Zachary Seward thinks people miss the point of The Great Gatsby : “many people seem enchanted enough by the decadence described in Fitzgerald’s book to ignore its fairly obvious message of condemnation. Gatsby parties can be found all over town. They are staples of spring on many Ivy League campuses and a frequent theme of galas in Manhattan. Just the other day, vacation rental startup Airbnb sent out invitations to a ‘Gatsby-inspired soiree’ at a multi-million-dollar home on Long Island, seemingly oblivious to the novel’s undertones.” Seward comments that “It’s like throwing a Lolita -themed children’s birthday party.”

True enough, but it misses a crucial point, especially with regard to the Baz Luhrmann movie. On film, you have to show the glitz and glamour, and it always looks, especially in Luhrmann’s hands, glitzy and glamorous. How can you capture condemnation with a camera? It’s nearly as impossible to translate Fitzgerald’s tone as it is to capture Austen’s piercing ironies. As one critic commented, nearly every Austen film looks as if Mr. Collins were holding the camera.

More on: Film, Literature

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

Loading...