Outburst of a 26 year old Indian Girl.
How can any man be so much of a gentleman, persistently, that the title of the book on him, especially mentions this trait of his?
‘Spring summer fall winter …and spring’. With one look at the title, I knew that here I had a film-maker who did not give a damn. About a title which seemed plain, and long, and blatantly exposed the gist of the movie. At the same time, for precisely the same reason, I also knew that the film-maker I had, was cunningly confident about his film. There was no stopping now. I was already curious beyond all reasonable levels to find out the content of this movie, flaunting a title with four seasons and three dots (which I know, dear friend who is a stickler for punctuation marks, are collectively called ellipsis).
Somewhere through the middle of the movie, a word popped up in my head. ‘Esoteric’. And since my affair with words has stood the test of time (and space, to account for all dimensions), I trusted my intuition that what I was watching was indeed ‘esoteric’. The exact moment, when ‘esoteric’ visited me was when, in the movie, a young man who had earlier run away from a monastery that floats in the middle of the lake, returns to the shelter of his master, after committing a murder in the ‘secular’ world, and is made to carve out on the wooden floor the Buddhist sutra for controlling one’s mind, that the master kept painting out ahead of him with the tail of a cat that he held lovingly in his arms as the paint-brush, in an enigmatic Korean script written vertically, whilst two policemen investigating the murder, waited willingly for the man to finish his task before arresting him. For the whole time this act went on, shot from a height, my mind was stuck upon this word. I watched open mouthed, as the master proceeded serenely to paint, as the cat purred softly once in a while, as the anger receded from the knife of the young man (the exact same knife he had used to commit the crime), as the vertical Korean began filling up the floor, and as the two policemen passed their time enjoying a day away from the world, on the steps to the monastery,
Once the young man had finished his task and was promptly handed over by the master to the two policemen, and I was out of the trance cast by the scene, I looked up the exact meaning of esoteric. I must admit that I was slightly disappointed by what the dictionary thought. It looked like the core of the meaning of this word, lies in the fact that something described by it is not intended to be known or understood by everyone. In my world, esoteric had nothing to do with anyone else. It sounded independent of people. ‘Esoteric’ was a different kind of ‘mysterious.’ But then, that’s life! Things aren’t really what you thought them to be. But dear ‘esoteric’, inside my head, you shall forever be mapped to the scene in ‘Spring summer fall winter… and spring’, where a murderer carves out the Budhist sutra for controlling one’s mind.
Since this article falls under the category ‘Reviews’, I cannot close without saying the following. This movie has some of the most beautiful visuals and sounds I have come across. (‘Into the wild,’ might be, at a different level, a good competitor.) Watch out for that charged thrill that could surge through you, when you notice the parchments inscribed with the word ‘closed’, turn damp with the tears from the Master’s eyes.
‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is easily one of the best books I have read and loved for its literary richness. And needless to say, the movie, in focusing entirely on the events, has miserably failed in capturing the essence of the book. ‘The Great Gatsby’ is an engrossing read because of its witty word-craft. The book also has venerable nuggets of wisdom scattered throughout as the story progresses. The first attribute is indeed difficult to portray through a visual medium. But how can one forgive the complete absence of the latter aspect?
I read the book before watching the year 2013 version of the movie, but knew that Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby. Perhaps this is the reason why, about mid-way through the book, DiCaprio assumed the role in my mind’s version of the Fitzgerald classic as well. It was effortless for him to slip into the Jay Gatsby of my imagination. Only he could have pulled it off. I have admired his portrayal of several characters across movies, and this might have assisted the transfer of his body language and mannerisms to my Gatsby. And there was perfect resonance between the two.
The day I closed the book, with much adoration for the author and notes filled with deeply meaningful quotations from various characters, I sat down to watch the movie. I agree that it was a treat for the eye. But sadly, the only good thing about the adaptation was Leonardo DiCaprio. Everything and everyone else were misfits in the movie. The movie was boisterous. Daisy was beautiful but the film’s version of her character was significantly different to how I had imagined her to be like. The Daisy in my mind was charming in a homely way, she emanated slightly more domestic warmth. She did not seem as laid off in my head as was shown in the movie. My Nick was certainly way better than the one played by Tobey Magguire. For starters, my Nick carried about a certain worldly wisdom, unlike the Nick from the movie who is almost a teenager. After all Nick Carraway is the narrator, he put the story down. All those observations, carrying layers of meaning, are products of Nick’s intelligence. It was Nick who delivered the best line in the whole story, “They’re a rotten crowd. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” Nick Carraway’s character has the most intensity and intellectual abundance in the book, and the movie has no signature of either of these.
A very important insight the book provides is into the segregations and turmoils under the seemingly well-off American society. It grabs and puts to raw display the wealthy American league, which explicitly prefers to stay classified into historically rich and newly-rich.
Personally, The Great Gatsby came to me in the nick of time, when I was reeling under the discomfort of lost contentment in one sphere of my life. I kept committing the mistake of trying to relate every new experience to an old one, trying to reconstruct the exact scenario and emotions of a past phase; precisely what had lead to the doom of Gatsby. The book shook me by the shoulder and put sensibility back into my head, reminding me in a simple manner to live with arms open to the future.
‘She asks him if he has forgotten the way to the home of the other woman. The anger and sarcasm, were expressed with such originality, that you could almost see a Krishna on stage, with head hung low.’