I absolutely love F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, “The Great Gatsby.”
Most of you read it in high school, but I did the uber-nerdy International Baccalaureate program (ahem — I mean “programme”), and I guess the quintessential American novel was too ethnocentric, so we ended up reading a ton of Chekov instead.
But the summer after high school, I read Gatsby while in France and I became entrenched in the totally twisted storyline of the perils of excess and wishful thinking.
I’ve read it every summer since then, and I’ve become borderline obsessed with the book and pretty much everything to do with it.
I even have a sweatshirt that says “Party at Gatsby’s.”
So, naturally, I screamed with glee last summer when the first trailer for the Gatsby movie was released. Jack White taking U2 and making it not suck? Poor, beautiful, Oscar-less Leo DiCaprio? The goddess also known as Carey Mulligan/Mrs. Marcus Mumford? BAZ LURHMANN?
Needless to say, I’m STOKED for midnight tomorrow — and since I’ve learned to take excitement with a grain of salt, here’s my guide to preparing yourself for Gatsby.
Read the book
Movies are almost never true-to-book, and I imagine amidst the glitter bomb this movie is sure to be, much of the plot will be left out. Gatsby is famous for its symbolism and early reviews say Lurhmann sort of hits you over the head with it — but what good is that if you don’t know what the symbols mean? If you don’t have time to read 120 pages between now and Friday, check out John Green’s videos on the YouTube channel CrashCourse.
Tons of people are flipping their shit over things they don’t like about how the movie was made. Jay-Z is so not 1920s, 3D is too gaudy and overdone, they didn’t even shoot the movie in New York … Those people need to CTFD (look it up) and enjoy the ride. If you haven’t already seen a Lurhmann film, it’s important to go into it with some background knowledge as to his style. Prepare to be overstimulated and sort of confused — it’ll make you think more about the movie later on while you come down from your glitter high.
Dig deep …
Gatsby is a piece of literature, y’all, and some of its literary aspects are already apparent in how the movie’s been made. Yes, 3D is over-opulent and annoying. So was the Jazz Age. Thinking critically about the decisions made with the film will give you a more well-rounded and deep experience.
… but not too deep
Don’t break your brain while watching this movie. It is, after all, for entertainment. There will definitely be things that could have been done better: handling of race, the violent reality of prohibition, etc. Like in “Moulin Rouge!”, Luhrmann is sure to gloss over these subjects, which is indeed annoying. But if you go into the movie with the mindset of not taking it too seriously, you’ll definitely enjoy it more.
No movie will ever compare to the book, but overall I’m pretty pumped to be transported to the world of Gatsby for a few hours. See you at midnight!
Jessica Ryan is a senior media studies major at CU (for one more day). She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.