While I support the idea of a "Gatsby" porn movie, a "Gatsby" Hollywood film will be nothing but awful. Why? Because the plot of "The Great Gatsby" is stupid and unsatisfying. What makes the awful plot work is the language and character analysis provided by Nick, and unless the movie is rigorously narrated (which would be hellish), all that beautiful lyricism will be lost.
Luhrmann thinks the movie will be perfect to help people understand the current depression. Here's Luhrmann's rationale:
"If you wanted to show a mirror to people that says, 'You've been drunk on money,' they're not going to want to see it. But if you reflected that mirror on another time they'd be willing to. People will need an explanation of where we are and where we've been, and 'The Great Gatsby' can provide that explanation."
But the explanation is in the explainer, not in the story.
One of the chief fascinations of "Gatsby" is that the events chronicled are so half-assed and perennial, but that when told in the voice of a wise and witty outside observer, the story becomes something else: a product the elevates the subject matter and actually makes flighty Daisy, bully Tom, sinister Jordan, and criminal Jimmy Gatz into something greater than themselves. Just like Gatz reinvents himself as "Gatsby" by sheer style, class, hope, love, and lust, this book reinvents the American tale of people who climb, making them not look like squalid, hateful dicks, but instead like heartbreaking tragic icons.
Through the power of Fitzgerald's elegant prose, all these American assholes become beautiful. Fitzgerald did the same thing with the quintessential American story that his relative Francis Scott Key did with the forgettable British drinking song that he turned into the "The Star-Spangled Banner": he made it American by making it big, important, disgusting, beautiful, rich, and free.
But filmed, the people -- including Gatsby -- will all look as desperate, privileged, and boring as Hollywood celebrities.
You can't make a movie out of this book. You shouldn't even try. What will the first shot be? Young Nick getting advice from his dad, trying to look like he cares? And what will the last shot be? Nick in a rowboat trying to sail against the tide with a martini in his hand and a Vaseline-shiny grin plastered across his face like death's rictus, bags under his wet eyes, tears soaking the pages of his old high school yearbook while he sings "Jack and Diane" at the top of his lungs?
Posted by miracle on Sat, 20 Dec 2008 15:16:51 -0500 -- permanent link