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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

entry arrow8:33 PM | Capturing the Green Light

I loved every bright, love-struck, imperfect frame of Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

How can I not love it? It's knowing anachronism, its lyrical madness, its joyful brashness is much in keeping with the spirit of the book, a tome I read at least once a year. If he had witnessed this cinematic incarnation of his book, Fitzgerald would have approved. The film, too, fulfills the requirements of the book nerd in me: for one thing, there is the ingenious use of Francis Cugat’s original book cover art—the eyes floating in a sea of ominous blue—which turns up as one of the haunting billboards straddling the Valley of Ashes.

And then there’s that matter of the movie’s last shot: Nick Carraway's finished manuscript with the title, "Gatsby," typewritten across the white page. Then we get his hesitation as Craig Armstrong’s score swells, and then we see his decisive act to append two more words to the title, to finally read: "The Great Gatsby." That struck me as the character's—and the movie's—final assessment of the man. It is a melodramatic flourish invented by Luhrmann, and how I loved it.

The film is already a box-office hit – but, alas, the film is taking some unfortunate (albeit expected) drubbing from critics who think the film does a disservice to the beloved novel. For me, the only reason why many critics think the novel is unfilmmable is because the text is so popular, and so deeply ingrained in the popular consciousness, that it has become a "movie in our heads" -- and no adaptation by anyone can ever touch the version we have already envisioned. But as Jessica Zafra puts it, "Whoever complains of [the film's] excesses did not get the book"—and this is from somebody who loves the book with some madness. I've noticed though that two groups of people do get the film—writers (like Zafra) and scholars. They love it like I do.

I came away from it devastated by how tragic we can all become in the name of love. We all have Daisies in our lives: those unreachable objects of our affectionate yearnings and desires that when stripped bare ultimately reveal themselves to be empty and shallow—all shining surfaces, but rotten and indifferent to the core. That doesn't matter. The unsullied yearning and the hopefulness, encapsulating the purity of our pursuit, are the only things that matter.

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