold feet on the eve of her marriage of to Tom, their eventual happiness, marred only slightly by Tom’s auto accident in which a hotel chambermaid traveling with Tom is injured.

Jordan also takes pains to mention that Daisy “Perhaps Daisy never went in for amour at all-and yet there’s something in that voice of hers…”.  This is a crucial point.  To Tom Daisy is a trophy earned by his social position rather than a lover and soul mate.

(Has there ever been a novel, other than J.Ballard’s CRASH that uses car crashes more and to better effect than THE GREAT GATSBY?  If you know of one please be in touch).

Once again GG  2013 bypasses this revelation of Jordan’s to the detriment of the story.  This is one instance where GG 1974 is superior in tone and story.

Gatsby begins to reveal himself to Nick  driving into New York through the “city of ashes” where he reveals that he is an “Oxford man” whose family has passed.  He is from the Midwest, “San Francisco”, and Nick’s silent doubts multiply as Gatsby drives chaotically.

Here the CGI is not as effective as the mock-up of the estates.  The POV is from the audience’s POV and the dizzying effects are all too suggestive of the 21st. Century.

Gatsby’s car is awesomely fast and a cop attempts to pull them over.  Gatsby’s offers his  business card and saves the day.  Nick’s curiosity is aroused although Tobey Maguire’s immobile face suggests only passivity rather than the ambivalence of GG NOVEL.  Later that day they “lunch”, a verb in the 20s, and meet Mr. Wolfsheim who threw the 1919 World Series.  Again Nick can only summon up a vaguely startled look as he begins to wonder what Gatsby wants from him.

On a drive through Central park Jordan reveals that Gatsby had bought his mansion in West Egg for the purpose of “her to wander” into one of his shindigs.  Now Jordan is the messenger for Gatsby’s request for Nick to invite Daisy, who is after all his 2nd cousin once removed, to tea so as to provide an opportunity for Gatsby to just happen to come by.

The date is made, the lawn is cut, lemon cakes purchased, flowers arranged and Daisy makes her entrance to Nick while Gatsby cowers in another room.

Cathy Mulligan’s fair-skinned beauty fits Daisy as least as well as did Mia Farrow’s in GG1974.  Although not as voluptuous as the pregnant Ms. Farrow, Ms. Mulligan’s blondness and slight lisp signify the entitlement that is Daisy.

Finally Gatsby enters the room and DiCaprio does a great job of playing first date anxiety.  When Daisy admits it has been a “while” Gatsby blurts out “5 years…next month” and simultaneously knocks a cuckoo clock from the fireplace mantle.  The scene is very well-played by all.  DiCaprio’s anxious charm, Carey Mulligan’s winsome charm and Tobey Maguire’s bemused charm form a seamless vision of romance amidst a greenhouse of flowers that Gatsby has over purchased.

My mind’s eye has long envisioned this scene.  It is to Mr. Luhrmann’s credit that he pulls off this crucial scene so well.

From Nick’s humble home the trio decamps to Gatsby’s manse.  Gatsby gives Daisy the tour of his home which he keeps full with “celebrated people”.

Responding to Daisy’s praise of his clothing he begins throwing shirts from the balcony of his terraced bedroom and Daisy is dazzled.  “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, he voice muffled in the thick folds.  “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such-beautiful shirts before.”

This is Daisy’s most revelatory remark as she realizes she could have had faithful love AND money.

The shooting is from Daisy’s POV and it moves concentrically giving a dizzying perspective to the viewer that is analogous to the swirl of possibilities that whirl through Daisy’s mind as questioning her own life has not been on her agenda.

This scene is the high point of  GG 2013.  Sad to say but from here GG 2013 resembles nothing so much as an American Lit. paper about a novel.  The scenes shrink and grow more frequent as a rush to the finish commences.  The remainder of the film is chock full of character inconsistencies and unfortunate cinematography.

To wit:

Nick relates the story of Dan Cody in the vague monotone that typifies his elocution in GG 2013.  The realization that Gatsby is indeed a very different man than his public persona is related with all of the drama of a man reciting a grocery list.

Gatsby is in fact James Gatz who had been befriended by Dan Cody in return for saving Mr. Cody’s ship from a wrecking wind.  Gatsby, his self-minted new name remained as a personal aide, skipper and ship’s mate.  Following Mr. Cody’s passing Gatsby inherits $25,000 which Mr. Cody’s estate contested leaving the young Gatsby with only his drive to become…The Great Gatsby.

It is bad enough that Nick explains this through the flashbacks of Nick typing while talking to himself.  What is worse is that Nick’s awe at Gatsby’s “Platonic” creation of himself which enliven Chapter VI of GG NOVEL isn’t even suggested in Tobey Maguire’s lackluster delivery.  In the novel Nick is thrilled not just because he is now privy to Gatsby’s back story but thrilled that Gatsby’s self-invention is not one of a petty weasel but a truly grand conception. It is a flaw of GG 2013 in both form and substance that this realization of Nick’s does not make its way to the screen.

