Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gatsby: The Movie

The Great Gatsby is probably my favorite book of all time.

I must have read Gatsby at least half-dozen times.  More recently, over the past five years, it has become a summer ritual for me to listen to actor Tim Robbins read Gatsby on my iPod.

(OK, I know that sounds a little weird, but there it is).

I don't know what it is about Gatsby that fascinates me.  The characters are all basically nihilists - no one seems to truly believe in any values or principles beyond basic desires. Gatsby's pursuit of Daisy is obsessive, almost to the point of unbelievability.

Even narrator Nick Caraway - who describes himself as "the most honest person he knows" - seems to have no problem setting up Gatsby's clandestine meetings with Daisy, or having an affair with Jordan Baker while still having a relationship with another woman in the Midwest.

This morning's London Telegraph had a good article written by Guy Stagg about Gatsby. Mr. Stagg may have put his finger on one of the reasons I and many others like reading Gatsby so much:

The Great Gatsby is all about imagination. The characters create enchanted, deluded visions of one another. And so does the reader. F Scott Fitzgerald gives us a few memorable symbols, like the green light at the end of Daisy’s garden, and a few striking personal details, such as Gatsby’s gorgeous smile, and the reader imagines the rest. In our minds the characters become far more vivid than anything on the page.

Hollywood has always had a difficult time capturing the magic of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books on the big screen - the 1974 Great Gatsby movie starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow was a disappointment both to watch and at the box office.

This Christmas there is another, more modern version of Gatsby coming to a theater near year.  The trailer posted above suggests that the story will be told in a much different fashion than either the book or the Redford film.

I am doubtful the new film will be as effective as the book, but I am looking forward to seeing it.