While the Look of Loved failed at the Box office, a massive advertising campaign ensure that the 2013 version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby would not although even with Leonardo Di Caprio as Gatsby the reported returns show only what for Hollywood will be regarded as a marginal profit. The first point I want to make about my reactions to experiencing the latest attempt to recreate the novel on screen is that the film is too long. The second is that I approved of the film if the main point intended is to stress that the self made rich will never be accepted by the aristo establishment of a nation without several centuries of good breeding.
This is a point repeated made in a brilliant documentary about the British branch of the Rothchild family, now the richest is the UK just because they have refused to follow the aristo path of the inheritance, especially the great houses always passing to the eldest son. There is talk of hanging to include the eldest daughter but the Rothschild’s have gone a step further which each head of the family wealth deciding which member of the family with the in national extended family unit should become the next custodian. The present end of the Rothschild’s admits that their approach means they have never been fully accepted by the British aristo society.
Di Caprio plays Gatsby as a man torn between wanting worldly acceptance and recognition but with the goal of gaining the woman he met when attempting to make his way and knowing the relationship would never work if he had stayed and not gone off adventuring to make his fortune. As with many of same ilk he cut corners reinvents himself and made his fortune out of prohibition while others use a war, exploitation of energy resources, a revolution as well as the proceeds of drugs, prostitution and other lucrative criminal enterprises.
His obsession lead him to create a Palace across from the lake where the love of his life resides with her husband and daughter. He wants her not just to live with him but admit that she never loved her husband and it is her need to retain her lifestyle, her child and the appearance of respectability that leads her to go off with her husband away for a time while Gatsby loses everything and is then murdered by a man who believes that Gatsby had not only driven the car that killed his wife but that Gatsby had been his wife’s lover. In fact it was the love of his life who had ran down the woman accidentally and the love of his life’s husband who had been the dead woman’s lover. I had thoughts during the film of Citizen Kane and his Palace and sense of mystery that surrounded Kane and his background.
The story fo Gatsby is told by a Yale University graduate, World War veteran who becomes depressed and an alcoholic after the death of Gatsby and enters a sanatorium where the psychiatrist in charge gets him to write the story of his relationship with Gatsby as a form of therapy.
After college the storyteller moves to New York and becomes a seller of stock and shares and by good fortune rents a small home on Long Island next door to the Gatsby mansion. Although he has no money, the story teller is a cousin of the love of life Daisy played by Carey Mulligan who tries to fix him up with a young female golfer from their set. Through a third party the story teller is taken to an industrial zone between Long Island and New York where Daisy’s husband has become the lover of the wife of a garage owner who services his car. The story teller is introduced to the hedonistic party world of sex and drink of the prohibition era.
Gatsby takes up the story teller and begins to reveal his background and soon uses him to create tryst to re-establish contact with Daisy. The melodrama unfolds. Once upon a time the story would have been revelatory but today most educated people on both sides of the Atlantic are familiar with the history and for the young people born in the 1990‘s, this is just history and old fashioned. It means nothing to them. I was also disappointed by this film but it was much more entertaining and engaging that the Almodovar.