Seeing and Re-reading The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is a perfect novel in many ways, and lots of people have different reasons for calling it their favorite. One of mine is this sentence:
The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty of the world. -F. Scott Fitzgerald
Much of Nick and Gatsby and Daisy’s Manhattan and Long Island are so different from the places I know today. But that promise, enchantment, mystery held by New York City, an energy created and consumed, remade and recycled by people living, visiting, working, playing, and dreaming there, is a constant.
It’s one of the things Baz Luhrmann’s film captures well. I wasn’t in love with the movie (and I expected to fall hard: Romeo + Juliet is an all-time favorite) but it was good, and it did stay very true to the book. I just expected it to push harder, be a more original interpretation and even more visually interesting. (A lot to ask, I know.)
The best part of the movie was the week before, re-reading the book in anticipation. In many ways it was like experiencing it for the first time, rediscovering perfect details. And this time, I had my 11th-grade self guiding me through, with (over-) detailed margin notes!