Suzie Eisfelder
June 14, 2013

I was very pleased to see The Great Gatsby on the weekend, it’s rare that I’m up-to-date so I enjoyed it for its rarity and also for the movie. I’d made certain to reread the book earlier this month as it’s been far too many years since my first reading.

I almost said it’s a lovely book but it isn’t really, it’s very nicely written with great prose and well drawn characters, it was hard to remember it was during prohibition as there was so much alcohol and it didn’t seem to be well hidden. It’s the story of two people, one who wants to go back to the past while the other just plays with people, it’s hard when they both have money enough to do what they want.

The movie was also very good, it showed the times very well, the opulence of the era, or at least as shown by those with the money to throw around, it did miss some of the secondary storylines such as the dalliance between Jordan Baker and Nick Carraway but I’m really not sure how much that added to the story except to make it less about Daisy¬†Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. There were little things that pointed to prohibition such as wrapping the bottle of whisky in a towel but as the drinking of alcohol wasn’t illegal even that doesn’t give us many pointers as there could be other reasons for this towel.

Why am I harping on prohibition? It was an interesting time in American history running from the 1840s to the 1920s, while it was illegal to manufacture or sell it drinking alcohol was legal so there were many clubs you could belong to and attend to drink but it was challenging to go to a bottle shop as we do now and buy something for home use. Many books have been written and many films produced based on prohibition. I hope to learn more about it in the future.

Back to the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it and agreed with one critic’s view of Joel Edgerton’s performance, he eclipsed Leonardo DiCaprio whose performance I felt just didn’t quite get the words and the character. DiCaprio is a very good actor, I’ve seen him in many things except The Titanic and he’s been excellent in everything but in this one I felt he just wasn’t quite right. There was one scene when we see him see Daisy for the first time and Nick Carraway is doing a voiceover talking about the look in his eyes as if he’s very much in love with her but I just wasn’t convinced. It was still a very good performance just not quite right.

This is the first role I’ve seen Tobey Maguire in where I’ve felt he was just right. I saw him in Spiderman and wasn’t at all convinced there but he was perfect for Nick Carraway, just the right levels of someone who is very good at being pushed around.

I could write lots more about this movie and how right it was but to give it a bit of balance I’ll tell you about the music. While it sounded good some of it had been written in the wrong time. It wasn’t all written in the 1920s and some of it sounded like it had been written now which it was. Maybe I’m being overly critical but when doing a period drama like this I do like the music to be have been written in the right time.

  1. halfway through seeing the movie, Joe turned to me and said, “Is this a Baz Luhrmann movie?” He had finally noticed the similarities in style to Moulin Rouge, which we almost walked out of, as the choices of music not fitting with the time it was set it was so jarring.
    Oh, and have you seen the PBS series on Prohibition? I can lend it to you if you like…

    1. I wasn’t impressed with Moulin Rouge, everything was so jarring. So glad he could see the similarities.

      No, I haven’t seen that series. I should come over and borrow it, and also the rest of the Gone series as we discussed a while ago.

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