Aware of the loud beating of my own heart

I rarely watch the telly, but it was Christmas Eve and I had to stay up till midnight so that the kids would have fallen asleep and I could invite Santa into the house so he could leave the stockings and eat the pies. I ended up watching The Great Gatsby and, during the first party scene, I wondered whether Baz Luhrmann had directed it. While the party scenes were inevitably immense, and the anachronistic use of modern music outrageous (yet somehow appropriate), the scene that sticks in my mind now is the one in which Gatsby meets Daisy for the first time in five years. Leonardo di Caprio conveyed the awkwardness that I remembered from the book. That seems to imply that I believe all adaptations should be faithful to the book but I actually agree with Anthony Minghella, who says in my Christmas present, ‘Minghella on Minghella’, that this shouldn’t be the case. I just think it’s a beautiful scene, in the book and the film, especially as it contrasts with Gatsby’s hitherto pristine confidence. He is utterly humbled by his love for a woman.

‘There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.’

So it’s Boxing Day, and I suppose I’m like most people now, thinking about what will happen next year. I hope dreams are achieved and, even if not, the colossal vitality of your illusions is enough to carry you through dark days. It works for me most of the time. Failing that, read some poetry: there’s plenty of it in The Great Gatsby.

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