|Looking from "East Egg" to "West Egg"|
Although the movie was filmed in Australia, Luhrmann had visited and studied the geography of the area before making it. If you see the film, you may think that Gatbsy's mansion, in the style of a French chateau, is way too over the top. But drive up to Sands Point, a few miles from here, and you'll see ridiculous houses in that exact style. There is one house where the original owner imported stone walls from a French Abbey to act as his gates; another resembles a Scottish castle, another a Spanish Hacienda.
In the 1920s, the North Shore of Long Island was known as the "Gold Coast". It was where New York's wealthy built their mansions, commuting into the city by boat or by road (via the "Valley of Ashes" in the Gatsby story: otherwise known as Queens). The area was the Hamptons of its day (back then the Hamptons, 100 miles from New York, was an undiscovered backwater and too far away for a weekend escape).
Now, the houses here are owned by modern-day Gatsbys - as well as bankers and lawyers, there are sports and TV personalities and company founders who live down their sweeping driveways. But the wild parties don't take place there nowadays; it's a quiet area, still dripping with money, but the only people you're likely to see as you drive around are landscapers, joggers and dogwalkers. The old distinctions, too, between the "new money" of West Egg and the "old money" of East have largely disappeared, although there's still a sense here in the East that the people "over there" are somehow a little ostentatious.
Living here, it's fun to think that the area has such a romantic history, particularly if you like F Scott Fitzgerald. And if you're interested in the film, don't let reviews put you off - yes, it's gaudy and over-the-top, but it's faithful to the story and beautiful to watch, and Leonardo di Caprio has the charisma required of Jay Gatsby. I'll think of him, staring at Daisy's green light at the end of her dock, whenever I gaze out at the bay in darkness, with the lights of the city glimmering in the distant sky.