Likewise the face-off between Tom and Gatsby during Nick’s visit to the Gatsby abode becomes an overly explicit series of challenges which induce Daisy to declare that she loved Gatsby AND she loved Tom.  GG NOVEL handles this conflict with a simple discrete “And she doesn’t understand; he said.”  This type of dialog is not cinematic and represents a challenge to even the best intended literary adaptations.

Mr. Luhrmann opts for the faux drama of a confrontation absent in GG NOVEl and then, as if to make amends segues into a montage of gauzy DiCaprio and Mulligan romantic scenes that are uncomfortably like GG 1974.

This segues into a scene of DiCaprio lying fully clothed upon Ms. Mulligan.  While the physical beauty of the couple is undeniable eye candy it is far more explicit than GG NOVEL’s chapter VII Gatsby aside to Nick that “Daisy comes over quite often-in the afternoons”.  The repeated nature of her visits while Tom is away at work hint that Gatsby’s green light of romanticism…and more is now consummated.

Perhaps Mr. Luhrmann thinks that modern markets can’t or won’t appreciate and pay for a romantic obsession that exists in the mind. Perhaps this is the case but this reader felt shortchanged.  Nick’s growing fascination with the menage of Gatsby and Buchanan is a key aspect of the story as Nick is the surrogate for the reader.

This aspect of literature is an inherent challenge of any literary adaptation especially GG NOVEL.  GG 2013 attempts to give the viewer a literary mentality through the clumsy technique of flashbacks of Nick pecking away at his typewriter.

(At least it isn’t an iPad).

Chapter VII features a brief introduction of the Buchanan’s daughter, Pammy, who is whisked away so the Buchanans, Jordan Baker and Nick can go to town.  Here is where GG 2013 really deteriorates in ways that strain my ability to convey.

Conspicuous by its absence is the wonderful remark of Gatsby’s “Her voice is full of money, ” he said suddenly.  This bon mot made me laugh out loud in 8th. Grade and has made me smile ever since.  Not only because of its comedic value but for Fitzgerald tidy encapsulation of Daisy’s appeal to Gatsby’s romantic and upward mobility.

While on the way to town Tom, Jordan and Nick stop at the Wilson’s garage.  George has come to a vague realization that Myrtle wants to leave the “city of ashes” and wants Tom to give him one of his cars to sell so as to finance their trip west.  This meeting at the gas pump is spied upon by Myrtle who assumes that Jordan is Tom’s wife, at least to Nick’s intuition.  The stage is now set for the denouement of GG 2013.

Along the way Tom makes an aside that nowadays you can get “anything” at a drugstore, alluding to Gatsby’s selling of alcohol as a source of wealth.  Here again the printed page of GG NOVEL mentions this several times.  Gatsby is not quite a criminal, nor is he quite legit.

GG 1974 devoted far more time to this scene than GG 2013.  Karen Black as Myrtle’s  abrasive hussy had speaking lines and her gestures remind the viewer that she has been struck by Tom.  Furthermore, although the Wilsons are supporting players their coupling completes the quartet of relationships that come together and are torn asunder by the end of GG NOVEL.  This failure of GG 2013 to give the gas station scene more than a cursory glimpse of Myrtle deprives the ending of some of its tragic determinism.

The part books a room at the Park Plaza and settles down into an afternoon of overheated drinking that brings all of the threads of Tom, Daisy and Gatsby into play.  Tom decries the tendency of relationships to dissolve and wonders whether blacks and whites will be intermarrying although Jordan offers that “We’re all white here”.

Gatsby declares that Tom does not love her and although it has been 5 years Gatsby and Daisy now “loved each other”.  Daisy declares her lover for Gatsby AND Tom and reminds Tom that Tom had a little “spree” before coming East.  Accusations and counter accusations of love and adultery fly until Gatsby assaults Tom.

No.  This scene is wrong in that violence has not been established as part of Gatsby’s character.  Obsessed, yes. Violent, no.  GG NOVEL uses this scene to build tension for the “death” that Nick has an inkling of.

Here GG NOVEL flashes forward to the aftermath of Myrtle’s death and Michaelis, the owner of the coffee shop by Wilson’s garage, discovery of the “death car” which he testifies to at the official inquest of the death.

GG 2013 hints at this with Michaelis pensively stalking the exterior of his shop.  The action now shifts to Daisy driving Gatsby’s car with Gatsby as passenger with Tom, Jordan and Nick piling into Tom’s car.  The digital photography renders the passing topography a blur.  The camera work is distracting and mars the slow build that is about to come to fruition.  Are modern eyes possessed of such a short attention span that the pace must be accelerated?  It would seem as though Mr. Luhrmann has made that assumption.

Myrtle dashes onto the road and attempts to flag down Tom and instead is struck by Gatsby’s car with Daisy at the wheel.  George Wilson is at the scene in shocked grief.

A “negro” informs a police officer that Myrtle was struck by a “blue coupe”.  Tom offers that the “coward”, meaning Gatsby, didn’t even stop.

Tom drives Nick and Jordan to East Egg and offers them supper.  Nick declines the offer of food and accepts a taxi ride to West Egg.  Upon arriving at his home he finds Gatsby in his yard.  Gatsby had not known that Myrtle was dead nor is Gatsby aware of the connection between Myrtle and Tom.

