Welcome to my new website and my new blog!
I wanted to write different kind of blog than the usual. Black and White will be my take on the fictional world that surrounds us and how it influences us in the real world.
I am not a fan of reality TV. I prefer to watch films – new and old – English language and subtitled – and the lovely mini series on HBO and Showtime and the innovative new series that are emerging from FX and AMC, and, of course, my local PBS station.
I see and want to comment on how the fiction on TV intersects with the real world. As it should . . .
Case in point. I recently went to see the recently released The Great Gatsby. I remembered reading the novel in college (I’m a confessed lit major), sitting in the staid rooms of Rutgers library and combing through the lit journals reading the critics’ take on the story, and coming to the ultimate conclusion that it was above all- a tragic love story.
Boy (self millionaire Jay Gatsby) is in love with girl (Daisy Buchanan, who is also quite wealthy and married) who he met years before and he returns after five years, determined to win her. He buys the biggest house he can find near her house, throws elaborate parties in the hopes of impressing her and one day meeting her again. When that doesn’t work, he enlists the aid of a neighbor to help him “bump” into her.
For me, the movie is a celebration of a heart in love. And kudos for that. Love should be celebrated.
For me, the best scene in this remade movie is the “re-meet scene.” Gatsby and Daisy have been separated for five years. He’s been to war and been busy making his fortune. She’s married Tom Buchanan. He enlists Nick, his neighbor, in this scheme to invite Daisy to Nick’s small bungalow for tea. Before Daisy arrives, Gatsby has Nick’s lawn remanicured, delivers mega amounts of flowers to his house, brings the tea and a bakery-like selection of cakes and, well, completely transforms the place into a kind of Shangri-La. This is Gatsby’s one chance to win back the girl of his dreams, and, in essence, rewrite history.
When Daisy arrives, though, Gatsby panics and exits the house through a side door into the pouring rain. Eventually he returns, soaking wet, nervous as hell, and needs to be calmed down by Nick. The two see each other and rekindle their romance. It is a hopeful scene and all seems well for awhile . . . as if history really could be rewritten.
Of course, although Gatsby may have won Daisy’s heart, he will never win her, for Daisy has her own issues, is deeply flawed, but that’s another story. And although Baz Luhmann, the director gave the audience a few scenes which captured the essence of that “boy girl” story, much of the film is more a celebration of the Roaring Twenties and less of the story that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote.
Special effects. Flash. Glitz. Some of the over the top effects were needed to create the dazzle, too much overshadowed the story and proved distracting. Kudos for the few scenes that worked. And kudos to F. Scott Fitzgerald for writing a story that is so timeless.
At least, the movie is propelling more people to read the book. The Great Gatsby is called the Great American novel. Typically 500,000 copies are sold every year. Last year in 2012, 80,000 ebook copies were sold. This year, Scribner and Sons reports that 280,000 books have already been sold.
But here’s a fun bit of trivia. Movie readers will have a choice of covers. The new movie cover will feature the cast of the movie. Or readers can buy The Great Gatsby with the original cover, designed by Francis Cugat, which is considered one of the most celebrated pieces of art in literature. This cover, when it first came out, was a bit controversial. Ernest Hemingway, Fitzgerald’s friend, immediately disliked the cover. He found it too garish. A bit like the remade movie version of the book. Ha, how art imitates the real world which imitates art.
What do you think? Which cover do you prefer?