The Great Gatsby film opens tonight. The last time I wrote about a film opening it was the last Harry Potter film and I was heartbroken. This time it’s a little different.
I first read The Great Gatsby in my high school English class. We analyzed every single line in that book. And I fell in love with it. I’ve read it a few times since but the last time I read it I gained a whole new perspective on it. In my English class we picked it apart and discussed every theme possible. My memory is hazy but I don’t recall discussing the theme that I’ve come to know as the most important theme of the book. (I’m sure we did though).
Illusion and expectation.
Jay Gatsby fell in love with Daisy and then he had to leave. For five years he was gone. I can fabricate an elaborate illusion of someone in less than five minutes. Imagine the illusion you could come up with in five years. This quote is more incredible than I have words for.
“…I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
Ironically, this is what we have all done with the film. The moment we found out Leo was cast as Gatsby our imaginations started flowing. We have made this film up to be the most incredible thing to happen in Hollywood history, and we haven’t even seen it yet. Every new trailer that came out blew up quicker than the rumor that I stuffed my bra in eighth grade (we’ll discuss this later). I’m the worst offender of them all when it comes to this film. And I’ll pay for it tonight as I sit in the theater, seat J13, and watch as this film, adapted from one of the most incredible novels ever written, tumbles short of my dreams.
I'll love the film. I have no doubt that I will love it. But no one can recreate a novel perfectly. They can recreate it well, yes. But novels are of our own. We create the characters and the places in our minds. And when a movie comes and shatters the images we had in our minds, we feel disappointed. This is how Jay Gatsby felt. So I guess tonight, we will all be a little bit Jay Gatsby. Because “no amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
Listen to Over The Love by Florence + The Machine (written for the film).