You might think, then, that the people who know Fitzgerald’s novel best would have the most disapproving view of the movie. To test that hypothesis, we asked five English professors who specialize in American literature to take in an early showing and share their thoughts. And to our surprise, they liked it.
Any reasonably skilled novelist can evoke on the page the texture of memory, drawing the reader into the half-remembered, the blurred edges, the nervous nostalgia, the meandering associations across time and geography. In contrast, flashbacks on screen tend always to be clumsy beasts, announcing their arrival with unwanted fanfare and knocked-over furniture. Why is this?
The hype keeps building for Baz Luhrmann’s oft-delayed Great Gatsby adaptation, but before we go any
closer to the green light further down the rabbit hole, why don’t we take a look at the first cinematic version of Fitzgerald’s classic (which he hated)?
As much as Roger Ebert ‘belongs’ to film, so too does he belong to us writers. We ought to consider him one of our own.
“My dear fellow,’ Burlingame said, ‘we sit here on a blind rock careening through space; we are all of us rushing headlong to the grave. Think you the worms will care, when anon they make a meal of you, whether you spent your moment sighing wigless in your chamber, or sacked the golden towns of Montezuma? Lookee, the day’s nigh spent; ‘tis gone careening into time forever. Not a tale’s length past we lined our bowels with dinner, and already they growl for more. We are dying men, Ebenezer: i’faith, there’s time for naught but bold resolves!”
John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor may be headed to the big screen…