The Great Gatsby movie comparison – 1974 vs 2013

Today we finished viewing the 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. This production was directed by Jack Clayton and based on a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola (of The Godfather).

I say “finished”… yes, this was our second sitting. At 146 minutes, this is a loooooong movie for such a short novel. And we felt it. The script, to its credit, is extremely true to the source—much of the dialogue is word-for-word. But, as I’ve learned over the years, an accurate adaptation does not a good movie make, especially if it is lacking in the areas of cinematography or just editing. One reaches a point where you ask yourself, why not read the book instead?

I read the book again recently, and one thing is for sure, it is nice to see a tasteful film version. My biggest gripe with the 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio Gatsby was that it is anything but tasteful…a lot of vulgarity (to the point I turned it off halfway in embarrassment and finished it later alone πŸ˜…). By comparison, the 1974 movie is more refined, still glamorous but not raunchy. It’s just… poorly paced and boring in parts, especially the first half.

On to characters… The two Gatsbys are both convincing, but rather different. Robert Redford plays up the gentler, war-veteran side of Jay, the handsome first love with a wistful longing for Daisy. DiCaprio, on the other hand, exudes more of the bootlegger with a dubious past and dangerous obsession.

I really didn’t care for Daisy in either production. Nothing against Carey Mulligan or Mia Farrow, but neither one really has the screen presence and charisma that Daisy needs, IMHO. Between the two, I’d probably give a slight edge to Mia, but her affected way of talking is more annoying than endearing.

As for Nick Carraway, Sam Waterston’s performance (1974) blew me away. He really saves the movie in many ways from being a total bore. I couldn’t stand Nick in the 2013 film (sorry, Tobey Maguire fans!), but it may have had more to do with the cringy narration than the casting. There’s narration in the older film, too, but it’s done so much better, featuring more lines from the book instead of ramblings about alcohol.

My other critique of the 2013 script is that it is so… cartoonish, for lack of a better word. It’s a shame, because I did somewhat like the second half of the film, where things get more serious by nature of the plot. But as a whole, it’s just lacking the poetry of Fitzgerald, which, for all its faults, the older adaptation manages to convey.

Last thought… when it comes to aesthetics, the older version makes some effort towards “believable glitz,” while the newer film amps up the sets in a very theatrical/operatic style. I don’t like sets that look too pristine and orchestrated, even if that’s the intention, but a little style and art makes for a better movie. So I think my ideal Gatsby aesthetic is somewhere in-between the two… think Downton Abbey, or pretty much any BBC production from the mid-2000s. Indeed, if the 70s version had been made today, I think it would be right on the money. (um, no pun intended.)

That said, here’s a few stills from 2013 which certainly make for nice eye candy:

Reading Goals for 2022

Yet another brief and troubled year comes to end. I will reflect on my 2021 reading soon, but first, goals for the next. (Because no matter what happens, the reading must go on!)

  • Read lighter books on purpose. – I read too many serious books this year, in part because I am a mood reader and that was my mood. Still, I will try to break out of that box next year. Wodehouse will likely make an appearance.
  • Find a good RSS reader and update my blog list. I’ve had such trouble this year following people’s blogs with my current reader (Akregator). That, along with people’s links changing, has meant I’ve missed out on a lot of posts. Must fix this!
  • Read more books recommended to me by others. I often come across good books on others’ blogs or which people actively recommend to me. I want to do better at reading them.
  • Read more books I own. Well, of course. Now why wouldn’t I do that. πŸ˜‰
  • Continue Reading the World. More Africa, Asia, and South America to come!
  • Read Dune with my brother. Should be fun!
  • Make no other goals. I have a hunch next year is going to be quite busy and stressful, so ideally I need to take it easy and not over-commit myself.

My Poetry Book + Writing Plans

Hey everyone! I’m very happy to share the release of my poetry book Third Life and the commencement of Serious Writing Endeavors. πŸ˜€

It’s been a long time getting to this point—about 15 years. Like many young readers, in high school I really wanted to write books for a living. But life happened… and alongside it I grew disenchanted with my writing, both its actual quality and trying to fit it into the landscape of genre fiction. Not to mention, I was pretty shy back then and had few skills needed to actually make it work.

Maybe it was a necessary break. I became interested in poetry thanks to Tolkien, which started a decade’s love of writing in verse. Getting over my initial skepticism, I competed in NaNoWriMo several years, which turned out to be a joyful experience and extremely valuable for this recovering perfectionist. I read new authors and kinds of literature I’d never encountered before. And then, just living life—which, ironically enough, happens to be the thing that finally gets me back into writing.

So Third Life contains some of that poetry (60 poems total). And next year, I’ll be back to revising the novels, such as Geronium’s Window which some of you were kind enough to alpha-read a few years ago!

I won’t be posting about my writing on this blog much in the future—mixing self-promotion with classic books feels extremely precarious and uncomfortable. πŸ˜† But for anyone interested, the website is MarianHRowe.com. There’s a blog and a YouTube channel now, a bit sparse at the moment but much more to come…

Sherlock Holmes and Korngold’s Violin Concerto – A Classical Cousin

Warning: Contains Sherlock Holmes series spoilers and extreme geekery

I am feeling nostalgic this evening, so I thought I would write a post about something dear to me, and exceedingly trivial, that I don’t think I’ve told anyone before. πŸ˜† Simply this—the connection between the Korngold violin concerto and the Sherlock Holmes series. Yes, these are the deep, dark secrets of Classics Considered.

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