A few nights ago I went to the opening premiere of The Great Gatsby. It was fantastic. A masterpiece. A work of art. The most beautiful movie I have seen in a very long time. I knew the story – I read the book, dissected it. I knew it inside and out. But the movie was still able to grab my emotions and throw them against the wall. Visualizing the book in your head is one thing, actually seeing it with your eyes and hearing the inflection of a character’s voice is a completely different story. The movie ended and I remained in my seat, eyebrows furrowed, the corners of my mouth turned down into a frown. During the movie, it hit me. I connect very deeply with Nick Carraway, I understood Gatsby, and I dreaded becoming Daisy.
Let me start with Daisy. It wasn’t the superficial part of Daisy I feared. I dreaded choosing the wrong man to marry. Settling for someone when I know that another would be much better if I could only wait. I dread the option of falling in love with a man for comfort and the security of never being alone. It has something I have always been afraid of. Who wouldn’t be afraid? Isn’t that what cold feet is – wondering if you have made the wrong decision or fallen in love with the wrong guy? But I think it is much worse when the man you knew you should have married, the man you should have loved forever and always, shows back up in your life? There are many times when I reread old journal entries about how I will forever love a person or read about my plans with them only to realize they never came true. I was so sure at that point in my life about who I loved and wanted to be with, even though I was quite young. What if I think I love the man that I marry, much like all of the rest in my past, and it turns out to be just like the rest as well? I have seen so many people fall in and out of a love they were so sure in. I don’t want that to be me. Everyone who I have talked to about this fear reassure me the same way – “You won’t end up like Daisy. You are more clever than that. It won’t happen to you.” But who is to say it won’t happen to me? That is like saying you won’t get into a car wreck while texting, because you never know. Circumstances could screw that plan over. So I suppose I will have to tread carefully.
About understanding Gatsby: No one wants to be alone. No one wants to admit they lost the person they loved with all of their being. And most importantly, no one wants to lose hope. Because when you lose hope, what is left? When Gatsby looked at Nick Carraway and said that you can repeat the past, he was grasping, reaching out for the hope that things could return to the way they were before. It was as if the light for him was dimming but he refused to believe it. And the most tragic thing about Gatsby is that he maintained hope until the very end. I’m not sure if I want to be like that or not. Would I rather keep grasping for hope or face reality?
On connecting with Nick: The movie took some artistic liberties when it came to the beginning of the movie. Nick was shown to be talking with a therapist about his experience in New York, and much of it centered on being part of the reason the whole story happened. Nick helped Gatsby and Daisy reunite, he helped them cover up their affair. I did that, I was apart of that. And when Nick broke down and confronted Gatsby about not wanting to be apart of it anymore, it killed me, because that was something I never had the courage to do.
The Great Gatsby struck the very core, it affected me like no other movie has in a long time. I don’t remember the drive back home and I sat in my car for half an hour just thinking. I don’t remember what about, maybe I wasn’t thinking about anything at all. But I now have a lot to think about and gain closure with before I can be okay again.
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter– to-morrow we wil run faster, stretch out our arms father…. and then one fine morning– So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”