I’m back. Perhaps I should apologize for my absence or give a litany of excuses. Ah, but I respect my readers too much for trivial words of appeasement. I will admit the inspiration that aroused a need for the resurrection of this site.
F. Scott. (He and I are on a first name basis, you know.)
Yes, Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby is now in theatres. 3D at that. I saw it in simple 2D last week and it has taken me a full week to form a complete opinion.
The verdict? I hate loved it.
I’ve always been fond of Luhrman’s vision since Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet. So I waited two years, with anticipation sticky on my tongue to have The Great Gatsby burst before my eyes with life. Luhrman satisfied with dazzling party scenes and fast New York shots. I especially loved the intimate scene among huge trees with fireflies sparkling in the dark.
But he seemed to forget one great important detail. The story of Gatsby and Daisy? Well, it happened in the 1920’s. As glamorous as the time may have been, Lurhmann remembered simply in costume. Kind of. Everything else failed to deliver me to a time period of grace and glory. I have a hard time seeing Gatsby at his parties, which played like a theme party at a modern day club. And don’t even get me started on the music. I expected a modern day take on Louis Armstrong or Fats Waller. Beyoncé could have channeled Lena Horne and put a new spin on Ain’t Misbehavin. Mamie Smith? Bessie Smith? Al Jolson? Their music is all waiting to have a modern twist. It just didn’t quite fit the proper and proud Mr. Gatsby. Don’t tell me they couldn’t have done something with this…
Speaking of Gatsby…Can we discuss Leo? Initially, I loved his portrayal with the exception of his pension for leaving the “t” off “Old Sport”. I had a little giggle every time he called some one an “Old Spore”. And his attempt at attempting a Boston accent every now. What I did like was the way Leo gave us a glimpse into Gatsby’s desperation, more so than I’d ever seen before. In hindsight, it was his exploration of that need that was far over reached.
Which leaves me to discuss my main critique of the film. You see, the best thing about F. Scott’s book is subtlety. In fact, everything about Gatsby was subtle, despite the loud parties and fast cars. He offered the world a boisterous playground, but he, himself? He boiled just beneath the surface because of his pride and fear of being discovered.
Sadly, I think if anyone could have played Gatsby’s inner life, I believe it would have been Leo. But he went the easy route of over exaggerating.That’s what I didn’t like about Baz Luhrman’s interpretation on screen. What wasn’t portrayed? That’s an entirely different story.
The Great Gatsby is far from just another love story. It isn’t just about an obsessive man and shallow women. Not parties and affairs and material things. Not really.
The Great Gatsby is about circumstances and perseverance and desires and delusions. It’s about the haves. And the have-nots constant struggle and admiration of the haves. What they will do to get a taste of their life. It’s about loving an ideal instead of people. The Great Gatsby is a glimpse into humanity, indicting of societies values.
The Great Gatsby is a book. It’s an incredible book that perhaps, regardless of who plays the part or who calls the shots, can’t be justly portrayed in two hours and twenty two minutes.
I still loved it. As a movie apart from the book, it was beautifully shot and wonderfully acted. It was everything I expected from Mr. Luhrman.
So? If you want to see a good movie, I highly recommend it. But don’t watch it as the book. For that, stay home and curl up with F. Scott’s beautiful words.
Or maybe, I have a touch of Gatsby’s soul…
“There must have been moments that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams–not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.”