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This post was originally published on the HS Bits Blog, which was active from 2008-2013.

Who can resist having a conversation with students about Baz Luhrmann's 3-D spectacle served up this week for our viewing pleasure? Everyone in our field seems to have strong feelings, and perhaps some sinking fears, surrounding this event.

Some 300 juniors and 14 teachers from our school will be walking across town on Thursday to take over our local movie theater and have our moment with Luhrmann's Gatsby on the big screen. We'll be reading the various reviews of the movie this week, and I'm thinking it's a wonderful way to enjoy using some hard-won rhetorical skills to talk about how Luhrmann has interpreted this revered novel. Few get out of high school without reading this novel. It is one of the relatively few required texts that continues to span the generations. This new film offers an opportunity to rethink the text, its intentions, and how we use this staple in our curriculum.

Sources you might use:

"Shimmying Off the Literary Mantle: The Great Gatsby, Interpreted by Baz Luhrmann" – A.O. Scott, The New York Times (May 10, 2013)

"All That Jazz" – David Denby, The New Yorker (May 13, 2013)

“The Great Gatsby: Try Again, Old Sport” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker Blog (May 10, 2013)

The Great Gatsby: Baz Lurhmann’s 3D Update is an Exuberant Mess” – Peter Suderman, (May 10, 2013)

"Why I Despise The Great Gatsby" – Kathryn Shulz, New York Magazine (May 6, 2013)

"Baz Luhrmann says The Great Gatsby is a Love Story. Is He Right?" – Tom Shone, Guardian (May 9, 2013)

The Great Gatsby: A Glitzy Spectacular that Misses the Point” – Hermione Hoby, The Telegraph (May 11, 2013)

“Why I Sort of Liked The Great Gatsby – David Edelstein, New York Magazine (May 13, 2013)

“A Grating Great Gatsby – Christopher Orr, The Atlantic (May 10, 2013)

“Perhaps Baz Luhrmann Should Have Just Made a Musical Great Gatsby After All” – Bruce Handy, Vanity Fair (May 10, 2013)

“The Colbert Book Club on The Great Gatsby” – The Colbert Report, various video clips, May 2013

“A Darker, More Ruthless Gatsby” – Alexandra Alter, The Wall Street Journal (April 19, 2013)

“The Grating ‘Gatsby’” – Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal (May 9, 2013)

The Real Great Gatsby – Barbara Chai, The Wall Street Journal (May 6, 2013)

“The F. Scott Fitzgerald Songbook” – Will Friedwald, The Wall Street Journal (May 8, 2013)

“The Road to West Egg” – Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair (May 2000)

Possible activities might include:

  • a classroom debate either on the novel as required reading or the movie adaptation and its faithfulness to the text, citing from these articles to support a position
  • a classroom conversation or paper on the novel’s validity as required reading in the American Lit curriculum
  • a classroom conversation or paper on theme as presented in the text version vs. theme as presented in the movie version