This movie is almost three hours long. It was inspired by this quarter size, 52-page short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Creative License, for the win.
If you click here it takes you to a site where you can read the short story. It shouldn’t take you very long… I endorse it.
One Summer afternoon, worried that I would run out of interesting things to read and review and thus lose any sort of blog fodder I had developed I panicked and visited The Hillsborough County Public Library website and searched away until I ended up with about 80 books (or 9) that I’ve been lugging around for the better part of two months. I picked some doozies that I’m not very interested in but I thought might be impressive.
This one, well, I’m not really sure how I figured out it was a short story. I saw The Adjustment Bureau another short story turned movie and I think it caused me to research how many movies were based on a short story (or something like that). Anyway, I ended up with a tiny little book with an amazing cover and I read the whole thing in about 45 minutes total. (I fell asleep halfway through the first run; Pam proceeded to tease me about this fact).
I’d seen the movie first so the twist was unfortunately expected. But that is sort of the thing about Fitzgerald’s short stories; he didn’t seem too concerned with hiding twists. He is a blunt storyteller (I “flip-flop” in my opinion about his bluntness). Regardless the movie takes some great departures in telling the story and creates it’s own sort of beautiful story in the process. The short story is understandably limited to the time period that Fitzgerald knew; the movie moved to encompass a certain set of eras and a location that was important to the lead actor: New Orleans. (A brilliant stroke, might I add… the fact that it was set in New Orleans rather than up north – like the short story – I think added to the mystic part of the story).
Regardless, the elements of age, maturity, and worth are still very well explored in the short story. The book group questions at the end were quite illuminating and added a lot to my reading experience.
The whole thing makes me quite curious (no pun intended) though. The movie’s tag-line is “Life can only be understood backwards, it must be lived forward”. And in the short story the only time Benjamin seems really happy is in his “apparent” 30s-40s. What I’m curious about is the next decade I’ll experience. I keep coming across accounts that the 30s are the best time of your life (though most people I knew turning 30 freaked out about it). My twenties have not been spectacular thus far. It’s sort of an epidemic. tbt* ran a feature article last week about Generation Limbo: college educated part time employees. They put a positive spin on it claiming that more people in my generation who graduated after 2008 have taken up opportunities in the arts and volunteering which is better than full-time couch potatoeing. But it also means lifelong careers are not seen as the goal for my generation.
What I find particularly interesting is this: had I stuck to the plan I would have graduated in 2008. And who knows where I’d be now. I know that’s a useless train of thought, but that article definitely got me wondering. And this short story has me pondering. After all, that’s the mark of good fiction, right?