Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Great Gatsby, 2013 style

I went to see The Great Gatsby last night at I guess what is called the "second run" theatre.  It now costs $3.75 to see a film there. It used to be one dollar.  Sigh.  But that's better than $8.00. 

This was a hip-hop, CGI-enhanced, visually stunning version of the story.  Except for a few additions, it was faithful to the book.  Let me say first that while I think Gatsby is a great American novel, it's not in my opinion (and I have an M.A. in English) THE great American novel.  I put it in the top ten, definitely, but not top one.  I give that honor to Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, which bears a lot of similarity to Gatsby--narrative structure, for one, with a self-loathing narrator who orbits around the main character who is very powerful and ruthless.  Maybe because I live in the South, and maybe because I think politics is the life-blood of this country, I put Men first.  Then Huckleberry Finn, then MockingbirdScarlet Letter, Moby Dick, and Grapes of Wrath have to go in there. Maybe Gatsby in top five.  There are lots of them I haven't read, too, so I am not the expert on this.

Secondly, in terms of the book, like all books written by men, the women are, to use my husband's words "about stupid."  Could there be a more worthless character than Daisy?  Definitely she is unworthy of whatever obsessive love Gatsby has for her.  Jordan is a blank and Mrs. Wilson a whore.

First, the positives:  It was faithful to the book.  DiCaprio was spot on, except he overdid it at the tea party where Daisy shows up.  It looked great.  I didn't have a problem with the way the story was framed, with Nick being in rehab and writing about his life with Gatsby.

The negatives:  Way too much CGI; it almost made me nauseous in places, and I don't think it added anything.    I am indifferent to the hip-hop.  I would have rather heard jazz; it was the jazz age, after all.  Why go to such lengths to get the '20s look when you use 2013 music?  That seemed like either a way to kiss up to the young people or to just provide an energy that the story doesn't have in itself, since it's a rather slow-moving story. 

My conclusion:  Interesting.  Definitely worth seeing, at least for $3.75.

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