So We Beat On

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“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

I fell in love with The Great Gatsby in high school. It swept me up and away. I read the last line over and over to myself, a perfect one line poem. It even became the quote I chose to immortalize beneath my senior picture in my yearbook. Tonight, I went to see Baz Lurhmann’s movie version; hearing those words again brought me right back to my teenage self and the twirling-with-arms-wide-open satisfaction of finishing a good book.

This Leonardo DiCaprio version disappointed (Leo, himself, did not). It wasn’t awful but for the first time in a long while I went in ready to, dare I say, compare a book to it’s film incarnation. And perhaps more so, compare Baz Lurhmann to Baz Lurhmann. In the same way Gatbsy left me clamouring for more, Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge ignited me. They were visionary and bold and good Lord they provided the best damn sensory overload ever. I walked in to Gatsby expecting the same and got none of that.


The story needed more room to breathe, more freedom. It felt too tight, contrived, close up.I realize the latter might very well be a deliberate tactic meant to emphasize the story, to evoke the emotional state of being part of the plot. However, while manipulation exists in the story, it’s not what stayed with me. It did a drive by on many of the themes which made the book a defining part of my literary history.

Book to movie – good not great. Movie to movies – hugely disappointing. Movie as a stand alone – good, see it on DVD. You thought maybe I’d go into the themes and all that jazz? Nope. But these words were swirling in my head as the movie came to a close. And what’s a blog good for if not setting words free?

And what is all this movie review business? A return to writing really. Funny the things that stir words to the surface.


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  1. I believe you could write fantastic book reviews. Have you ever done that? I instantly understood and connected with what you wrote, it was written so well. And Moulin Rouge – Yes! I’m stirred when I think about that film!

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