A New Realm of The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby, a love story made extraordinary by the sad yet perfectly characterised Jay Gatsby…

Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby
Jay Gatsby himself, ‘Old Sport!’

Last night F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby overwhelmed me once again, this time in a totally new realm. I have seen the 1974 Great Gatsby film, directed by Jack Clayton starring Robert Redford, watched those electric party scenes over and over again with complete awe – wishing myself there, reliving the novel I became enchanted by the first time I picked it up. And I’ve read the novel countless times, falling more and more in love with Fitzgerald and the world he penned so perfectly. Nevertheless,  that doesn’t take away from how special I found watching The Great Gatsby on the big screen last night.

No matter how many times I have read The Great Gatsby or, in fact, any of Fitzgerald’s novels, long or short, without fail I am guaranteed to be ignited by his acute characterisations, his ability to materialise the human condition so tenderly on paper and his faultlessly captivating descriptive writing that paints with clarity a very rich and colourful picture of the Roaring Twenties. To any writer, aspiring writer, literature enthusiast or lover of a good narrative, I have no doubt that Fitzgerald or his definitive novel The Great Gatsby will mean something to them too, for me Fitzgerald is the only writer I have come across thus far that inspires me to write and intimidates my writing on a daily basis. He is the writer that sets the bar and leaves that antagonising voice in the back of my head that says, ‘You’ll never write anything nearly as good as this.’

Watching Baz Lurhmann‘s The Great Gatsby last night was overwhelming and spectacular, of course for all my admiration and respect for Fitzgerald and the novel, but also because it would be the first time I would see this great American Classic come to life in my lifetime, with actors I am familiar with, fashion designers that I covet, fashion eras that I have studied and the Roaring Twenties, an epoch that I have fallen in love with, studied and written because of my admiration for Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby, the 1920s, literature and fashion all mean so much more to me now than it did when I first read the novel, because since then I have had plenty of time to cultivate my understanding for each of these elements and neither of them has ever failed to keep my intrigue.

 After reading reviews that claimed that the 2013 film rendition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s defining American Modern Classic was all style no substance, my heart plummeted, I wanted nothing more than for Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo Di Caprio to raise goosebumps across the world. The promotion had been nothing but alluring, the trailer was magnetic, the press was sending out the buzz accordingly, designers were creating Flapper inspired collections, features on Fitzgerald and Zelda filled the pages of the Fashion glossies for months before its release and in the lead up to the premiere The Great Gatsby and all things associated had gone viral on Social Media. It was a move that was truly ‘highly anticipated’ and had been set on a pedestal to be brilliant and I wanted nothing more than it to be so.

Admittedly I was apprehensive when I when I sat down to watch it, for it to be disappointing would have been heartbreaking. It takes moments to recognise the film is highly stylised, but with it it’s visually stunning and what of the novel can’t be conveyed  in film has been translated into a symbolism that evokes the senses that film calls upon. Gatsby was noisy, opulent and colourful hence you hear the music, because you’re familiar with it, you see the colour because it’s almost cartoonish and emphasised and you feel the opulence, because the entire film is exactly so – opulent at all angles. That’s the style, now the substance; I could argue that the style in itself has already offered up a pretty good foundation in itself, but  if that’s all a little too floaty, then Toby Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio’s rendition of Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby most certainly brought the film back down to earth with their weight and substance. Of course I expected Leonardo Di Caprio to be nothing short of impressive, for me he is up there with the greats of our time, and his performance was unsurprisingly superb. However,what I hadn’t expected was, to be so moved by Toby Maguire’s rendition of Nick Carraway. I suppose I have always been so fascinated by Fitzgerald’s creation of the character Jay Gatsby, that I hadn’t given much thought to what I might expect of Nick Carraway’s characterisation in the film. Toby Maguire evoked such a sympathy for Nick Carraway that it brought to the screen a character that was just as discernible and as moving as Jay Gatsby.

In my humble opinion, if you are going to watch Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby this spring, don’t go expecting to see a perfect imitation of the pages you read in the book on screen – The Help was very successful at this achievement, as was Sam Mendes’ film adaptation of Nick Yates’ Revolutionary Road. Nevertheless, what you will see is a film director that has celebrated his visual medium by recreating the tale of The Great Gatsby in a way that is entirely exclusive to film and what you should appreciate is the chance to experience the novel in a whole new dimension.

