The Great Gatsby is Baz Luhrman’s cinematic interpretation of the classic American novel of the same title by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If anyone were asking for a book to help understand the American jazz age of the 1920’s this would be the book that would be suggested 99 times out 100. This story focuses specifically on Jay Gatsby, a man with extraordinary wealth who is clouded in mystery. No one knows how he came by his wealth, but he throws the most impressive parties in all of New York. The Great Gatsby is very poetic, filled with metaphors at every turn. Gatsby himself is a metaphor for the mysterious wealth and carelessness of the roaring 20’s.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby, and after having read the book I can say he perfectly captures the mystery and romance of Gatsby’s character. DiCaprio has been nominated three times for an Oscar but hasn’t won yet; this could be the one for him. Baz Luhrman, known for unique filming and directing choices, uses a lot of typography throughout this movie which gives off a fun and interesting feeling.
The story of Great Gatsby is largely about the fallacy of wealth, and that the promises of wealth can never be maintained. So many people in the 1920’s were living like their money would never fade away. But as we know ‘So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.’ This story really captures the fact that money cannot buy happiness. The richest character in the movie was by far the most depressed. Daisy, who had a ‘voice like money’, had everything anyone could ever ask for but was still brutally unhappy. She had a powerful and wealthy husband, healthy young daughter and a beautiful home but she was willing to throw it all away for a little bit of excitement with a man she used to love but had likely forgotten about. Gatsby too, so rich and influential would not be satisfied with what he had until he had stolen Daisy away from Tom. Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, wasn’t a man of great affluence but he lived next door to Gatsby and got dragged in to the romantic triangle of Gatsby, Daisy and Tom. Through Nick’s narration we can see that he is fully aware of the disparity of the situation. It makes him sick that these people who have it all yet are so unhappy and as the viewer we are supposed to feel the same way. In the midst of all the beauty and the extravagant partying of this movie lies an undertone of despair and depression.
Watching this movie raised a couple of questions for me.
- Why are people so obsessed with having more money?
- What is the undertone of despair and depression that’s present in people’s lives even when things are ‘going well’? What are they despairing? What are they depressed about?
- Did you see this movie? If so, what did you think?
Everybody learns, as the characters of The Great Gatsby did, that wealth cannot satisfy. If you haven’t learned that yet, I hope you don’t learn it the hard way. We cannot make ourselves happy; the harder we try, the further we get from the truth.
The truth is, Jesus is the only one who can truly satisfy our every desire and make us happy with our lives. We need to believe, embrace and trust this truth.
What are some steps you can take towards trusting God? Reading the bible is a good start, it’ll focus your attention on God. Also, the next time you find yourself worrying about money, talk with God and ask if he’ll help calm your worries and be your provider. I’m convinced the more you trust in God’s provision in your life the more he will bless you with a supernatural joy and satisfaction that money could never buy.
Check out: 1 Timothy 6:10, Matthew 6:24 & Luke 16:13, Hebrews 13:5
:: by Jared Braund of Vancouver, BC
I’m a student of The War College in downtown Vancouver, living in the 614 community, pursuing God in the poor of the Downtown Eastside. I’m currently living out my passion for the janitorial arts, but would one day like to be a writer.