Why Gatsby is still so Great.

28 Mai

It’s very easy to write the new Great Gatsby adaption off as overblown. Yet, it’s a big mistake. Baz Luhrmann’s 125 minute epic is nothing short of a modern masterpiece in 3D with fitting urban HipHop beats, almost 100 years from the future. Kudos to Leonardo DiCaprio for stepping in the footsteps of Robert Redford. It’s been a tough act to follow, but it worked – which, unfortunately, cannot be said about Daisy’s cast Carey Mulligan falling terribly short of Mia Farrow’s dramatic 1974 appearance.

The Great Gatsby. © Warner Bros.

For me, Gatsby is one of the three novels that brought me to writing. I still favor the unfinished The Last Tycoon as Fitzgerald’s best work, yet Gatsby is doubtlessly his most fascinating character. What’s not to like: The very American ideal of early success, the monumental parties, the glitz and blitz of the Roaring Twenties.

Of course, as captured very well in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris two years ago, we all tend to romanticize. The past always seems more meaningful and real than the future – I’ve personally subscribed to nostalgia all my life and I certainly know it’s not too healthy.

The Great Gatsby.  © Warner Bros.

Like it isn’t for Gatsby: You can’t repeat the past, Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire’s finest role since Everything is illuminated) lectures Gatsby in the key passage of the novel and movie – to which the selfmade mogul replies astonished: Of course you can.

I like that sentimental approach, though everyone knows it’s quite often the seed of tragic endings – especially at the stock market which is the hidden framing of this 20’s boom and doom epic. One of the movie’s finest tricks actually comes in the narrative form of telling the story in retrospect after the epic Wall Street crash of 1929 (unlike in the novel).

It seems unthinkable how Gatsby would have fared after being caught on the wrong side of the trade. Yet, it’s a fascinating thought how Gatsby’s life could and would have continued if not on that one, not so fine morning everything ended in disaster, forestalling the crash on an era.

The Great Gatsby. © Warner Bros.

And how would the modern Gatsby look like?  Would it be another Jay – Jay-Z? Or a Roman Abramovich like figure? I’m sure the modern Gatsby wouldn’t reside in East Egg, rather in Moscow, Dubai or Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

In the end, we all love to believe in the green light, in the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster,  stretch out our arms farther…


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