The Lady (Marine Memorial Statue), at Hampton Beach, from yesterday’s 3-mile seaside walk.
Anna and I saw The Great Gatsby at Regal Cinemas in Newington last night. At times visually entertaining. But in the end it just made me want to reread the book.
The movie couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a Jazz Age cartoon, a Baz Luhrmann stylistic interpretation (with jarringly modern music and bizarre coloration), or a realistic period piece (with perfect hair and costumes). What is subtle in the book was too much in the movie.
Leo/ Gatsby said “old sport” way too many times and pronounced it “old spore.” Also he is too… real, because you can see him onscreen rather than imagine him in mind’s eye. He should be more mysterious, less obvious. Daisy is too doe-eyed. Tom is too much of an asshole (but the Australian who played him was the best actor). Nick is too much the innocent outsider. With the balloons, confetti, fireworks and mansion/castle, the party scenes are like a drunken adult version of Disney World.
(Critic Rex Reed: Baz Luhrmann takes a meat cleaver to literary masterpiece.)
Anna was mad because she hates all the characters. Why are they so stupid? Why do they make such bad decisions? Who is she supposed to root for? “I hate Daisy the most.”
“But she’s not real, she’s fiction,” I say, in the car on the way home. “You can’t talk about her like she’s a real person.” I’m not sure how to explain what I mean. Gatsby is not a person either. He’s something we Americans recognize inside us, characterized and caricatured, enlarged and unleashed by a particular period in history and by a writer’s imagination.
What’s great about Gatsby is not the characters, plot or setting but the writing, the words on the page. A color cartoon version loses that, of course. I only cried a teardrop or two at one part in the movie and it wasn’t onscreen romance, or tragic death. It was the ending, because the writing is beautiful.
Nick Carraway/ Tobey Maguire is finishing typing his book and we hear and then (last sentence) see the words…
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic 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.
Forget the trapeze and fireworks, more words….
“There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whispering and the champagne and the stars.”
“There was dancing now on the canvas in the garden, old men pushing young girls backward in eternal graceless circles, superior couples holding each other tortuously, fashionably and keeping in the corners…champagne was served in glasses bigger than finger bowls. The moon had risen higher, and floating in the Sound was a triangle of silver scales, trembling a little to the stiff, tinny drip of the banjoes on the lawn.”