FYI: The Great Gatsby

I want to bring an article to your attention. This is a review of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, but also a commentary on the film’s popularity among Millennials.

The film, like the book, shows a world powered by greed, electrified by sex, and running like hell from grief. That world doesn’t want to remember the trenches of Verdun or the shores of Gallipoli. It doesn’t want to ask why millions of young men had to die or what good came from their deaths. By 1922, all searches for meaning in the madness of World War I had come back empty. So people stopped searching. Instead they started grasping—at pleasure, at excitement, at anything that promised to distract them from the wounds they bore within them.

“The Great Gatsby” makes that world incarnate. It also makes incarnate an age of unprecedented wealth, of clothes and cars and cheap electricity. In 1922, almost everything could be had for a price. The age of the consumer had begun, and along with it, the growing belief among the middle class that luxury could be had without work.

At the center of that world, embodying it all, stands Gatsby, a romantic, a dreamer, a man who thinks himself “the son of God” and who believes his destiny is to climb as high as the stars, always moving upwards, capable of anything, even repeating the past.

How could that not speak to twenty-somethings?

I find the article’s arguments persuasive, although I am somewhat skeptical that Millennials have as much reason for nihilism as the post-WWI generation did. Perhaps, however, as were are still in the middle of the 9/12 era, my judgment on this needs time and perspective.

I look forward to seeing the movie when it is available for streaming. At that time I anticipate referencing this article again.


  1. Cool review there. I hadn’t given a thought to the movie, but Emily’s take certainly upped my interest.
    After all, I’m technically a Millennial myself — sounds like we should test her theory and force me to watch the movie; see if I appreciate the film more than any other generation. I doubt it, but who knows?

  2. I am not familiar with the Gatsby story, but this review makes me think of Razors Edge in that they both deal with a characters, indeed a cultures, developing post traumatic stress disorder PTSD. War, stock market crash, terrorism, these things drive a person and their culture to excess, either excess engagement in the fruits of this world, or, in some cases, excess religiosity.

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