Last night I saw Baz Luhrmann and Jay Z’s version of The Great Gatsby. (Late, I know. I’d read reviews, thought I’d try to see it on the big screen, but in the end saw it on the TV in the Florida room.) What were they thinking? They took the literature right out of one of my favorite novels. They took it and smashed it. Why did they do that? The film was so heavily handled, super-produced, over-the-topped that I can’t imagine a single person, of any age, seeing this production and then thinking, “Now I want to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book,” and then doing it. They’d feel no need whatsobloodyever. At the end of this film I did hear Nick Carraway’s description of the Buchanans and their crowd as “careless people,” but, if that had been the first time for me, if I’d been a Gatsby virgin, those words would have had no weight against the visuals swooning, spinning and yelling at me. That phrase was important to me as a teenager, when I read them for the first time. They helped me develop my system for valuing people; they were formative words.
I'm not finished. I wanted to like the film, you know? I thought Leonardo DiCaprio's Gatsby might rival Robert Redford's, but he didn't even get a chance at the plate. I liked Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge enough to want to see another film of his, but I'm so angry about what he and his crew did to my beloved book that I don't see myself bothering to see anything else Luhrmann does. Apparently I get emotional, rage at people who stomp on literature I love just because they can. It isn't the right way to treat me or any of us. They threw their money at us. They committed a hit and run. They were careless and did not work with love. I'll tell you one thing: I've heard that Steven Spielberg is going to do a remake of The Grapes of Wrath. He'd better watch his step.