This DVD includes the BBC version of bonus material to enrich viewer understanding of "The Great Gatsby" novel, the movie of the same name and the Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald. This material is presented in two main menu choices titled "The Great Gatsby: Midnight In Manhattan" and "Private Affairs: A Dream Of Living." The DVD begins with miscellaneous unrelated material that requires five clicks of the "skip" button to arrive at the main menu. Once there, clicking on the "Midnight In Manhattan" choice leads to material that discusses Fitzgerald's roots in Minnesota, his move to and love for New York City, his ability to make vague descriptions of New York, Manhattan, Long Island, The American Dream and the 1920s Jazz age more condensed and tangible than people in general or other authors could.
A narrator introduces these topics, then turns over the presentation to a series of distinguished, thoughtful and aging writers including George Plimpton, William Styron, Norman Mailer, Hunter Thompson and Garrison Keillor. The first four of these authors tended to identify "The Great Gatsby" as a dark novel emphasizing how The American Dream falsely encourages people to think that if they are good looking, well prepared and persistent, they can do anything, leading to aiming too high, failure and death. Garrison Keillor saw the views of the other authors as reasonable, but did not himself see "The Great Gatsby" as being so dark, but saw it as addressing the idea that when everyone sets their eyes on a distant goal, it is normal to aim high, then row their boats hard against the currents of life and see what happens while realizing that we all know that we eventually must die. I have taken some liberties with what these authors believe, but I loved listening what they had to say and hope others will take it in and make up their own minds.
The "Dream Of Living" choice in the main menu leads to a play based on the personal, home and social lives of F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda and Ernest Hemingway. The first time I started watching it, the actor playing Fitzgerald looked remarkably like the Gatsby writer, but his accent sounded like a harsh, fake Northeastern America version with no Minnesota influence, Hemingway sounded similar with no Illinois influence and Zelda sounded like someone with an exaggerated and faked Southeastern America accent. When I realized this play started out with the trivial details of daily life, I gave up on it and shut it down.
A few days later, I tried it again, found I could get used to the actors and learned a lot from it. Watching turned out to be rewarding, even though the lifestyles revealed seem stupid and repulsive.