The Great Gatsby – From Book To Film – A Mirror Image of Today’s Society
Fitzgerald’s writing is classic “show, don’t tell,” leaving the reader involved, and part of the journey, forming characters and landscapes from the poetic descriptions
Last night, I finally viewed the trailer for the upcoming sixth film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. My first impression was that it looked like an expensive rendition of a bad acid trip. I then realized it was directed by Baz Luhrmann, hence it’s Moulin Rouge-esque feel. As the trailer rolled on, and I saw Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, I realized how well the cast complimented my previously-formed image of the characters. Even Tobey McGuire as Nick is a good match. The Great Gatsby is one of my all-time favourite American novels, while the roaring 20’s are appealing with its bobbed hair and liquor laden parties. My passion for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing is hinging on obsession – they’d better not “F” this up.
If you watch the trailer, the modern music aids the viewer to relate to the other-era images. Some hate it when directors do this; I don’t mind it at all. The trailer opens with Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church In The Wild”, and then climaxes with Jack White’s cover of U2′s “Love Is Blindness”. A contemporary soundtrack shouldn’t be surprising; Luhrmann did the same with Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge.
Another surprising detail was the film’s 3D format – no comment.
But, such minor points. My main impression of the movie from the trailer was excess, excess, excess, booze, and excess.
With a $130 million budget, Luhrmann focused on the overindulgence and materialism of the wealthy and elite; a way of life Fitzgerald knew intimately, and simultaneously treasured and loathed. It is a classic twist on the American Dream, and Luhrmann has capitalized on the similarities to the current economic crisis faced in America today. To put it simply, our economy sucks, we are mortgaged to the gilts, and are enamoured by those who can maintain wealth, thus our cheap fascination with the Real Housewives series, the Kardashians (yuck), and any other reality show that depicts how the “others” live. Call it coincidence, but I think Luhrmann strategically (and wisely) chose to direct this film for that very reason.
My hope is that Lurhmann has also focused on other details in the story. Fitzgerald’s writing is classic “show, don’t tell,” leaving the reader involved, and part of the journey, forming characters and landscapes from the poetic descriptions. The writing is what makes the book, and is what makes it into a potentially amazing film. Not the era. Not the excess. Not the controversy. Not the stock market. Not the tragic love story. Those are just the undertones.
That said, I am looking forward to watching this film. Luhrmann, there is a lot of pressure on you to deliver us a fantastic Christmas present. For those of you who are interested in the film – don’t be lazy – read the damn book.
Jessica Schmid – follow on twitter @jessicaschmiddy
“The Great Gatsby” Trailer:
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