How beautiful were Rose’s dresses from the movie Titanic and how beautiful were Jack’s sketches. How magnificent was the “unsinkable” ship. Also how huge and elaborated was Mr. Gatsby’s mansion, those party sequences, the women dressed pretty in the era of the 20’s. What is common to the two of them is the presence of the great Leo DiCaprio! It is such a pleasure to see him every time on screen.
Already wanting to watch the movies again? Well, wait before you start watching the movies again. Don’t just look at Jack and Rose or maybe Daisy and Gatsby. Look at the movies with a different take this time!
Titanic : The movie started with Rose a wealthy “princess” looking forward to travel in the huge “unsinkable” ship with her fiance Cal, her somewhat rude mother and Cal’s left hand! While Jack a third class poor citizen, always wanting to make ends meet, was gambling with his friend to earn a ticket to travel back to USA. And like every other normal love story, girl and boy meet, laugh and fall in love, Jack and Rose pretty much fell in love like this.
But the movie was not just a plain love story where Jack dies (yes, we hate that part) but the movie is completely based on the notions of class based stratification, gender based stratification, stratifying people on the basis of their socio-economic background, checking if the third class passengers have lice or any other disease, while the first and second class passengers merrily walked into the vessel.
The love story of Rose and Jack is doomed because of their difference in social class. Rose, the newly poor aristocrat who needs to marry to refinance her way of life, gives us entry into the upper class area of the ship. No doubt luxurious and comfortable, the people are snobby. Rose is trapped and boxed in by the requirements of her social milieu and is only able to escape by touring the 3rd class areas with Jack. She flees her “proper” life to go drinking, dancing and enjoying and living her life to the fullest with Jack. While the ship was sinking the workers on the ship kept the lower class behind locked gates. They didn’t let them climb to the top to escape in boats. At one point, the rich people are being sent out in largely under populated boats (tons of room to put up their feet and store their jewels perhaps!) Thus your survival was dependant on the economic class of the society you belong to! Statistically speaking approximately only 37% of the total population travelling survived at that time!
And not just this, another theme of social inequality that ran through the movie was that of gender based stratification. Imagine a mother compelling her daughter to marry a rich guy to maintain their riches even though she doesn’t like the guy but she has to do it because she is a woman and women do not have a choice!
Think about the scene where Cal gets to know that Rose was with Jack the whole night drinking and dancing and moment he smashed the table at breakfast and wanted Rose to “obey” him “faithfully” because she was her wife in practice if not in law!
The protocol of women and children first was the worst of all! Children need help and support and nurturing because they cannot survive on their own without an “elder.” What this protocol meant that women also couldn’t help themselves, support themselves, survive on their own, and they needed a reservation on those lifeboats first so as to survive!
The Great Gatsby is a social commentary on the lives of people in the 20’s and not just a love story of Jay and Daisy. Jay a socially invisible man throws parties so as to impress the upper class Daisy, so that she comes to his parties and they can re unite! Through this story the mentalities of people belonging to different social classes can be seen. These mentalities affect the story, the events that occur and mould many of the characters. Jay Gatsby is “new money” living in West Egg while Daisy and Tom, her husband are “old money” living in the East Egg area! Thus the characters were distinguished by the area they lived in, their wealth, and their work. The way wealth affects the social status is illustrated by Jay Gatsby. He does not come from a wealthy background but is self-taught in business and becomes wealthy, and is therefore able to mingle with people of higher class. Although he cannot fit into East Egg his object of affection Daisy will not even attend his parties, he is still accepted in a level of society who never would have accepted him in his poorer days. Gatsby thinks he can impress Daisy with his house and collection of clothes and Daisy does become impressed with this which shows that even though she would deem herself as upper class, she loves wealth, be it old or new.
People are highly materialistic in the capitalist society. Tom and Daisy don’t even care when Jay Gatsby dies and they get retreated back into their shallow lives of richness, no matter how many times they cheated on each other! The value of love, emotions and lives doesn’t matter to them, all they care about is wealth and luxuries.
Well, the next time you watch these movies, look at them from a completely new perspective and thank me later!