The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby
One thing I never confused the movie for the book for, was its portrayal of Gatsby. In the book I could believe that the huge estate he had prepared was but to lure him Daisy, while in the movie it is surely his aggrandizement--I honestly thought most of the time of Orson Wells's Kane while watching puffed up Leo. He strolls his party not so much invisible, as he is in the book, but hidden master of it all. And he shows off how that special person and that special person and that special person are all there, rendered as they are into part of his ample house collections, with them trapped to not want to be anything else, owing to his hosting the biggest draw in town--Beethoven in his second act, and this just one feature. Every night he houses his parties, and every night the whole town is corralled into it -- he's master of the house and master of all. And so at the end of the evening when he strolls outside and looks across the water at the beaming green light across the bay, it's absinthe to well the evening down amidst cool air -- the logical follow up to the evening's clamor, a cleanse, not what what has been sitting with him throughout and that he has longed to return to.
Daisy comes across as someone he has to possess for a complete validation of himself as great and complete. By his side, the past when he was just a young officer on the climb, unsure if he should dare merge with someone of assured standing, becomes smoothed into him. As much talk as there is in the film that once again knowing Daisy means Gatsby's all-important green light's dwindling out, the only way there's any sense of it the film is that it might mean Gatsby and Tobey McGuirre's Nick Carraway being distanced from one another, as it is their encounters that are a bit of magic. Magic, as in first-date, guard's up but set for maybe great change, is not Gatsby courting Daisy with tea, but Nick for the first time refusing his own otherwise agreeable and placating stance and leaderly simply refusing to let Gatsby leave his home and thereby lose his great chance with her he's put so much effort into procuring, while also humiliating and really hurting Daisy. Nick here instinctively puts aside his friendly bemusement at Gatsby's unpredictable dramatics, for doing what has to be done so these two people he's fond of don't lose from this hereto magical and charming day, full as it still remains of possible beautiful portent. There is magic also in all three of them hanging together during the day in Gatsby's mansion, with Gatsby tossing his shirts at them, partaking of the clownish fun of sport throws at town fairs, but take away Nick and leave it to the other two to display something meaningful, and it's the gesturing carapaces, animated but without souls, embraced together on the grounds outside of one of Gatsby's parties.
I'm being a bit hard on Gatsby, but there is a sense that just maybe there really is very little to the guy--that those who'd judge him--notably Daisy's husband Tom Buchanan--are possessed of something solid that refuses them any slip into admiring or being bedazzled by him. At the beginning of the film, Tom is made to seem a non-threat, for being by one and all regarded as someone with rearguard prejudices in a world of Jazz Age authority. But still you don't forget him as a judge too, possibly because his relation--that is, Nick--is just meeting Gatsby too, and he's in a sense quickly onto him as well. Nick realizes that Gatsby needs tempering--"if only he could have been content with his sweet date with Daisy over tea," he alases. He's like old money prejudices, with a lighter side, a real fondness for youth and their eager tries and newish ways, who'd court peers he still belongs to to try and see them the same way; and his having so much standing in the film, gives solidity to Buchanan. When Buchanan reality-tests Gatsby in a way which fully renders him down--the only real murder in the film--and gains back his Daisy, Nick had already been rendered to the point that the best he could do for the person he still wishes the best of luck to but who realizes he has no hope of further influencing, is communicate true love and support for him through his otherwise lying nods to Gatsby's determination to gain sake himself Daisy--the only thing he wants at this point from Nick is a show of deferent affirmation, so it has to be the conduit for something truer and larger he'd prefer to communicate: great realization and maturity and love, from Nick. Nick knows it's likely "the wolves" for Gatsby; Buchanan only supplies them. Hard judgment to the softer man's realization--"Amadeus's" Count Orsini-Rosenberg to Baron Van Swieten, upon Mozart's decline and death. Nick of course is shown writing a book that we know will puff up the Gatsby legend that is being debilitated as his estate is being looted. But I think this is just pause for us to think on the words that are being literally inscribed for us on screen. There was a great show of a kind for us in this film, but it may pass as just a film amongst others -- not even possibly being one of our Depression's notable showy numbers, that we should get to high acclaim if this one wears like the last one ("Forty Second Street," Busby Berkeley, all show, no depth, anything to beat back the pressing accretions of the Depression, and all that), while we know Fitzgerald's words are lasting three-gens plus, and are looking immortal. The book is our true green light, something truer to be engaged in, whatever our current society's overall bent and mood, if that's actually territory we're fond to explore just now, however much it might not be, with all the bon-bons in this film looking like they might just have been offered a little early, when we still haven't fixed ourselves to believing you can be like Gatsby and have fun and possibly be successfully ascribed, at least, as paper-thin, if you've accepted your lot is to live in times with no chance to beat back judgmental oppressors if they're really, really determined, to fix on you. The sin-watching Tom Buchanans are going to have no handle on you, for your mad gambits and wild dancing are acknowledgments, not questionings, of how ascribed you are to live in mostly dream-defeating times. The Toms would take note of that, and would have no problem allotting you your driving "Daisy" home.