The Eyes of Dr T.J. Eckleburg
“Above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic – their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose …”
It’s one of the most evocative and oddly chilling images from The Great Gatsby. It has been suggested that it was inspired by artist Francis Cugat’s early concept for the book’s cover design, but Fitzgerald would have been familiar with the motif of a pair of disembodied eyes from countless advertisements in his boyhood. For whatever reason, it was very common in the early 20th century - not only for advertising eye doctors, but every manner of product.
This example comes from the San Francisco Call of April 14 1901, advertising Lincoln’s Tea.
Well, Tom is a sportsman who has never lost anything and I think what Fitzgerald points out at the end is the hot whips of panic that come when he finally realises he might not be the leader of the pack anymore. And I think for me the key also was that when Gatsby comes into his world and tries to take Daisy away, he is suddenly back in his old sporting life, and the game is on. It’s not really about whether he loves these women or not. It’s about what he stands to lose. ”
30thday ofMayin the year2013
The way it’s written it’s incredibly subtle. Nothing is overt. It’s all subtext and to dramatise that was a challenge in a lot of respects. But it was beneficial as an actor to be able to look at Fitzgerald’s words and really dig deep because that was always with me when I was there doing these sequences. Even if what he was saying was overtly something else, I always had Fitzgerald’s words in the back of mind and that was always driving me and I always understood him and that’s 90% of what you do as an actor is intrinsically understand the character you’re playing and I felt like I really understood Jay Gatsby. ”