A film about… love?
The 2013 film interpretation of The Great Gatsby, based upon the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, describes the adventures of Nick Carraway one summer as he seeks his fortune in the bond businesses. The tale takes an interesting turn when he discovers his neighbour is a man named Gatsby. As events transpire, we learn Gatsby has been in love with Nick’s cousin Daisy for five years. He bought a mansion across the lake from where Daisy lived with her husband Tom so that he could be close to her, with the hope that she might one day wander into one of his huge extravagant parties. But what is this film about? The answer is concealed in rich symbolism of capitalism, a “Lost Generation” leading a hedonistic lifestyle following the aftermath of World War One, and a man tragically obsessed with a youthful love affair. But ultimately, it can be interpreted any way you desire.
Now this film has been subject to a lot of undue criticism. Mainly that the story is set in the 1920’s, yet manages to incorporate modern music into the extravagant parties hosted by Gatsby.
But isn’t the beauty of Fitzgerald’s work that you can interpret the story in your own distinctive way? His descriptive prose and almost cinematic depictions fuel a wild imagination. I liken this interpretation to reading the book with your ipod on shuffle, and almost perfectly every song matches the mood of the scene. If that music help depicts the scene, it is useful having to include it.
Leonardo DiCaprico, who portrays Gatsby, describes the process in the behind the scenes footage of the film making:
The idea of infusing hip hop, the idea of giving the 1920’s that modernism, isn’t going to separate you from being within that time period, but makes you understand the cultural references and what it would be like if these people existed today.
Likewise, people complain none of the characters are likeable. Gatsby gets too caught up in his dreams and loses sight of realistic happiness, Daisy is excitable in the moment but is ultimately flimsy and unreliable, and Nick lets his life be influenced and controlled by others.
Well, no one is perfect are they? It is refreshing to see a film that does not pretend otherwise. Character’s strengths and weaknesses determine interesting narratives.
I relate Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship to an unstoppable force and an immovable object; which is actually quite true of romances.
The film still represents clearer than ever the themes I personally loved in the book. The way the characters floated in and out of the story as if it were a dream. How you can be surrounded by people, yet still lonely. And how once you finally find a person you do connect with, you will do anything to keep them in your life.
I love how the film represents Gatsby, with the past and the future pressing so firmly on either side of him, he fails to see how the present could spoil his perfect, irresistible vision of himself and Daisy living together in the mansion, across from where she currently lived with her husband. He blindly denies that you cannot relive the past, and lives in a fantasy where Daisy never married or loved Tom.
I applaud the film for putting more emphasis on the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy than the book. I feel it better draws people into the story. This film is a must see. Even the film’s most negative critics have viewed it numerous times, so it cannot be denied there is something captivating about this film.
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