Monday, May 6, 2013

The Great Gatsby: The Book and the Movie

There aren't too many movies based on books that I'll see. For me, the reasons are obvious . . . the books are always so much better and the movies usually disappoint. But there's also a deeper reason. As one who loves the way words flow and create a movie in my own mind, I don't like seeing someone else's version. I don't want the movie version to become my book version. So I steer clear of most movies made from books.

Even the Harry Potters. I did not see a single one -- nor will I -- even though I've heard how well they were made, how true to the books, and so on. But my mind's version of all the Harry Potters is so much better than any movie ever could be.

But . . . a new movie version of The Great Gatsby releases on May 10th. And I plan to see it. Shocking, I know. It is for me, too. I love the book. I've taught it quite a few times to high school juniors as part of an American Lit class, and it continues to be one of my favorite units. But the movie trailers have me intrigued. As does the remake of the song "Happy Together" performed by Filter. It's a perfect tone for this grim, haunting, tormented story. What's typically a happy, light-hearted song, Filter spins into a forboding drama full of soft, then loud, and at times, even half-screamed lyrics. It's just right for The Great Gatsby. And I can't wait to see the movie.

My thirteen-year-old daughter and I read the book aloud together. My fifteen-year-old son is reading it on his own. My husband is not reading the book (nor has he), but we're all going to the movie. Soon. And I can't wait. (I said that already, didn't I?)

What about you? Do movie versions of books bother you? Do you watch them anyway?

25 comments:

  1. This is one of those books I've always heard of but have never read. Maybe it's about time, huh?!

    Enjoy the movie!!

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  2. I always go to a movie version with much trepidation. The Bridges of Madison County didn't disappoint. Other movies though, I always found something that bothered me. Hope I can get the Great Gatsby here.

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  3. I'm interested to see the movie because I love period pieces...but I haven't actually read the book. It's one of those with so many emotional opinions behind it, that I'm kinda afraid to! And I HATE seeing movies before I've read the book, because I don't like the images altering what my imagination would conjure up. So...I'm undecided. You'll have to let me know what you think!

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  4. I will see the movie because Di Caprio is such a great actor. I would watch him clean his garage. Once in a while a movie is better than the book (Interview with a Vampire -- good movie, terrible book), but most often I am disappointed. My daughter likes to see the movie first, then read the book. She says it's less disappointing that way. I honestly can't figure out how Gatsby, with all of the affairs, the murder, etc., ever became a book for high-schoolers. I personally think there are a lot better choices.

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    1. Interesting point, Rosi. I taught The Great Gastby not because it was required by the school or district but because it fit my purposes for American Lit. I taught classic pieces, stories I thought students may not read on their own throughout their lives but which are part of our American fabric. The issues you raise (affairs, murder among many others) provided countless wonderful discussions with my students. A chance to talk morality and ethics. Also, The Great Gatsby is such a perfect "period piece" -- it's written about the 1920s, during the 1920s.

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  5. I love this book so much and I was very, very excited to see the movie. I still am, but my movie industry friend told me the release has been delayed several times so she's worried there's something wrong with it....let's hope not!

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  6. It's rare to find a movie better than the book. But I do enjoy them as my expectations are not too high.

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  7. I'm ABSOLUTELY DYING to see The Great Gatsby! I plan on seeing the film in its opening weekend because I'm so excited to see it!

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  8. If I see the movie before I read the book, I usually never read the book... :P That said, I LURV movies, so I'm usually up for seeing anything!

    I'd like to re-read Gatsby first, but we'll see if it happens. Have fun! <3

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  9. If I decide to go watch a movie based on a book I read, it's usually because I have faith the actors. If not I usually avoid it for fear it might spoil my own interpretation of the book.

    I love how passionate you are about TGG and I hope DiCaprio delivers. :)

    ~Akoss

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  10. I hardly see any movies these days, but I was thinking it might actually deepen my appreciation of a book to see the movie version--a sort of "compare and contrast" exercise. So I plan to do it more.

