“I sat and looked toward the building where Naoko lived. It was easy to tell which room was hers. All I had to do was find the one window toward the back where a faint light trembled. I focused on that point of light for a long, long time. It made me think of something like the final throb of a soul’s dying embers. I wanted to cup my hands over what was left and keep it alive. I went on watching the way Jay Gatsby watched that tiny light on the opposite shore night after night.”
The above quote is from the novel ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami. It was my first taste of the Great Gatsby (it being Murakami’s Favorite Novel) and it was that quote about Jay Gatsby watching that tiny light that drew me to the book itself which I read after. It’s this tiny light, this speck of hope through the fog which endeared me to the book and the character it was named after. I came across the 1974 movie adaptation of the novel a few months after and felt rather unimpressed with the story and the cast, all except for Robert Redford. There was something a little too direct and….”normal” about the way it was made. Something was lacking.
Fast forward to 2013 and I’ve just got out of the cinema after seeing the 3D (fu*k 3D) version of The Great Gatsby.
It captures the vibrancy and the flavor of the novel depicting a more ignorant and innocent time which is brought to vivid life with 1920s music smashed into songs of 21st century artists. It might seem unrealistic, dream like but it really does reflect the feeling that such a time and story represents more than the actual period itself would have. It’s a fantastic adaptation and the best one so far.
The rocking soundtrack comes in line with today’s clubs I sometimes (drunkenly only) find myself in. Tying itself into the modern youth culture party scene opens the film up to a more fragile audience who don’t have time to read books anymore. So the film has something to attract everyone really.
My one grip might have to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. I felt he overplayed Gatsby and the underlying aggression of the character came through a little too early on. I still like Redford’s reserved Gatsby but again we are dealing with a 21st Century youth audience who want to see their characters bleed emotion.
The film ends with what I felt was missing from the 1974 version. That light on the distant shore and while the imagery of the light might be akin to smacking us over the head with a hammer it does the job of getting onto screen with images what the Author had got onto our minds through words. While that light isn’t the all of the novel it doesn’t need to be. What we have here is a movie that took the strongest themes you are left with after reading the novel and that theme is that can’t go back to the past, no matter what, it will never be the same. It’s just a dream, a memory.
Gods do I love this Quote: “his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.” – Nick