"It's never too late to get where you're going." When I moved to New York a few weeks ago, the view outside my window was of these words in a mosaic belonging to the visual arts school. Profound, right? It had an arrow pointing in the direction of several yellow lines of rush-hour traffic, so forgive me if I disagree. Despite my typically jaded post-graduate attitude, I did notice that this was an opportunity. I could see this quote as a sign and consequently decide my life has great purpose and be filled with motivation to pursue it. I confess, I have always had a soft spot for the fortune cookie type proverbs, so aside from the traffic, there was really only one thing holding me back mentally. I was still basking (rather belatedly) in the green glow of Baz Luhrmann's rendition of Gatsby.
It seemed to me that Luhrmann worked hard to represent all of the symbolism in the novel as heavily as Fitzgerald did, while applying his unique style. Obviously this caused a gap in his audience, where half the viewers thought the film should have been more faithful to the prose of the novel, and the other half did not want to face Fitzgerald's ending on screen. I personally think that the people who found the ending unbearable to watch after an exhausting, emotional rollercoaster of a film, are Luhrmann's success stories. The way I felt when I finished reading The Great Gatsby was tragic and hopeless and a little disillusioned. After watching Luhrmann's film, I felt the hopeless romantic in me suddenly losing all faith in humanity's ability to love wholeheartedly, all over again. I assume that's what he was going for.
The mystery surrounding Gatsby and the air of serendipity were the perfect ingredients for a perfect love story. Even knowing the ending that was coming, I held my breath, hoping that Daisy would not -- just this once -- be so faithless and disloyal. I was even disappointed when she let me down yet again. I truly felt that the urgency of Gatsby's love could soften to rationality, that he would learn to live in the present. It is a credit to the actors that I was tricked into believing the magic that Luhrmann wove through the first half of the film between Daisy and Gatsby. Although critics make a valid point that the film did not capture the exquisite prose of the novel, Luhrmann recreated the emotional atmosphere that Fitzgerald inspired. The story was neither uplifting nor cathartic, but the effect of the thought-provoking and painful conclusion on my mindset was devastatingly permanent.
"It's never too late to get where you're going." It sounds inspirational at first. But Gatsby was chasing an old dream and it was too late for that. Moving forward is the only way to get where you're going, which is what I told myself on my first day in the city, staring down at that mosaic with Lana Del Ray's haunting voice stuck in my head. Luhrmann's influence seems to be everywhere. The craze of the roaring '20s is apparent in the epidemic of Gatsby-esque lawn parties and the obsession with the film's soundtrack is certainly evidence that the majestic and glamorous elements of the film made a huge impression. But Luhrmann did not just bring back a trend for me. He made sure I didn't find myself in traffic, or worse, traveling backwards. Standing at the window of my new home, the uncertain path ahead of me began to seem a lot more appealing than settling for the comfort of the past.