Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Last Thursday we watched the movie "The Great Gatsby" (1974), and were groundbreakingly upset by all of its facets. Since the ideas of Francis Scott Fitzgerald including the one of American dream are revealed lousily in it, we made up our minds it would prudent of us to publish a brief review of the said movie:

The movie we viewed Thursday, April the 12th had to deal with the book “The Great Gatsby” by Francis Scott Fitzgerald. From my humble corner I expected the directors to convey the atmosphere of the roaring 20s of American history and to somehow outline the highs and lows of the capitalist yesteryear. And as far as history is concerned, that span of time was, disputably, the most controversial one throughout all ythe history of the United States. Yet to be honest, the flair suggested this hope will be dashed to pieces, and next up....

From the very outset it appeared quite obvious that the profundity of the novel was in no way reflected in the movie shot in 1974. Incidentally, only a handful of the so-called cinema pundits deemed that vision of the novel successful, whereas the vast majority of revered critics dubbed it the worst out of the four versions of “The Great Gatsby”. On the other hand, we can surely pick out a bunch of daft venal pressmen who would have scribbled epithets like “dazzling” or, say, “mindboggling” in reference to the movie under consideration, and it will also be a point, yet it is utterly up to a certain viewer to rate the product. The rest of the geeky movie just proved the maiden evaluation right.

The directors screwed up to unveil the gist of the novel and to anyhow depict the chasm, that stark contrast between the East and the West of the the country of boundless opportunities. Nor did they manage to toss up an appropriate cast.

Instead, what we got was a piece of sobby stuff highlighting the ritzy and glitzy lifetime of American wheeler-dealers of aristocratic mold. To make matters worse, some of the protagonists were truly misleading, for they didn’t match the characters of the book, like Jordan, an ordinary babe of the 20s according to the script, was portrayed almost as a gorgeous pin-up.

After watching one and the same scene of high-octane partying I got the impression of the director as of the one who superficially focused attention on those wild throngings featuring boisterous sprees of activities of those rich playboys of the 20s who whiled away their time in a bevy of leggy chicks and with a decent drink, to boot. Thus, if you are prone to those luche-living ideals that story will meticulously display it to you.

To sum it all up, the movie “The Great Gatsby” failed to strike a chord with my mood and reflections on reading the book. The movie emerged a commonplace for the greedy movie-guzzlers, those avid cinema freaks who don’t care about the ideas, the literary or philosophical insight but carry on watching whatever they are offered. That target audience somehow even resembles the protagonists of the on-screen “The Great Gatsby.” Hopefully, the best version of the novel is yet to be released.

P.S. Make sure there's no trace of plagiarism in this very review.


Ilja, Alexander, Roman

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Gatsby's Idea of the American Dream

