The Great Gatsby Why ?
My guts were eating at me tonight . It was Just one of those nights that compelled me to make a choice .
The choice was between either heading home to watch the 7th playoff game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston or to see “The Great Gatsby” on a night when the theater probably wasn’t crowded . Well Gatsby won out . I paid my 16.00 admission and 11.00 for a small bit of plain popcorn with a pinch of salt and a pint sized diet coke. Guess what …the theater was practically filled on a Monday night at the Manulife building . My wife and I tried to see the movie this past Friday but all the theaters playing Gatsby downtown were sold out . What is it that draws one to this movie besides the promise of the glorious 20 ‘s motifs, decor & dress ? I think it is something else other than that visual appeal . As I settled into my theater seat, put my 3Dglasses on and began to watch ,I realized I had seen the last Gatsby movie made with Robert Redford in 1974 on a week night as well, and that it too was packed at the time. (DiCaprio vaguely looks like a thinner young Redford in the movie) .
What is it about this story that makes it so popular ? Is it the symbolism of the green light at the end of the Harbour, the mystique of the author Fitzgerald & his wife Zelda , the splendour, excess, optimism, and excitement of the Roaring 20s ? I don’t think so, even though they are all relevant and have particular appeal especially in our times . As asserted in a recent newspaper article Fitzgerald wasn’t I think a stupendously artful or impeccable wordsmith . Hemingway in my opinion was a much more powerful wordsmith and a more technically elegant and simple writer. Hemingway’s descriptions of Fitzgerald and his wife in his novel ” Moveable Feast” were very interesting and revealing vignettes of Fitzgerald’ s character . Regardless Fitzgerald has deftly portrayed through the various twists and turns of his story line, the power of love and essentially has unfolded it as a 20’s morality play happening under the bespectacled eyes of G_d as well as thorough the eyes of the aspiring capitalist narrator Nick Caraway . Carraway unfortunately displays a moral sensitivity that propels him into depths of depression In the story , although he appears to be healed by a therapeutic return to his first love of writing. ( I’m sure a there are a good chunk of aspiring and established authors that can identify with that therapy ).
It is in Fitzgerald’ s skillful weaving of many storyline threads of love ,infidelity, and loyalty, into one thick and unbreakable cord that he achieves the memorable. On the completion of his work “The Great Gatsby”, he must have felt an emotion akin to what Hemingway referred to as the silent secret joy that a writer keeps to himself initially, guards jealously and possessively in recognition that something good has just been written. The joy is in the author’s recognition of something truly ,unique and relevant.
The movie itself was visually exciting and creative , the casting unique , the acting so so , but the storyline is what carried it off and made it memorable once again. Gatsby is in love, deluded, dashing , desperate , dedicated , and a pathetic victim all wrapped up into one well dressed package . The layers in the story are peeled away one by one like veiled curtains but no one gets to see the whole story except for Nick Carraway , with the spectacles of G_d and the eyes of the reader watching over him. The layers are fascinating and as they are peeled away the revealed story becomes smaller , more compact and concise. One of classic lines quoted in the movie of course describes how Daisy and her Husband Tom were careless people who in the end receded into their money and carelessness , as Carraway sinks Into to depression and Gatsby into a hopeful final oblivion.
At the end of my movie experience almost all of the viewers stayed in their seats for a while watching the credits roll . It felt as if they didn’t want to quite let it go . I felt that way as well, just as Gatsby did in the story: He clung to the past, blinded by love, regret, and desire, not wanting to realize that things had changed and that there was an ending .
The symbolic light at the end of the pier that Gatsby clung to was green. The colour green is typically symbolic of vibrant and constant love ( Greensleeves and all ) , but change and the many ways that it is dealt with , seemed to be the only relevant constant in this plot , as it is often in real life . Perhaps coincidentally or not , the colour green is also the colour of money, envy, and of forward movement .