gatsby the great

Wherein I discuss going with my seniors and a little movie review for those of you who are interested: 

Last year I was able to teach "The Great Gatsby" to my kids.  They had heard rumblings that there was potentially a new movie version being made, so I did a little research and sure enough it would come out a year and a half later, in May of 2013. 

"You'll be getting ready for graduation then. You won't have had me as your teacher for a year. You wont want to go to the movies with me" 

"No! Let's do it!" They cried.

So I posted a time on facebook, invited them all, and thought I'd be lucky if two showed up. 

But this is why I love these kids… Thirteen of them came, and three more were planning on it but had to cancel due to work! In a graduating class of 37, that's awesome! 

It was their last day of high school forever… and they chose to celebrate with little 'ole me by joining me at the movie theater and watching a classic piece of literature come to life in 3D on the big screen. Oh yeah, 3D! 

We walked into the theater and one girl turned to me and said, "Thanks for organizing this." It was worth it right then, even if the movie was a flop. 

We filed in to two rows, the kids started pulling snacks from their purses, and by snacks I mean fried chicken and fried pickles, of course! What?! They crack me up.

Don't mind the horrible pictures, we were in a dark theater.

The teacher in me was a little anxious as to how this movie would go. The book is a little crazy. If you've never read it: There are love triangles and speakeasies and the consumption of lots of illegal alcohol at lots of elaborate parties. There are deaths and secrets. There are affairs and bootlegging. To say it's not a real moral book is maybe an understatement.

There is a part in the book that says, "The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”  I felt like that is what we were getting ready to do-- watch all these characters' lives fall apart and just stare blankly.

But anyway…back to my anxiousness: I was nervous about how the movie would portray the love triangles etc. In the book it's all behind closed doors. But you know Hollywood. I told some of the kids my concerns, and the girls giggled and the boys laughed, but then I said, "Okay, but let's have a deal if their is a sex scene you have to take your 3D glasses off!?"

We laughed and pressed on and luckily the movie was, in my opinion, tastefully done in this regard.

And this is where the kids were like, "Did you bring your book to read along with it?" [Answer: No].

The lights dimmed, they licked their chicken-greased fingers, we put on our glasses, and then…


We all laughed, because Brad couldn't help himself to not whine and complain, even at a movie! It quickly turned to color and we settled in. 

Here is a little review of the movie for ya, cause I hear it's getting mixed reviews:
I think it was very well done and it made me appreciate the book even more-- which is saying a lot, because I'm VERY critical of books turned movie. 

I think Fitzgerald is almost too good a writer. Here is what I mean by that: nearly every sentence in his book was honed over until it was perfect. Which makes for exhausting reading at times because you never catch a break and just get to read a simple sentence like, "She walked to the window." It is amped up more than that. Which I appreciate and think is a lost art…but sometimes exhausting AND makes you miss some good stuff.  So for me, the beauty of the movie was having all that stripped away, getting to SEE the outstanding descriptive writing take form on the screen, and then every once in awhile hearing a line from the book and thinking, "My gosh, that man could write!" All of that made it a great experience from my literary opinion. 

I've heard criticisms because the film mixes the old with the new through the music. The movie/book is all 1920s, but the music ranges from Beyonce to "H to the Izzo!!!" Which I got all excited about but the kids didn't recognize. [This is when I remember I'm getting older]. Anyway… I liked this aspect, but it may have been in part because I was sitting amongst 18 year olds. I think they were more quickly invested in the scene because of the music, which in turn made them "get" something they may not have gotten from the book. Maybe next time I teach I'll just turn some Jay-Z on when we get to a party scene? 

Leo DiCaprio was the PERFECT Jay Gatsby. He made me love to hate him even more. 

And lastly, I think there were parts of the book that just made more sense in the movie. Like when [SPOILER] Daisy cries over the shirts? In the book she just starts crying "stormily" and says, "It makes me sad because I've never seen such-- such beautiful shirts before." But in the movie this scene is PERFECT-- you GET IT! And Nick, narrating, says something like, "On her lips were 5 years she couldn't speak, so she said…" At this point a student leaned over and said, "That didn't sound so stupid this time!" And I agreed. 

So if you liked the book, I think you'll like the movie. And you'll get more of a sense of Nick's role in everything. But you still won't like any of the characters, an incredible feat by Fitzgerald if you ask me-- he got us to like a book in which we hate everyone. Well played. 

Review over. 
After movie…and I know it's weird we're all hunched over. I think we all thought the others would fill in behind us, but really it's just one kid standing up back there. Ha. 

 I think they had fun…but I enjoyed it immensely! A couple of them even gave me a little gift: a "To Kill a Mockingbird" bag [my true literary love] filled with goodies, including Oreos [another love of mine], other snacks, post-its, a candle, and a prayer journal. I told you, these kids are awesome. 

And then we said our see-ya-laters: They said to one another "See you guys in the morning for Senior trip," and I hollered, "See ya at graduation Sunday!" and muttered under my breath "where I won't be wearing any eye make up because I will be sobbing like a proud mama when you all get your diplomas… " but I don't think they heard me. 

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Kelsey Dewar said...

Mrs. Irwin! ,
This made me tear up I am going to miss not having you as a teacher or someone I can give gum to!! I wish I could have seen the movie with you guys! But maybe sokn we cant watch the dvd!!!! You made such a huge impact on my life and I am so thankful I got to know you! Thank your Mrs. Irwin!!

Love Kelsey Dewar

*carrie* said...

Hey, Kels. So glad you posted this as I've been debating whether or not to see it. Your review definitely tipped the scale in favor of watching it.

*carrie* said...

So I came back to read your review as I finally watched the movie today. I liked what you had to say. Not sure yet if I liked the movie . . .