Paper to Theatre: The Great Gatsby

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Book Review

A little party never killed nobody. So they say.. This is the thread that runs through the entire dreamscape of the spectacular classic novel The Great Gatsby. I didn’t even honestly know what the book was about before I started reading it, and I had no idea I was going to fall headfirst into a dazzling love story that would take me back in time and in sight of the future all in the same story. It all begins in the roaring ’20s ,with Nick Carraway, who moves near a millionaire who throws extravagant parties, where all of New York attends, but who he doesn’t quite know yet. The man, who Nick comes to know as Mr. Jay Gatsby, takes an unusual liking to Nick, actually inviting him to a party, taking him on his hydroplane, lunching with him, and acknowledging him as nothing other than “old sport”. Here’s where I fall in love with Gatsby. Thousands of people in his house atleast once a week, and he doesn’t even seem to think a thing about it. .. Another party.. But he does seem to truly want, need, Nick, and we don’t know why. Nick learns that Gatsby still loves a woman, across the bay, who he has been in love with yet hasn’t seen for over five years, since he was in war and she got married to a richer man. Daisy, the woman in question, is Nick’s cousin, so he is able to easily bring them back together. They try to make up for lost time, but it proves tougher than imagined. Eventually, they work their way back to serious lovers, but one thing stands in their way: Tom, Daisy’s abrasive husband, who even has his own mistress, Myrtle. One day, Gatsby has had enough of the pretending, and  he tells Tom that Daisy never loved him. This causes a huge, violent conflict, and they both drive angrily away, Gatsby being the one with Daisy. Myrtle has just run away from her abusive husband and ran into the road, as upset Daisy drives by, hitting and killing Myrtle on impact. Everything happens so quickly, that they don’t stop, and instead, Gatsby takes the blame for killing her, although the police haven’t gotten to him yet. Instead, while he is swimming one day, Myrtle’s husband, who got word from Tom that Gatsby is guilty, shows up at the mansion and shoots and kills Gatsby, followed by himself. Nick tries his hardest to pull together some sort of a funeral, but literally no one shows. Nick is forever heartbroken by the loss of the one man in his entire life who seemed to bring the brightness back into life, always, and what would have been forever. At a simple call, anyone in the state would show for a huge bash, but when it came to honoring death, not a soul could be reached. Not even Daisy showed, and she was well aware of his death. I understand why she couldn’t though; life was already painful enough. This book blew me away. For being such a short novel, it packs a ton of heart. I found myself looking up from the pages and thinking for a few frequently throughout this book. In the end, it all comes full circle and I feel like I completely get it. Get it and adore it. So it seemed that Gatsby had it all. But remember, ” No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” It. Was. All. For. Daisy. The extravagant parties were only thrown hoping that she would show. Gatsby spent his entire life, after meeting Daisy, thinking and praying for the day to come where they would reunite. This to me is absolutely beautiful. The love between the two of them was so pure and true, yet in the end, Gatsby was the only one who remained loyal to it. He could have ran off after the accident, he could have exposed the truth that Daisy was driving, he could have kept their affair a secret from Tom– but he saw his actions as remaining wholly true to their love. Anything was worth the truth: that she was all he wanted. One of my absolute favorite parts is when Gatsby yells at Nick that you can, indeed, repeat the past. It is obviously proven in the end that this is easier said than done. In refusing to acknowledge that Daisy was tied to someone else, and that a secure footing in life would be necessary in his future years, Gatsby screwed himself. But this doesn’t seem to matter anymore once he fatefully is murdered in protection of his lifelong love. He may have committed some immoral acts in his past, and the complete devotion to the relationship may not have been mirrored to both lovers, but the story finally concludes that Gatsby had heart. A Great heart, fit for a Great man. Long live Gatsby.