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald creates the roaring twenties by showing the division of society. The Buchanans live on one side, East Egg, and Jay Gatsby lives on the other side, West Egg. The Buchanans belong to the socialites, yet their lives have no meaning. Gatsby tries to chase the American Dream, yet his idea is tarnished. He throws parties to try and fit in with the socialites. Gatsby's idea of the American Dream is doomed because he tries to buy his way into a society that will never accept him. Gatsby gets his idea of how to achieve the American Dream from Benjamin Franklin's autobiography In Chapter nine, Mr. Wolfshiem shows Nick an old book of Gatsby's which has a daily schedule in the back of it. Gatsby thought he could improve himself if he would "practice elocution, poise and how to attain it; read one improving book or magazine per week; and be better to parents." By planning out every minute of his day, he could attain the wealth that would win the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby is a part of West Egg society. West Eggers are the newly rich; the people who have worked hard and earned their money in a short period of time. Their wealth is based on material possessions. Gatsby, like the West Eggers, lacks the traditions of the East Eggers. "Americans easily assumed that spiritual satisfaction would automatically accompany material success." Gatsby believed he could win Daisy by the possessions he owned. The first time Daisy comes to his house, the thing that Gatsby tries to impress her with is his shirts; "shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green and lavender and faint orange . . . " Daisy replies to the assortment of shirts with, "It makes me sad because I've never seen such--such beautiful shirts before." This is the first hint that Daisy is a flake. Gatsby does not understand the traditions of East Egg society and therefore he does not realize that he cannot impress Daisy simply with shirts. Tom and Daisy Buchanan are a part of East Egg society. East Eggers have inherited their wealth and dwell on the traditions of high class society. They did not work for their money so they do not appreciate it the way West Eggers do. Like the West Eggers, East Eggers have not obtained the American Dream either. Tom is rich and has a beautiful wife and on the outside it looks like he has the perfect life. The only problem is that he cheats on his wife with Myrtle Wilson. Myrtle's husband, George, loves her, but she is a money chaser. She says, "I thought he was a gentleman . . . but he wasn't fit to lick my shoe . . . he borrowed somebody's best suit to get married in . . . " She couldn't appreciate the fact that George was working hard to provide for her. She just wanted money and found it in a relationship with a married man. Here Fitzgerald shows the other side of the American Dream. Myrtle has the love but not the money, and Gatsby has the money but not the love. This soap opera could have been worked out if Tom had divorced Daisy and married Myrtle, and then Daisy could marry Gatsby. George would have been left there to die of his guilt, but everything cannot be perfect. This could not happen, though, because Myrtle did not belong to either side of the rich society. She lived beyond the valley of ashes. Tom, being the East Egger that he is, would never marry someone of a lower class. He is with Daisy because she makes him look good. "Tom Buchanan is wealth brutalized by selfishness and arrogance . . . " But in the end that is why Daisy choses him. "The trouble with Gatsby's quest was that Daisy was completely incapable of playing the role assigned to her." In Chapter Seven when Gatsby tries to persuade Daisy to declare she never loved Tom, she cannot do it. She finally gives in to Tom because she feels safe with him. She wants her life to be at the status quo again. "She is as self-centered as Tom and even colder." At the end, instead of dealing with the deaths, she and Tom get on a plane and leave the mess for others to clean up. The events that lead up to Gatsby's death are a result of the society difference. Tom tells George that Gatsby is the one who murdered Myrtle. Because Gatsby is a West Egger, he does not care about the results of his actions. And Tom never sees George as a man, just a pawn he can control. "In Fitzgerald's stories a love affair is like secret negotiations between the diplomats of two countries which are not at peace and not quite at war." Tom has an affair with Myrtle which destroys George. All along, Tom has been taunting George with his car he will never sell him. Throughout the novel, George sees through Tom, yet he never admits it. But in the end, Tom makes Gatsby out to be the bad guy in George's eyes. Then when George realizes he killed the wrong man, he takes his own life. Although Gatsby never achieved the American Dream, he did not die in vain. "If ‘one likes the spectacle of fast-living people who care nothing for conventions and know no loyalty except to their own vices, one will find it in this novel.'" Gatsby's loyalty was to his dream, to Daisy. He devoted the last five years of his life to her. Gatsby is the tragic hero, in a sense. He has only made himself better for Daisy. The problem is that everything he has worked for is an illusion. His idea of the American Dream could never come true because he was living in the past. Daisy "was as shallow as the other hollow people who inhabited Fitzgerald's Long Island," so Gatsby could have never won her over with all of his efforts. His one fault is that he based his whole dream on the past. "....there is something of Jay Gatsby in every man, woman, or child that ever existed." Nick realizes Gatsby's greatness by the end of the novel. Nick is the only character that changes throughout the novel. When he comes to visit Daisy, he is neither a part of her society nor Gatsby's. And he does not understand or agree with either side. When he learns that Tom is cheating on her, he wonders why she just does not leave him. "When Nick begins the book he feels the same ambivalence toward Gatsby that characterizes his attitude toward life: a simultaneous enchantment and revulsion which places him ‘with and without'." But by the end of the book, he comes to the conclusion that Daisy is just as shallow as Tom when she leaves the mess to be cleaned up by others. "He has become united with Gatsby, and he judges him great." Societal differences in The Great Gatsby doom Gatsby's dream of a past love and ultimately lead to his death. Although his dream is never met, he can be considered "great" compared to the shallow characters of East Egg. Gatsby's death is cathartic because his dream is never satisfied. He could have never fulfilled a prosperous life living for a past love. Although his affections are misplaced, Gatsby is a passionate man who cannot live without love. When Daisy leaves with Tom and Gatsby loses her, it is the death of his dream. The death of the dream is symbolic of Gatsby's death. If George would not have come along to end his life, Gatsby would have killed himself. Everything he worked for and everything he did, he did for Daisy. Without her, his life was meaningless