The Great Gatsby: Baz Luhrmann Style

We went to see the movie when it opened, and of course, I have an opinion. Before I get into the nuts and bolts, I must applaud the marketing department because it was phenomenally promoted on all fronts.
Some detractions: I thought the movie should have included some other pivotal moments from the text, like when Nick sees the Buchanans coming back from their travels, blithe and oblivious to anyone’s woes. I think that scene is important for character development because Nick refuses to shake Tom’s hand, and makes the determination that they are careless people. Plus, the last scenes where he equates the scope of Gatsby’s hope with that of the first European settlers who beheld that “fresh green breast” as ripe for the taking, were also omitted. Granted though, the film was lengthy enough as it was. In terms of musical score, I’ll admit, (rather shamefully because I know it’s probably silliness on my part) that some scenes were a bit anti-climactic because they didn’t have the same songs as the trailer so proudly announced. (Yes, I was a Gatsby trailer junkie for the last several months). Maybe that’s a good thing? I don’t know. But really, is it so wrong I wanted to hear Filter’s “Happy Together” as Gatsby and Daisy reunited? The power of anticipation is outstanding. Anyway!
Attractions: Acting. Though admittedly, I know nothing of it, I thought Carrie Mulligan was a convincing (and dare I say it, like-able) Daisy, sans Mia Farrow’s dramatic flair but that’s not a bad thing in my book. She had a more subdued air to her, but still captured the character’s beguiling power. Tobey Maguire was great too. Leonardo DiCaprio (bells and whistles please!) was amazing (did we expect anything less?). There was a raw vulnerability beneath the layers of carefully crafted success story, and his performance made them all come apart for us. That scene at the hotel, when he unraveled, not so much at the revelation, but at Daisy’s cowering reaction, was practically charged with electricity. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
I did also enjoy Luhrmann’s creative license in basically Baker-acting Nick; that was an interesting twist, and oddly fitting with the downwards spiral the country went into when the stock market crashed in 1929; the end of an era, so to speak. The writing on the screen as he developed the ending was gorgeous (if they did it for the last installment of Twilight, then I would have killed somebody if they didn’t do it for Fitzgerald’s masterpiece!). The ending of the novel is nothing short of epic, extending Gatsby’s capacity for hope and wonder to all of humanity, saying we struggle against adversity, hoping that “one fine morning…”

God I love this book. Can you tell? 😉

If anyone has read Tender is the Night, do share your thoughts. Is it anywhere near as awesome as The Great Gatsby?


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