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The Great Gatsby – some disappointed thoughts

Great gatsby

In the last week, I’ve seen two films set in the past with elaborate costumes, set design and soundtrack.

One was the Great Gatsby, which I was very disappointed with even the relatively low expectations I had. I didn’t even mind the OTT explosion of colour, music and movement party and car scenes wirth whizzy camera work. I quite enjoyed them for a bit. I just minded that there were so many of them. The first hour of the film basically had nothing but one elaborate visual set up after another. It was just a bit much, and it actually reduced the impact of any one scene, and left me yearning for some plot.


Which is funny, because what plot there was, I didn’t actually like much either. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how much of it is the book and how much of it is the film, but it annoyed me so much that there was no character development of even character establishment of Daisy whatsoever. She was supposedly so charismatic, but all she seemed to do was mope about in beautiful dresses, and she did not get a voice at all. The last straw was the big showdown when Gatsby and the husband were arguing and both went ‘Daisy thinks this…’ Daisy thinks that…’ Daisy doesn’t love you…’ when she was standing right there.


I suppose in the book it might be made a bit clearer that she’s just an idea in Gatsby’s head rather than a real person, but given how much screen time she had they might have given her some sort of personality. I just felt so incredibly sorry for her, caught between a bastard husband and a controlling stalker boyfriend, neither of whom were the slightest bit interested in what she felt or wanted to do, and I thought it was a bit rich for the Tobey Maguire character to write her off as a heartless bitch at the end.


I gather in the book Gatsby is more explicitly not likeable, but I did feel that the film was trying to portrait him as a positive hero. Carraway said that he was disappointed with everyone he ever met, except Gatsby, but I really wasn’t clear on what was supposed to be so great about him. A positive outlook on life and ability to remain hopeful when life gets you down is a good thing, but pressuring an emotionally vulnerable ex girlfriend into something she clearly doesn’t want to do so you can act out some elaborate fantasy not so much.


As you can see from the opening sentence, this was meant to be a post about two films, but I’ve gone on for so long that I think this post is long enough so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what the other film was.

Admittedly lovely pictures are from the movie website.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • sister 5 June 2013, 9:39 am

    Ich habe zwar nicht alles verstanden aber wenn ich dich richtig verstehe ist der Film nicht zu empfehlen. Was mich bestätigt in meinem Gefühl als ich den Trailer gesehen habe. Weil schon da kahm es so vor als hätte der Film keine richtige Storry.
    Bin ja jetzt mal gespannt was der andere Film war.

  • Lily 5 June 2013, 10:08 am

    I read the book a couple of years ago for school, and the point about Daisy being caught up between two men neither of whom really care about what she wants is one of the many things people are saying now that I’d never thought of (just shows how bad my teacher was…)

    I’m considering rereading it to see if I hate it any less second time around.
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  • Terri 6 June 2013, 4:43 am

    Many think that The Great Gatsby is the quintessential 20th century American novel. I think that’s overstated, but it is a quick read. I’ve not seen the film…and it sounds like I can save myself that effort.

    Do you take the baby to the theatre with you?
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    • Franca 6 June 2013, 8:24 am

      I’ve spoken to some more people who’ve read it now and it sounds as if he’s definitely more anti hero than hero in the book, and not just because of his stalkerish behaviour, but also in his relentless pursuit of money. I might still read it!

      Yeah, you can bring your baby! There’s two cinemas near me that do baby cinema once a week, on Monday and Thursday mornings. It’s really fun and the only way I get to go to the cinema now!
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  • Emily 6 June 2013, 6:08 pm

    I’ve been hesitant about watching the film because I love the book so much. That scene where Gatsby and Tom argue over Daisy used to really annoy me but I suppose she’s a product of her time and circumstance; she thought Gatsby was dead and she took the security that Tom offered her. And essentially, she’s the only truly honest person in the book – even though she knows Gatsby wants her to say she never loved Tom when they’re arguing in New York, she can’t because it’s not true. Plus, she’s massively aware of her ‘place’ in society, that’s why she says she hopes her daughter will be a ‘pretty little fool’ – so she can be spared the same heartbreak she’s had. And ultimately I always saw Gatsby as a warning: the American Dream – with equality for all – isn’t real and don’t let anyone kid you that it is.

    That was quite an English teacher tangent I went off on there! You should read the book: it’s wonderful.
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  • Lorena 7 June 2013, 5:29 pm

    I never read the book, however with so many publicity on the film and with such a great cast I hope for it to be a great movie. Over and over I keep hearing it-s not.
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