Movie Review

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I had really high expectations going into seeing the movie version. The book mesmerized me, and any version of the story that didn’t follow would be close enough to sabotage of a classic. But I was soon to learn how much further and deeper my passion for this story could go. In the beginning, when the new twist is shown, where Nick is telling the story to his psychiatrist, at first, I was concerned. I started thinking of all of the ways they could destroy a classic, cause a catastrophic destruction of a story I was practically living in, so badly, that I might even end up walking out of the theatre. But soon enough, the screen filled my eyes with the most stunning array of colors, textiles, sounds, and voices, creating an image of the 1920’s so magnificent that I found myself begging to jump right in as Flapper #2. Right off the bat, the characterization adaptation is spot on. Nick is exactly the wishy washy man I expected him to be. Tom is a jerk, and Daisy lights up the screen with her breathy voice and snowy beauty. I enjoyed how the film drew out aspects of the novel that were only briefly mentioned, like the landscape of New York at the time. This added a historical feel,that felt so right to be thrown in next to these diversifying characters. We finally meet Gatsby, played by a flawless Leonardo DiCaprio (he can do it all), at one of his parties. I never thought there would be a time where the word “party” would seem so shamely. These bashes involved thousands, dancing until the morning, spitting confetti and glitter for miles, and seemingly enjoying life so much that you would imagine all of the state to follow in such a state of joy, and era disillusionment. Not the case. Nor was it the case that Gatsby would be soaking up all of this fervor. Leo exhibited his mental isolation so well that it seems Fitzgerald wrote the star part with him in mind, that if anybody else ever tried to bring his hero to life, the entire structure of an American classic would collapse. The emphasis on the Green Light at first caught me off guard. But when it supported Gatsby’s hopefulness without fail, I agreed with it all again. The clothing, mostly designed by legendary fashion company Prada, blew me away. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the music too, which was an infusion of modern hip hop and swinging beats and jazzy instruments. I   so badly wanted to be a part of the scene. But I took nothing in the entire film to heart as much as I did the interactions between Daisy and Gatsby. When they were reunited, in a partly awkward, partly comical, and partly heart-wrenching scene filled with cakes and flowers, I found myself smiling. Even in the uncomfort they found at first being reunited, I could see the chemistry between them that I felt perfectly reassured that their love would be artfully rekindled soon enough. I bascially forgot that the lovers on screen were truly known as Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio. It all felt too real. The scene where they play around on a boat, and then return home, and she is shown his mansion, I can loyally say, is the most beautiful scene that I have ever watched in any movie, ever, in my entire life. “Such beautiful shirts,” tears at your heartstrings as you watch, knowing that Tom is close enough. Nick doesn’t serve as any sort of bother to these two, even when invited on their trips, because he recognizes the beauty and purity of their love too. It seems that he would rather have nothing else in life than for his cousin and his comrade and neighbor to be satisfied. This all begins the fatal downward spiral when Gatsby flips out around Tom one day. This scene is so intense, as we can see one by one, each thread of the relationship start to unravel. We know that there’s no way that Tom can just be cut out of the picture, as Gatsby foolishly believes. Even knowing the ending, I was clenching my fists as Gatsby ignored Nick’s insistence that he go in hiding. When  a call was promised to Nick later, after a late swim, my heart hurt and my stomach twisted. When Gatsby was shot, and he fell into the pool dead, in dramatic slow motion, I felt like I had just lost my best friend, my lover, and my neighbor. The funeral rolled around and I was to the brim in despair, as Daisy left her home with Tom and their child, choosing to not show up to her true lover’s funeral. In the end, Nick finishes his memoir, which is extraordinary in itself. The fact that he chose the single-handed most important aspect of his entire life as a man he only knew for one summer gets me every time. By the end of the film, I felt like I now knew the story from every side, and because I had lived it as well. And well, anyone who truly understands and believes in the idea behind something, honestly is living that story in their beautiful mind. I see this so deeply, and I find it an ever-enchanting classic case of loyalty gone wrong, but heart gone right. Never let a soul tell you your heart is in the right place, if that is where it feels at home. Don’t betray yourself by denying that a romance exists, no matter if it has been validated or not. The world may seem like a sickening place and you may feel at the end of your rope, but there is always one last man, or woman, or aspect, that you have to commit to. And if that fails, honesty is still the best policy, and loyalty is your decision whether to abide or not. This film was much more of a dramatic and drawn-out version of the story, but it was done so well in compliance with the book’s every detail, that the added fervor only helped. Yes, some scenes were changed in how they occurred, but the execution of them makes it no question how the story went down. This adaptation hypnotized me so well that I can now say I have a Great Gatsby obsession. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose. When two people choose each other as their world, you can either feel disgust in your envy of their devotion, or you can brighten up in joy that two more people in the world have found the best way to live and die in each other’s arms. Daisy didn’t bid a farewell to her lover at his funeral, because that wouldn’t make sense. There was no farewell for them. Love truly is, and magically so, forever.

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