If you were around last week, you may have seen the Internet explode with news of The Great Gatsby trailer. Set to this music by Jay Z and Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean and this song by Jack White, most people were a bit skeptical, ok, a lot. Including this gal. However. The more I sat with this trailer and analyzed it for this post, the more it grew on me, including the songs to which it was set. Granted, seeing roaring 20s splashing on the screen along with the beats and funk of these songs was disconcerting, but here’s why I think the first at least was an interesting choice (besides gaining the attention of youth):
Here are some of the lyrics:
Human beings in a mob
What’s a mob to a king?
What’s a king to a god?
What’s a god to a non-believer?
Who don’t believe in anything?
Compare that to this quote from The Great Gatsby: “The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God – a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that – and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty.”
Someone is paying attention. You don’t get that song and that quote without knowing a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about the book. That, in and of itself, makes me a little more inclined to give this a nod.
Plus, if you take the song away and just look at these photos, it’s not half bad, especially when you check out some of the quotes I culled. DiCaprio and his accents annoy the hell out of me, but the glitz and glamor that first annoyed me so are actually part of the pull. The novel is most certainly a quiet novel (in my book), but the time period definitely is not. I think Baz Luhrmann (who damn! is kind of hot in his IMDB profile pic) uses the juxtaposition well.
“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”
“It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.”
“A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about.”
Complete with typo, here’s Times Square and “Zeigfield” Follies.
“Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent.”
“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
“the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.”
“I noticed that she wore her evening dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes – there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon a golf course on clean, crisp mornings.”
“Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.““
“Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it…”
“The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun.”
“It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”
“She’s got an indiscreet voice,”I remarked. “It’s full of -” I hesitated.
“Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.
“He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.”
“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life…”
“This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism!”
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further…”
“What was it up there in the song that seemed to be calling her back inside? What would happen now in the dim, incalculable hours?”
“It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”
“He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.”
“Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something – an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I heard somewhere a long time ago.”
He was “one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax.”
“I tried to think about Gatsby then for a moment, but he was already too far away.”
“It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.”
“They had never been closer in their month of love, nor communicated more profoundly with one another, than when…he touched the end of her fingers, gently, as though she were asleep.”
“At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”
“Then came the war, old sport. It was a great relief, and I tried very hard to die, but I seemed to bear an enchanted life.”
“I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.”
“So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight – watching over nothing.”
What say you? Does it help at all to have the distraction of music gone? Or, like me, does knowing the lyrics help you understand a bit why Luhrmann chose this tune? And, most importantly, does this make you at all eager for November? (I know, I know, another great film to look forward to, other than Skyfall.)