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  11. I occasionally see movies that I've read the book for. I haven't read Gatsby, so I should be safe. :)

    Like you, Barb, I prefer the written word, though if the director (et al) does a great job, I don't mind seeing the movie.

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  12. I heard about this new release the other day and it sounds like the Australian director has done some interesting things with the story. He felt he was being true to Fitzgerald by choosing the music of a more modern era, so instead of jazz I understand he's including HipHop. It will be interesting to see what it looks like.

    I'm a Gatsby fan and I haven't seen any of the movies.

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  13. I did love the Harry Potter books and the movies. There's a bunch of popular YA movies being made into movies. I doubt I'll go see them, but I will rent them. I like to see what works and what doesn't.

    I'm planning to rent The Great Gatsby when it comes out on DVD. Let us know if you like it.

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  14. I am generally disappointed by movie versions, but like to see them anyway -- mostly for the cinematography, which Gatsby is going to have an overload of, and also to see how other people imagine the main characters.

    This summer I reread Gatsby - was neat to read it as an adult.

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  15. I find that books are nearly always superior to movies, except Lord of the Rings (sorry, but I found those books somewhat boring!). And I have to say To Kill a Mockingbird is a beautiful movie. Gregory Peck was so completely Atticus. But that's rare.

    I haven't planned to watch the new Gatsby movie. That's still one of my favorite books of all time. It's such an American classic. Can't wait to hear what you think of the movie.

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  16. My 11th grade Language Arts class was supposed to read The Great Gatsby, but since it was already so close to the end of the semester, my teacher was all "screw it" and just gave us the answers for those specific questions on the final. XD

    I agree, books are usually far superior to their movie versions. (Or TV versions--looking at you, The Vampire Diaries.) Something so essential to the original never fails to get lost in translation when adapted...

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  17. I'm also very excited to see this one! This is from the director who did Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet with Leo and Claire Danes, both of which I loved for their creativity. I taught Gatsby to juniors in American Lit a million years ago when I student taught. It's one I'd love to teach again (now that I know a thing or two about teaching). ;) I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the movie.

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  18. The best one so far was HUNGER GAMES. I didn't think HP did the books justice but they were enjoyable. HG was pretty close to perfect IMHO considering it had to go from 1st person to 3rd. :D I definitely want to see Gatsby.

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  19. I'll see this one too. I just heard a radio broadcast of a guy reading from Gatsby and discussing how books have an interiority that movies can never have.
    That said, I love a good movie. I always make my kids read the book first, if they make a movie out of a book. And I tell them I will never buy them a book that is based on a movie (or a TV show.) Ugh!
    Gatsby should be great.

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  20. I am a little wary of books-turned-into-movies, but a lot of times I love them too because it's so neat to see the world come to life; maybe not so much the characters because I feel like the movie version makes me lose sight of my own version that I carried in my head.

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  21. I usually find that the movie isn't as good as the book, but I guess I'm mostly willing to take the movie for what it is. We don't see a lot of movies, but we're probably going to see this one.

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  22. I agree, books are usually way better than a movie version. That said, I do enjoy when a movie does a good job with a book, especially when an actor I love stars in the movie.

    Did you see the movie yet? I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

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  23. I just finished reading this again, in preparation to see the movie. I hear the sets are incredible. I believe it depends, sometimes the movie can be as good as the book. What I do appreciate is the fact that movies bring the story to a new audience. One that may never pick up the book, but are willing to see a movie. Often, it inspires people to then go pick up the book. The themes of the book some being values and class I think are as important now as they were then.

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  24. In my experience the film is never as good as the book - mainly for the reasons you mentioned in your post. The film is usually either a pale imitation and/or it alters the characters/plot. However, as Pam Torres says, a film can inspire people to read the book afterwards which is no bad thing.

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