“The Great Gatsby’: A Not So Classic Classic

The Great Gatsby: A Not So Classic Classic

francis cugat

Everyone is required to read “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald in high school, usually in junior year. I had wanted to read this book for a while and was excited, mainly because of Lana Del Rey’s popular song “Young and Beautiful.” However, after talking about the book with numerous people, most of them talked about how much they hated it. Yet, I had to read the novel for school and I knew that the only way I would be able to read it without dying of boredom would be to romanticize it.
I love the style of the 1920s, so that alone helped me read the book a lot quicker. Plus, the story is so short, coming in at about 170 pages, give or take. Because of the length, I finished it in two days. Since I read “The Great Gatsby” so quickly, I didn’t realize how bad this book really was.
However, the book is extremely easy to read. I was never too annoyed that I had to read it, and never had trouble picking it up. The only thing that I hate is the writing style. I got bored really easily because of the unnecessary wording, and my mind would wander. But, as soon as my mind wandered, something important would happen and I wouldn’t realize I should’ve been paying attention until it was too late and now I’m extremely confused.
This is also a fault of Fitzgerald. He writes so vaguely so it’s difficult to understand what’s going on when something extremely important happens (like the end of the book.) Speaking of the end of the book, without spoilers, I was so disappointed. Now, I’ve never disliked sad/complex endings to books. In fact, I really enjoy them because it makes me think more about how and why it happened. But, this one feels lazy and rushed with Fitzgerald writing it. Again, my mind was wandering, and then all of a sudden the ending happened and I had to go back and re-read to understand what happened because it is so vague. This is why I just wanted to read it as fast as possible, and also so I wouldn’t have the pressure of finishing chapters on time for class.
However, after reading the book for class we watched the 2013 movie version of “The Great Gatsby” directed by Baz Luhrmann. I was really excited about this movie and again asked around what people thought about it, and was again a bit disappointed by what others thought of it. Nevertheless, I didn’t want other opinions to affect mine, so I continued to romanticize it in hopes of the movie saving the book.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to watch. It was possibly one of the worst movies I have ever seen, mainly because of the directing style and I thought it didn’t relate to the book in the slightest. I suppose it followed the book, but the way the movie is directed turned it into a different movie in my opinion.
It took the 1920s and tried to make it more modern by adding random rap songs in scenes when it was completely unnecessary. Those songs stay throughout the movie for about half of it, but then Lana Del Rey comes in with her song “Young and Beautiful,” which makes absolutely no sense. The song is beautiful and stunning, but the change between genres makes little to no sense to me. The switch could be interpreted into a character’s development (like Gatsby’s love for Daisy finally being revealed) but it simply doesn’t work.
However, that doesn’t mean the director is bad at his job. After seeing “Elvis,” which was also directed by Baz Luhrmann, I can understand that he didn’t try to make “The Great Gatsby” terrible and that it is simply his directing style.
If you’ve seen “Elvis,” then you understand what I mean when I say that Luhrmann is a total maximalist. The songs, the colors, the camera angles, and just the overall directing style is above and beyond overwhelming, but it fits a movie like “Elvis,” but not “The Great Gatsby.” Hopefully, he can stick to more movies like “Elvis,” when the music choice actually makes sense.
Overall, I rated “The Great Gatsby” 3/5 stars because it wasn’t by any means the worst book I have ever read, but was definitely not my favorite read. As for the movie, it gets a 1/5 because it is one of the worst movies I have ever had to sit through. Whether or not high school should still make you read/watch “The Great Gatsby,” it is most likely one of the easiest books you’ll ever have to read for school, mostly because of the length of the novel. If you read it as quickly as possible, it’ll be a breeze to get through.