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F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby" was first published in April 1925 and has since gone on to be read by millions of high school students around the globe, proclaimed as the second-best English language novel by the Modern Library (right behind James Joyce's "Ulysses") and all in all a brilliant depiction of the Roaring Twenties and a scathing deconstruction of post-WWI American idealism.
The novel has to date been adapted for the screen five times, with the most famous arguably being the 1974 version directed by Jack Clayton, adapted by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby. The most recent adaptation is directed by Baz Luhrmann, the boisterous showman who brought us highly theatrical yet also richly cinematic party movies like "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!" It's also the first version to be in 3-D.
So how would Fitzgerald himself feel about his Great American Novel being adapted for the third dimension? We caught up with him to find out. Yes, the following conversation actually happened — believe it, old sports.
[F. SCOTT FITZGERALD meets NextMovie's Nick Blake at a diner on Route 17 in New Jersey]
NICK BLAKE: Scott, hello. Thanks for coming.
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD: Bully! But it's "F. Scott," actually.
NB: Oh. Wikipedia said ...wait, you make people call you "F. Scott"? Aren't you from Minnesota?
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FSF: Sir, I'm the writer of "The Great Gatsby," one of the all-time greatest works of American fiction. You don't feel that I've acquired the right to have acquaintances call to me as I prefer? [laughs] You beautiful little fool.
NB: I'm 6'2". But fine. "Francis S" it is.
FSF: I'm afraid your witticisms amuse only you, old sport.
NB: That's what the comments sections say, except with more typos and offensive slurs. Listen: They're making another "Gatsby" movie. Slight correction: it's been made. It's done.
FSF: Movie, you say? Is that a moving picture?
NB: Moving picture, yes.
FSF: And is it a talkie?
NB: A talkie? Oh, um. Yes. There's talking.
FSF: [Heavy sigh]
NB: Well, if anything, I imagine anyone lucky enough to be your descendent reaps the financial rewards of such a project in some way.
FSF: Alas, the dead are not free to guzzle highballs while enjoying the dancing ebb and flow of a splendidly-constructed 280-foot yacht on Long Island Sound!
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NB: ... Right. Besides, a 3-D movie based on your book is only going to serve to have those who had no previous desire ...
FSF: What is this now? A threety movie? Like a hellish marriage of "three" and "meaty"?
NB: What? What could that even ... no. A "3-D" movie. It's ... you probably won't like this much.
FSF: I've readied myself. Continue.
NB: Basically, you wear blue and red-tinted plastic glasses amongst strangers, and the movie jumps out as if it's in front of you as opposed to projected on a screen. It literally means "three-dimensional."
FSF: Three-dimensional? What is this third dimension? Can you get there by trolley? Or do you have to take one of the Wright Brothers' famous flying contraptions?
NB: No, it's ... it's not a place.
FSF: [shakes head] So this is what Marty, Finchy, Short-Stack, Randolph, Stain-Face, Cipriani and I fought the Great War for. Moving pictures in the third dimension!
NB: To be fair, it looks really nice.
FSF: To be fair to whom? [sighs, looks at the ceiling] These short-winded elations of men will damn us all.
NB: You've been dead for 73 years.
FSF: Yes, well, the bottle is just as lethal, sadly.
[A Waitress approaches]
Waitress: What'll it be?
NB: Just a burger, medium, please.
FSF: I'll take your finest medallion of spring lamb saddled by a dash of cream of celery with toasties, and make it snappy, toots!
NB: Two burgers, please.
[The Waitress leaves]
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FSF: So tell me, out of a sort of tender curiosity: What other bastardizations of my work do I have to behold? Who plays Carraway? Is it that fellow Chaplin? His face is sad and lovely.
NB: It's Tobey Maguire.
FSF: How utterly gay!
NB: Please keep it down. And I don't think so — he was in the "Pussy Posse." Anyway, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Gatsby, and the rapper Jay-Z recorded a song for it.
FSF: Old sport, I believe you just momentarily spoke in tongues. You blacked out and babbled "rapperjayzee" in the middle of your otherwise reasonable sentence.
NB: No. Rapping is like singing except it's faster and it rhymes. Jay-Z is the man's name. Like the letters J and Z.
FSF: [under his breath] Reserving judgment is a matter of infinite hope.
NB: Yeah, you probably wouldn't like him. He's a billionaire philanthropist from New York with humble roots who throws lavish parties and landed a beautiful woman who was probably out of his reach if it wasn't for his wealth.
FSF: Tell me more of this "K-C" fellow! Does he sail?
NB: [to Waitress] The check, when you get the chance.