Bookends 11 – Return To The Great Gatsby

Well, in an earlier post, sometime last year, I expressed my love for the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. With the new movie adaption just out a few weeks ago, it really got me thinking even more about how much I loved this book.

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I’ll touch on my impression of the movie shortly, but I first wanted to share with you a piece of my schooling history. I first read The Great Gatsby in Grade Eleven, and I remember thinking that I was going to hate it. Absolutely hate it. Worse, I was probably going to be disgusted by it. I only read it because I needed to find a novel to write an essay on, and my teacher suggested this one to me. I was the only one in my English class who had chosen to write on this novel, which was a slight motivation to read it. After I read it, I couldn’t believe how my preconceptions were completely blown away – I actually really enjoyed this novel. It quickly became one of my favourites.

Also, because I loved the novel so much, I put that much more effort into my essay. I was used to getting high grades, but at 98%, my Great Gatsby essay was the highest mark I received on an English essay in high school. My teacher was even using it as an example to other classes for certain technical aspects of essay writing. I was so impressed with myself (but not in a narcissistic sense) that it made me love this novel even more. I would love to share with all of you the final paragraph of my essay (keep in mind that this was written some four years ago when I was about sixteen/seventeen years old.

The Great Gatsby is a parallel to the love affair and marriage of author Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fayre. Nick and Gatsby represent two different sides of Scott, and Daisy takes on the role of Zelda as she brought Scott from a humbled writer to the top of the world. Scott and Zelda were not just in the ’20s, they were the ’20s, and represented the ‘high class’ of that era. Both were carefree souls. Zelda craved fame while Scott resented it, but both seemed to achieve prosperity and success. Are prosperity and success not the two keys to the American Dream? Clearly, for Scott Fitzgerald, the American Dream was a corrupting and life destroying force. And for Zelda, the American dream went hand in hand with the kind of life that she wanted to live. It was Zelda who drove Scott towards fame, while at the same time trying to destroy his writings because she was so jealous of him. It was their lifestyle, the one Zelda had wanted, that caused her insanity as well as Scott’s alcoholism. Basically, all of the pitfalls of the American Dream that Scott experienced were because of his wife. Just as it was Daisy who “preyed on Gatsby”, it was Zelda who “preyed on” Scott. Both women, one and the same, force their husband/boyfriend into a life of reckless abandonment, drinking and fame because they wanted men who could not only support their lifestyle of such recklessness, but also be a man who was more than willing to buy Daisy and Zelda’s love. Yet, because Scott and Zelda’s relationship was such a major theme in The Great Gatsby, a conclusion can be drawn that Scott Fitzgerald would never have written not only his finest novel, but a novel considered to be one of the greatest of the 20th Century, without Zelda Sayre, the woman who destroyed his life and career.”

Well I had my little show off moment for the day, so I guess we’ll change topics back to The Great Gatsby – unless of course you want to read more about me, because that’s a subject that I could go on about for days.

Anyways, I went to see this movie not knowing what to expect. While I am not a huge Leonardo fan, even I have to admit he has a substantial amount of talent and presence. I thought he was perfect for the role. I felt the same about Toby – he did a great job with a complex character. Both characters seem so simple on the outside, but the actors really portrayed all of their nuances and complexities very well. While I didn’t know many of the other actors, I thought that they did well also. I wasn’t super keen on Daisy or Tom, but they were a fine fit for the movie. Definitely not a detriment. I was also highly impressed – almost more so than the two main actors – with Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker.

As for the movie itself, I thought it was excellent. It did well to represent all of the themes present in the book, and I have to say, as a fan of the book, I really enjoyed the film. Bottom line, I definitely recommend this to everyone. Read the book and go see the movie!

Thank so much for reading!

Did anyone else see the movie?

Till next,

-Will

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Categories: Bookends Of My Life, Growing Up, Life, Writing | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Bookends 11 – Return To The Great Gatsby

  1. I saw the movie and loved it. I also thought Leo did a fantastic job portraying Gatsby and Baz Luhrman did a great job bringing the book to life and making it “modern.”

    • I totally agree! Definitely good enough that I want to buy it. I actually wouldn’t mind going back to see it again (I just read the book again, my first time in two years). With the book fresh in my mind, I feel like the movie may be a little bit different (in a good way, or course).

  2. First I have to say I live the novel! It’s one of my top five favorite books. I found the movie, simply okay. Standing alone as a movie it is excellent, as a depiction of one of the best pieces of literature eer written, to me it comes across as an attempt to make something greater than the Hollywood movie industry on its equal.
    I loved what you wrote about Gatsby and Nick portraying F. Scott. Also, as Daisy is modelled in the like of Zelda, what are your thoughts on Jordan being another side of Zelda? In the novel Nick is drawn to Jordan Baker but sites that she though amazing can not be trusted. Just my thoughts but I believe Fitzgerald may have been painting a side of Zelda in her.
    I have been a bit harsh on the movie, I have to admit it was good. Just something in the theatrics made me feel F. Scott may not have been impressed, maybe the 3D is partially to blame. Maybe I simply love the novel that any slight deviation or interpretation on film would leave me slightly saddened.
    Great POST
    alison

    • Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. I never thought of Daisy taking on a side of Zelda as well…interesting. I agree with you that there were a bit too much theatrics. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Wilsons or Tom in the movie…or rather, the way that they were portrayed. I got to see it the day before it came out (hadn’t even realized it was an advanced screening until I got to the theatre) so I saw it in regular, not 3D. I don’t think I’d like the 3D very much. Thanks again, and I’m glad you liked my post.

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