In the movie Back to School, Rodney Dangerfield played a rich clothing tycoon who went to college. He was trying to fake his way through. The English Professor asked him what he thought of the great Gatsby, to which Dangerfield said, “He was great!”
I read the book earlier this year and just went to see Baz Luhrmann’s vision of it in 3D.
First of all, I did not see why there was a need for 3D on this movie, but I guess that is all the rage these days. Rotten Tomatoes has the audience consistently at 84% liking it ( at 64,000 or so votes as of this writing) and the critics, up from around 40% on Thursday to 48% today. This always intrigues me: as audiences like something, the critic’s reviews improve—guess they are human. . .
The top of the page on Rotten Tomatoes has this to say about the movie: While certainly ambitious — and every bit as visually dazzling as one might expect — Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby emphasizes visual splendor at the expense of its source material’s vibrant heart.
Well, I didn’t see a vibrant heart in the book; I read—and enjoyed—the episodic treatment the book used and the depiction of the roaring 20’s. This, I think, is the reason the book has stayed popular.
The story is not anything special, but the slice-of-life during Prohibition—when drinking actually increased—is very well worth reading. And this is what Luhrman and his style of story-telling, the focus of frentic energy and stunning and absorbing visuals brings out best of all. I think Luhrman caught the gilded age of the book perfectly and maybe gave us a glimpse of what the barons of that age lived like.
The casting of the four main characters was simply perfect. DiCaprio, of whom I am nota huge fan, fit the role of Jay Gatsby beautifully, and while he will not be nominated for any awards for his acting in it, it was a stellar performance.
So, when all is said and done, how should Dangerfield has answered the question? Gatsby cannot be described in one word or one phrase or one sentence. He is a complicated, many faceted personality, filled with great good and bad, sadness and joy, heroism and cowardice. Just like all of us. He is easy to like and hate, to admire and to hold in disdain.