I’ll put my hands up and say, I am no film writer and that I am writing this on account of the fact that any chance I get to talk about, read about or write about Fitzgerald I will do so, but what I will say is, I wasn’t disappointed. Half way through the film I took a moment to appreciate how immersed and possessed I was by this visual marvel. The hairs on my arms were raised, my senses were stirred and there I was again, like when I read the novel, wishing myself at those parties, guessing Gatsby, growing angry at Daisy Buchanan, tingled by Carraway’s observations, hating Tom Buchanan, loving Gatsby, then feeling sorry for him, then empathising with him…. For me, watching the film was just another way I could run in the playground of the world that was F. Scott Fitzgerald and again, I was ignited. 

Leonardo DiCaprio - Gatsby
The Great Gatsby – Daisy comes for tea
Toby Maguire - The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby party scene
The Great Gatsby Flappers
Great-Gatsby-Flappers at the party scene
Daisy, Nick, Jay Gatsby and Tom
Daisy, Nick, Jay Gatsby and Tom party scene at Gatsby’s
The Great Gatsby party scene
The Great Gatsby party scene – exquisite!

Be charmed, stay inspired! x      

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tender is the Night Book Cover
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

My readers will know that I have an undying love for F Scott Fitzgerald, his literature and the era he penned to perfection. The flappers,  the Charleston, Art Deco design and ‘the whole shebang’! It came to my attention recently that I have none of the Fitzgerald quotes that have been charming me for so long on Charms of a Dandizette…so I though I should share some.

It was my attempt to reread my Fitzgerald collection before the release of The Great Gatsby film starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Carey Mulligan. However, since finishing Tender is the Night I have been drawn to another book, the same book that possibly every other woman at present has been drawn to – E. L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey – there’s plenty to say about that but I shan’t digress. So, I began my Fitzgerald journey with Tender is the Night.

Tender is the Night is yet another of Fitzgerald’s devastating and gentle tales about the fall from grace, the wonders of falling in love quickly and uncontrollably – without reason, whilst falling out of it slowly and painfully with complete clarity.

I love to read Fitzgerald because I adore his capacity to write the human condition so well – regardless of whether he or any of his characters were ever able outsmart it.  Tender is the the Night paints the perfect picture or illusion for destruction.

I had to share my favourite quotes! x

 Tender is the Night Quotes

“Often a man can play the helpless child in front of a woman, but he can almost never bring it off when he feels most like a helpless child.”

“The strongest guard is placed at the gateway to nothing. Maybe because the condition of emptiness is too shameful to be divulged.”

“Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people’s lives. Yet from this fog his affection emerged–the best contacts are when one knows the obstacles and still wants to preserve a relation.”

“When I see a beautiful shell like that I can’t help feeling a regret about what’s inside it.”

“New friends can often have a better time together than old friends.”

“It is not necessarily poverty of spirit that makes a woman surround herself with life—it can be a superabundance of interest…”

“…The delight on Nicole’s face–to be a feather again instead of a plummet, to float and not to drag.”

“…To be included in Dick Diver’s world for a while was a remarkable experience: people believed he made special reservations about them, recognizing the proud uniqueness of their destinies, buried under the compromises of how many years. He won everyone quickly with an exquisite consideration and a politeness that moved so fast and intuitively that it could be examined only in its effect. Then, without caution, lest the first bloom of the relation wither, he opened the gate to his amusing world. So long as they subscribed to it completely, their happiness was his preoccupation, but at the first flicker of doubt as to its all-inclusiveness he evaporated before their eyes, leaving little communicable memory of what he had said or done.”

Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald, 1934

Jazz Baby – Inspired by Gucci Spring Summer Collection 2012

Jazz Baby

by Ayesha Charles

Gucci dress from Gucci spring summer collection 2012
Gucci summer collection 2012

Trumpets drone and Jazz music plays

Flappers flick their legs, with a martini haze,

They tap their T-bar shoes as they jiggle and shake

In slinky tube dresses with low slung waists,

Feathers and sparkles show opulent taste

And bejewelled cloche hats illustrates an impertinent face,

With lined doll like eyes that ignite the night

They dance the Charleston with no end in sight,

They embrace a gathering as it were a surprise

And celebrate being a Dame like receiving a prize,

Seeking attention from a Slicker’s roaming eyes

They roll nude stockings half way up their thighs,

They work the party like an actress on stage

Wisecracks and sharp talking like their reading from a page

These little flappers never fail to amaze.

It’s 1920, it’s the prohibition, it’s the Jazz Age.