Rolling Hills of Mid Devon, England, by Simon Ward.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Great Gatsby Tells Us the World is an Empty Place Without Faith

Leonardo di Caprio plays Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's new film
Leonardo di Caprio plays Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's new film

Are you getting ready for The Great Gatsby, the latest film adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, which has already opened in America and which will open on this side of the pond next week? I myself have prepared by re-reading the book, and will most certainly be seeing the film when it arrives.

Why the excitement?

First of all, the director is Baz Luhrmann, whose Romeo + Juliet was so astonishing. Second, the cast is stellar. There is the relative newcomer Carey Mulligan, along with Leonardo di Caprio and Tobey Maguire, both of whom are first-class actors. Third, the book is, to use an overworn word which in this case is the only word that will do, iconic.

Fitzgerald is not that great a writer, and fans will probably not forgive me for saying that his other books are duds. But in Gatsby he manages to convey the atmosphere of the time; very few writers ever do this; Waugh is one, but Fitzgerald’s evocation of the lives of the rich and the less rich in the roaring Twenties (the events in the novel are set in the summer of 1922) probably creates our impression of the time as much as it describes it.

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