I love both Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, but after stumbling greatly with Australia, I’ve been worried about Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fidzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann has so much potential, but Australia was a travesty. Only adding to my skepticism of Gatsby is the fact that I hated the novel when I read it in high school (probably because I didn’t understand it). The aesthetics of Gatsby‘s three perfect trailers gave me hope for glorious Luhrmann redemption and, luckily, he has fully recovered by knocking it out of the park.
The Great Gatsby is a rich novel filled with symbolism and era-defining examples of the social woes of the “Roaring ’20s.” Luhrmann manages to make his film carry the feel of a classic novel. The iconic imagery from the Fitzgerald’s writings are visually echoed throughout the film in the most fitting manner. The green dock light flashing away on the other side of the bay. The all-seeing eyes of a billboard advertisement. The original words that Fitzgerald organized into his praised novel are perfectly brought to life on film.
A great amount of mystery is woven throughout The Great Gatsby. Each character into an intricate puzzle that you can’t help but want to solve. Because we see the world through the eyes of a proverbial “fish out of water” character, there’s a great amount of intrigue behind each individual character, especially the titular one.
Tobey Maguire plays Nick Carraway, a piece of hopeful fresh meat in boisterous New York City with honest aspirations of joining the new rich. Of humble origins, Nick doesn’t pretend to be anything he’s not. His plan is to live the American Dream – work hard, climb his way up the social ladder and become a self-made man of fortune. With a goal to live in the most prestigious of neighborhoods, he takes the first step early on by renting a rundown home hidden in the trees amongst the most lavish mansions. Across the bay lives his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Joel Edgerton). When Nick’s neighbor, the notorious enigmatic playboy Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), learns of the Nick’s family connection, he intentionally places himself in a position where the two can forge a friendship. Gatsby’s intentions are arguable. That’s one of the beauties with this particular piece of literature. Is Gatsby selfishly using Nick? Is he loyal? The only constant is Nick’s loyalty and integrity to his new best friend. While there’s much to be argued, even with their friendship bringing Nick into the most elite inner circles in New York City, Nick’s love for his new-found friend is never questioned.
Until now, there hasn’t been a single piece of literature or film that has made the ’20s appealing to me – but after seeing the vibrant and sensational world through Luhrmann’s eyes, I’m a fan. His film is gorgeous. Paired with great acting, a fantastic story and enough symbolism to keep you chewing for days, The Great Gatsby is a film not to be missed. Originally slated to hit the silver screen in December 2012, I’m baffled as to why Warner Bros. decided to move it to summer. Had it been release last December, it easily would have made its way into my Top 10 of 2012 list. I would have rooted for it through the Oscar season. Let’s just hope that, come Oscar season, people don’t forget about the six-month-old truly great Gatsby.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.