F. Scott Fitzgerald was pulp legend, Harry Whittington's favorite author and "The Great Gatsby" his favorite Fitzgerald novel. Before we became friends and later mentor/protege, I asked Harry about his inspiration and without missing a beat he said, "Scott Fitzgerald." Harry was so enthralled with "The Great Gatsby" that his wife Kathryn purchased him a first edition leather-bound copy in the early years of their marriage. If you got Harry on the subject, he left you and was transported into the novel with his eyes glazed over looking off in the distance and you knew he was in West Egg.
There is a triangle between these 2 authors and the story's lead, Jay Gatsby. All 3 dreamed large, made his mark, though seemed unsatisfied with his position in life and were largely forgotten by those they entertained in their expiring years. Harry was disciplined and wrote more than Fitzgerald and Harry's work is highly collectible today. Fitzgerald dreamed of being disciplined and regretted he didn't write more and it seems his family felt okay with selling all rights to "The Great Gatsby" to the filmmakers (this is what we learned from the docent of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Alabama).
Would Fitzgerald or Whittington appreciate the Baz Luhrmann film, The Great Gatsby? Hell yes!
Luhrmann gave us a beautifully stylized, modern view of a classic and took nothing away from the original work. He actually enhanced it.
Yes, I said enhanced.
Luhrmann made Gatsby's insecurities vivid and painful. He wove all the backstory in without distracting us and made Daisy every bit the lovely selfish flake that she is. His graphic novel 3D approach seems very appropriate for younger audiences who might be more likely to read or reread a classic having seen the movie.
I have a great deal of respect for the story, every costume, set, hairstyle, score, production value and performance in this film. I engaged with this vivid spectacular world that is the roaring 20s and I'm hopeful that more classics will hit the big screen in the coming years.
Luhrmann is a gutsy director/storyteller to take on an iconic piece of literature and each person who touched this film was craftsman who has my profound appreciation.
But most especially, I enjoyed seeing it with my husband Tom, and Howard and Lot Whittington. They indulge me and understand how much I cherish the memories of Harry, another true literary classic.
-Emily a.k.a. thefilmmom