Jay Gatsby & Jay Z

The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald Literature Books

I took advantage of the mental lull brought on by severe jet lag and watched Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby yesterday. The film has been criticized for being shallow. And it’s true; it is absolutely shallow. But this is why it is gets it right.

Mr. Fitzgerald was also shallow, which is part of the reason why he became the literary voice of a generation enamored with parties and getting drunk. Of course,  he was also a splendid writer with a sad heart.

But, what’s wrong with shallow, anyway? Shallow is an intelligent reaction from a generation who had just fought World War I. If you might die tomorrow, fighting an unintelligible, impossible fight, you might as well have some fun the night before.

So the levity of the film was unsurprising and, indeed, welcome. The real revelation was the soundtrack.

Mr Lurhmann told The Rolling Stones Magazine: “…in our age, the energy of jazz is caught in the energy of hip-hop.”

True, hip-hop is certainly energetic, but I think hip-hop fit the story faultlessly because it embodies all the over-the-top, overnight bootlegging glitz of the roaring 20s.  Jay Z’s voice filled Jay Gatsby’s empty castle better than all the toys of the newly rich.

Is there anything more perfectly superficial than a Fergie dance track? Only The Great Gatsby.

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