Note: I have yet to see Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby. This post has been prompted by Luhrmann’s comments in a promotional interview for the film, as well as by the synopsis on the back of a recently issued (movie cover themed) copy of the novel in stores. *May contain spoilers*
I read The Great Gatsby three years ago, and since have become an avid admirer of the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Having enjoyed the novel immensely, I looked forward to film with great anticipation.
However, while I still intend to watch the film, Luhrmann’s comments in an interview made me a bit skeptical of his interpretation of the novel.
He commented “[the whole novel] strips down to five people in a room going, ‘You loved him? But I thought you loved me (Huffington Post)”. Similarly a recently re-vamped copy of The Great Gatsby in bookstores describes the novel as a “tragic love story”.
I feel this is an over-simplification of The Great Gatsby.
Undeniably a love triangle of sorts is at the centre of the narration, but the heart of the novel- the essence of Fitzgerald’s most well-remembered master-piece- is much more than a doomed romance.
The novel uses the romance as a plot device to further the idea underlying the whole story; the hollowness of Gatsby’s dream and the futility of all that he strove for. It is a novel about a man paying “a high price for living too long with a single dream”; it is a miror for Fitzgerald’s own disillusionment with the world of glamour (Hollywood).
At the heart of this novel is the tragedy of a man whose efforts all ultimately amount to nothing.