Friday, May 27, 2016

Gatsby Book & Baz Luhrmann Movie Comparison

Though I was not in class on Tuesday, I did watch part of Baz Luhrmann's version of The Great Gatsby on Wednesday.
Out of all the parts of the movie I watched, the scene that struck me most was where Daisy and Gatsby met at Nick's house for the first time in 5 years. Fitzgerald writes, "At eleven o’clock a man in a raincoat dragging a lawn-mower tapped at my front door and said that Mr. Gatsby had sent him over to cut my grass" (Fitzgerald 83). I remember that in the movie there was way more than one lawn-mower. I recall Nick opening up his front door to see his entire front lawn renovated by numerous gardeners (as pictured below). The numerous amounts of lawnmowers play into Gatbsy's lavish and excessive ways. It is interesting to note that there are black gardeners in this scene. In the book, the subject of race only ever arises in conversation during that one dinner at the beginning of the novel where Tom talks about "the Rise of the Colored Empires". In the movie, Luhrmann reminds us that there is a world that exists out of the white upper class.

Also, when Nick describes that "The flowers were unnecessary, for at two o’clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby’s, with innumerable receptacles to contain it" (Fitzgerald 85), I would have never imagined the scene in the movie. Though Gatsby explains that the flowers he brought home were unnecessary, the word "greenhouse" didn't resonate with me as a room completely filled with white flowers. Although this difference is an interpretive difference, I think it really changes my perception of that chapter. I thought that the room would be a lot emptier. Yet, the numerous flowers are in line with Gatsby's extravagant ways, so overall, I think Luhrmann made a great choice implementing the flowers.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie (the parts that I watched) and I'd say that it was very accurate. Though, I was thrown off by the characters' mannerisms because they didn't really look like what I'd imagined. I cannot pinpoint what exactly I had imagined while reading the book, but these characters were not exactly it, though I do think the actors did a very good job portraying the characters.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Gatsby's Death/The End

Many surprises appeared in last week's reading. Today, I'd like to explore Gatsby's relationship with those around him and Tom's relationship with Daisy through events related to Gatsby's death.

I found Gatsby's death quite surprising, but even more tragic. Fitzgerald really hit me when he wrote "Nobody came." (Fitzgerald 174) at the scene of Gatsby's funeral. These two short words exemplify Gatsby's role in the lives of those around him. To the party goers, Gatsby's house is just another place. His presence at those parties is also nonexistent as mentioned near the beginning of the novel, "Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission" (Fitzgerald 41), which explains why no party goers attended his funeral. I was extremely saddened when Klipspringer called only in attempt to retrieve his shoes. From my perception, Klipspringer seems to have spent DAYS or even longer at Gatsby's house; yet, he wouldn't even attend the funeral. People just came to and left Gatsby's house completely regardless of Gatsby. Hence, if we believe that Gatsby worked hard for his house for Daisy, people's disregard of Gatsby's house shows the lack of worth of the house in Daisy's eyes. Daisy's devaluation of Gatsby's house bring me to my next point that Gatsby worths nothing to Daisy. I can't believe she didn't even attend his funeral. Daisy's absence at Gatsby's funeral leads me to believe that she never loved him in the first place.

Tom and Nick's encounter on fifth avenue also struck me; Tom seemed to be so clueless about what actually happened that day. Tom also tells Nick that Gatsby "ran over Myrtle like you'd run over a dog and never even stopped his car" (Fitzgerald 178). Given what we know, this event further reinforces that Tom and Daisy do not adequately communicate or at least speak the truth with each other. To me, Daisy's irresponsibility represents her "bubbly" and "deceiving" personality. She thinks that she can get away with anything she does by manipulating others into obeying her orders. Perhaps Daisy convinced Tom to get away to flee from the crime scene and punishment. Her gift of deception not only embodies her arguable intelligence but also strengthen societal values of materialism at the time. At the end of the day, I think that Daisy manipulates others to keep her high status and to remain pampered.

Some afterthoughts:
I loved the novel and all the messages Fitzgerald tried to convey through it. The unexpected plot developments really kept the book interesting to me. I can't wait to delve further into the novel in class to learn even more.
This picture is interesting because I never thought of Gatsby's pool to look like that. The pool seems simpler than what I had envisioned.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Revisiting a Previous Blog Post

Last week, I made several speculations in my blog post about Nick and Gatsby that I now will confirm or refute.

For Gatsby, we learn that his background is most likely made up. By telling Nick that all of his family members are dead, Nick has no way to confirm Gatsby's background as it would be impossible to find a trace of it. Also, sometimes, Gatsby has no idea what he is talking about; "San Francisco" is not quite the "mid-west". He has made these kinds of mistakes repeatedly as well – Venice is not a capital in Europe either. Gatsby's factually incorrect statements further reinforces the suspicion of his (probably) lies.

We also learn about Gatsby's true identity. Gatsby's tells Nick, "Oh, I've been in several things... I was in the drug business and then I was in the oil business. But I'm not in either one now" (Fitzgerald 90). We now know for a fact that Gatsby works in the illegal alcohol business. Right before where we left off from last night's reading, Tom yells at Gatsby, "‘I found out what your ‘drug stores’ were.’ He turned to us and spoke rapidly. ‘He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter" (Fitzgerald 133). Gatsby concretely establishes that he dealt grained alcohol and confirms our previous speculations.

I have also mentioned in my comments on my previous blog post, but Nick actually gets very close to Gatsby. Turns out I was completely wrong about Gatsby and Nick keeping the distance between each other. Gatsby lets Nick into deeper parts of his past, though very much arguably in order to get to Daisy.  A lot of chapter six touches on Gatsby's past. My readings have additionally supported my argument that Gatsby only interacted with Nick as a means to get to Daisy. Gatsby can indeed build a meaningful relationship with Gatsby if he wanted to, but he only wants to build one with Daisy.