Gatsby tell Nick that Daisy was driving but “of course I’ll say I was.”  Daisy insisting on driving to “steady her.”

This aspect of the death of Myrtle is often misunderstood if the postings on Internet Movie Database/IMDB can be relied on.  Daisy’s relationship with Gatsby has taken Daisy from the predictable pavement of her marriage.  Daisy’s marriage is troubled but it does illustrate the old axiom of the “devil you know” being the one to choose.

Daisy, as passive and vacuous as she is, wants to get back on the road.  This is Fitzgerald’s most finely wrought metaphor.  GG 2013 misses this crucial element.

In the days following the death GG NOVEL has Gatsby give Nick a more detailed version of the back-story of his life that Nick learned of earlier in GG 2013.  This technique of Fitzgerald’s lends deeper coloration to everything that has occurred prior.

GG 2013 merely accelerates to the finale.  It is the viewers loss of what the reader has gained.

This segment in all 3 versions ends with Nick telling Gatsby that “You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together”.    This famous quote bespeaks of Nick’s admiration of Gatsby’s self-creation and the nobility of Gatsby being willing to take the fall for Daisy.After Nick declines a swim in the pool that Gatsby hasn’t used “all summer.”

Once again GG 2013 dispenses with the meeting of George Wilson and Michaelis that reveals the dim-witted George’s mistaken realization that Gatsby had killed Myrtle in a hit-and-run and moves to George Wilson traveling to Gatsby’s.

A series of shots follow with Daisy hesitantly pursing her lips internally debating whether to call Gatsby.

Nick does get through and becomes an unwitting earwitness to George Wilson killing Gatsby in his swimming pool and then himself as “the apocalypse is complete.”

GG NOVEL has Nick not getting though to Gatsby as the phone line is being kept open for a call from Daisy that never comes.  This completes the missed connections of Nick’s that include Hick dismissing Jordan from his life, or vice-verse.

F. Scott Fitzgerald use of telephone metaphors is obvious and effective.  The language and actions are simple, the meaning(s) are multiple.

Here GG NOVEL and GG 2013 both move to Nick’s attempts to organize a funeral service for Gatsby.  In both versions he finds that Gatsby’s vast social circle has little interest in the real life and death of their social avatar.

Sadly GG 2013 dispenses with the sad meeting of Nick and Gatsby’s father, Mr. Gatz.  GG NOVEL has Mr. Gatz describing Jay’s dedication to self-improvement even when Jay was a mere lad.  Nick’s sadness at realizing that Gatsby’s self-invention is honest adds a poignancy lacking in GG 2013.

GG 2013’s funeral scene is marred by the droning, metallic, funereal guitar of Jack White.  I must admit I am not familiar with Mr. Whites solo work although I do know his original band , the White Stripes.  I flinched at the sound.  No, it is not analogous to Jay Z. during the party scene.  It feels tacked on and disrespectful.

On Jack White’s note the plot is over.  We see Nick in his sanitarium finishing his book and scrawling “The Great” over the typed title of GATSBY.

The POV changes to Daisy’s dock at day with the green light being visible as Nick’s voice over recites F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous last paragraph:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us.  It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning——

so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”

*    *    *

Is GG 2013 a great movie? 

No.  While some of the adaptations of digital technology and music do work the visual image  of Nick writing a book deprives the viewer of the inner dialog that is the essence of fiction and especially this novel.

GG 2013 does benefit from Leonard Dicaprio out performing Robert Redord. Joel Edgerton’s malicious machismo as Tom Buchanan rings truer to the part than Bruce Dern’s scraggly hyperactivity in GG 1974.  Carey Mulligan while not as voluptuous as the pregnant Mia Farrow in GG 1974 acquits her self well in a somewhat diminished role.  Carey’s bright blankness captures the empty canvas that drew Jay Gatsby to Daisy.

Jason Clarke as George Wilson and Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson get such a paucity of screen time that the film suffers as a  whole although both are believable in  the time that they get. Likewise Elizabeth Delicki as Jordan Baker.  The underdevelopment of these characters fails the symmetry that the book serves.  The way that the couples complement each other is almost totally lacking in this film.  This is a major shortfall of many book-to-screen adapatations and especially GG 2013.

Tobey Maguire’s one note passivity lacks the craggy; even when he was young Sam Waterston was craggy, integrity that Waterston lent to Nick.

Determinism is the reality of GG in all of its versions.  Gatsby offers  “of course you can repeat the past”.  Indeed he doesn’t know how right he is as his riches and desire don’t quite make him the man who can capture Daisy for good.  Although the twists, turns and metaphors turn against each character a re-reading reveals just how destiny will play itself.

Daisy is a tabula rasa for whom the green light at the end of the dock is all too apt.

The best quality of GG 2013 is that it seems to have prompted what few remaining book stores there are to display the book prominently.

Read it.

*    *    *

“…boats against the current…”

Indeed

BIBLIOGRAPHY:  The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Scribner, 2004

Internet Movie Data Base/IMDB:  The Great Gatsby, 1974

The Great Gatsby 2013

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