Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chapter by Chapter Countdown to GATSBY ... Chapter One



"And so it happened that on a warm windy evening I drove over to East Egg to see two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all. Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens-finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run. The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold and wide open to the warm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch.

He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body-he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage-a cruel body.

His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression of fractiousness he conveyed. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked-and there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts."

The Great Gatsby
Chapter 1, page 4.


The Great Gatsby opens in ten days on May 10. I'll be posting a selected paragraph - or two or three - from each of the nine chapters of the novel and pairing it with an image from the film. This freeze frame occurs just after the text I've selected but I wanted to re-look at how Fitzgerald describes Tom Buchanan; Gatsby's rival. I would have preferred a picture that highlighted Tom's 'cruel body' more prominently for this selection but clearly Jordan Baker ( Elizabeth Debicki ) is the focus here; but check out Joel Edgerton's facial expression. He doesn't have the straw colored hair Fitzgerald gave Tom but Edgerton does have the arrogance and supercilious manner in spades. What do you think of Baz Lurhmann's casting of fellow Aussie Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan? Surely you don't care about his hair but does he capture Tom's air of entitlement, and all too transparent bravado? 

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