Does the World Really Need Another Gatsby?

The cover of the first edition of The Great Gatsby

The cover of the first edition of The Great Gatsby (1925) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 10, 1925, one of the world’s greatest literary works was released—F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Fitzgerald began writing the novel in June 1922, but used most of the original material in his short story Absolution, which dealt with sin, guilt, and the imagination—things that every Catholic schoolboy can identify with.

Gatsby was near and dear to Fitzgerald’s heart.  He wanted it to be perfect.  So he worked feverishly for the next two and a half years to create something he knew would make him a legend in the literary world.

 

Who Was Jay Gatsby?

Jay Gatsby was a man obsessed—obsessed with money, success, and one woman.  He grew up poor in North Dakota and did whatever he could to get himself out of his desperate situation.  And he did.  He became involved with the right people and was molded into someone who understood the privileged class.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)

But while he understood it, he was still poor, and unworthy of the love of the wealthy and beautiful Daisy Fay, whom he met during his infantry training in World War I.  While he was busy moving up the ranks, she wrote to tell him that she was not going to wait around for him to make enough money to support her and that she had married a wealthy man named Tom Buchanan.

This news made him determined to prove to Daisy that he was worthy of her love.  Everything he did from that point forward was for Daisy.

Prohibition and the shady characters he surrounded himself with made him a multimillionaire.  He bought a house in (fictional) West Egg on Long Island, right across the lake from Daisy’s sprawling estate in East Egg.  He threw lavish parties that lasted the weekend, hoping that Daisy would show up…but she never did.

His determination—and somewhat stalker-ish behavior—finally paid off, though. After five long years and with the help of Daisy’s second cousin Nick Carraway, Gatsby was reunited with his love.

But their passionate reunion was brief.  He had worked hard at building an empire to impress her (and it did impress her), but it was not enough.  Taking the blame for accidentally running over and killing her husband’s lover was not enough.

In the end, Daisy Buchanan chose her husband and the only life she had ever known. Jay Gatsby was left alone again.

And the hit and run that killed Tom Buchanan’s mistress came back to haunt him.  Buchanan told the woman’s husband that it was Gatsby who was responsible, so the grieving widower went to Gatsby’s house, shot Gatsby to death, and then killed himself.

The “great” Gatsby died alone and very few people showed up to his funeral.  A sad and lonely end to a sad and lonely life.

Gatsby On the Big Screen

Less than a year after Gatsby was published, F. Scott Fitzgerald was paid $45,000 for the film rights.  The adaption, starring Warner Baxter as Gatsby, is unfortunately lost.  The only thing that remains is the trailer, which doesn’t really tell you much about the film.

It has been said that the 1926 adaption is probably the one closest to the novel, but we will probably never know.

26 years later Alan Ladd portrayed Gatsby as a gangster/underworld type in an adaption that catered to the young generation in the 1940s.  The performances overall were pretty blah and cliche.  No one seemed right for the roles they portrayed.

The best known adaption is the 1974 version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.  And it’s probably also the worst adaption to date, truth be told.  There was an awful lot of hype over a film that really did not deliver on anything. The plot was watered down, the characters had absolutely no chemistry, and it just was not believable.  But nearly 40 years later, people are still mesmerized by Redford’s portrayal.  Mia Farrow as Daisy is almost laughable.

As pathetic as I believe the 1974 adaption is, I think it is still watchable.  I cannot say the same thing for the trailer for the latest adaption of the novel, coming to theaters in May 2013. It almost makes me want to go out to Hollywood and protest the premiere.

The second I heard the hip hop soaked in Auto-Tune and saw the trashy Halloween costume rejects on the screen, I knew it was going to be bad.  As a 1920s buff, I can tell you that there is nothing authentic to the look and feel of 1922 in this trailer.

I know it is asking way too much for Hollywood to be authentic and not destroy a literary classic, but come on…

I can tell that it is trying too hard to cater to what they think 21st century high school kids like, and if this is something that appeals to the new generation, then there really is no hope for humanity.

Does the world really need another Gatsby if this is the best Hollywood can do with it? I won’t even bother mentioning how annoyed I am by the choice of overrated Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role.

I will not be seeing this film.  I refuse. And I honestly really hope it fails at the box office after all that money and time they put into it.  It’s been delayed already, so maybe they will delay it again indefinitely. *fingers crossed*

What do you think? Are you excited about latest adaption of The Great Gatsby or are you as repulsed by the trailer as I am?  Let me know by leaving your thoughts below!

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10 thoughts on “Does the World Really Need Another Gatsby?

  1. Diane @ Me, Him And The Cats

    We never read the book in highschool and I have never seen any of the adaptations so I really have nothing to compare it to. I do want to see the movie but at the same time I wish Hollywood was able to create and market a film true to its era. Like you mentioned, now a days it is all about what the younger kids are willing to spend money on.
    Diane @ Me, Him And The Cats recently posted…What Were You Searching For?My Profile

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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Thanks so much for dropping by Diane!

      My thoughts are this: if it gets the kids interested in history and classic literature, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But I don’t think the new Gatsby is going to accomplish that. I think it, at best, cheapens what is a very deep story about the human experience.

      I highly suggest reading the novel at least once. ;) And the best film adaption that I have seen, actually, is a made for TV movie from around 2000 with English actor Toby Stevens as Jay Gatsby and Mira Sorvino as Daisy Buchanan.

      Reply
  2. Liz

    Now I need to re-read the book. I didn’t enjoy it in high school, but I think I was too young and naive to appreciate it. I haven’t seen any of the movies, and I won’t be seeing this one. I have never understood why people think Leo DiCaprio is so fabulous.
    Liz recently posted…5 Books Every Writer Should ReadMy Profile

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  5. Rosie

    It’s a pity that you didn’t see the movie. I liked it a lot better than the 1974 movie. Mind you, it wasn’t the best movie that I ever saw this year. It’s Baz Luhrmann, after all. But it not only made the Redford version seem even slower, but also like a paint-by-the-numbers period drama. And I watched the ’74 movie on the same day I saw this recent adaptation.

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