Great Gatsby: a story for the modern age

From The Telegraph:

Gatsby_2136533bA Gatsby moment is upon us. The Great Gatsby is by far the most popular novel of F Scott Fitzgerald; it embodies the 1920s, and has attained an iconic status, both for American novelists and for many readers. Still, the flood of adaptations about to pour over us is unprecedented. Is there something in the air? Is there something that makes this most glamorous of novels speak to us with especial resonance? Later this summer, a new film adaptation of The Great Gatsby will be released, starring Leonardo DiCaprio (you can watch the trailer here) and the ubiquitous Carey Mulligan, as Daisy Buchanan. There are, too, a number of stage adaptations, some rather unusual. A musical version is being launched at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington in the summer, with music and lyrics by Joe Evans. An “immersive” version was staged in Wilton’s Music Hall in April, with dancing and cocktails throughout – the audience advised to dress in their 1920s best. Most curious is a New York version, retitled GATZ, coming to London as part of the London International Festival of Theatre in June and July. The New York theatre group Elevator Repair Service has set the book in a drab office, where a worker finds a copy of the book and starts to read it out; his colleagues take on the roles and the action plays itself out. Remarkably, every single word is performed; it is not a long novel, but even short novels are longer than the longest plays, and this evening will last for eight hours.

The Great Gatsby has always encouraged this sort of reverence. It is true that the earliest surviving film version, a 1949 adaptation with Alan Ladd and a memorable Shelley Winters as Myrtle, takes some bold liberties, beginning with Gatsby’s crooked empire and purchase of the mansion, rather than letting him intrude gradually on the action. Modern viewers, however, will be astonished at the dutiful reverence of the 1974 version with Robert Redford as Gatsby and scripted by Francis Ford Coppola, which preserves many of Nick Carraway’s comments in voiceover and an amazing amount of the casual dialogue.

More here.