“You can't repeat the past.”
“Can't repeat the past? Why, of course you can.”
Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is one of 2013’s highly anticipated films. I am not sure if the hype was around the book since it is one of the best American novels ever written or if it was for that fact that Leonardo DiCaprio was Gatsby or the Roaring Twenties is so fascinating and is seeing a resurge in interest or whatever other reason you can think of. Personally think it was so anticipated because it is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and who has not read this novel either you were forced to read it in high school (I was two years in a row) or maybe you got curious and gave it a try.
So if you have been living under a rock all your life and have never read the novel I will give you a quick synopsis:
Nick Carraway (Tobey McGuire) has moved to New York from the Midwest. He lives in a former gardener’s house among huge mansions out on Long Island. Nick’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) lives on the other side of the Sound with her husband Tom (Joel Edgerton). Daisy and Tom are two self involved and selfish people. Daisy lives in her own foolish world while Tom is notorious for sleeping around with other women.
Nick’s rich neighbor Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) is a man only rumored about. Every weekend he throws lavish parties with thousands of people coming in from the city. One day Nick receives an invitation to come to a party. All night he looks for the host but no one knows what he actually looks like. Nick finally meets the elusive man by accident.
Nick becomes a silent observer to Gatsby’s privileged life. He goes wherever Gatsby goes never asking any questions. One day Gatsby finds out that Nick is Daisy’s cousin. Daisy has been Gatsby’s obsession and motive for everything in his life for the past five years.
Life Romeo and Juliet, Gatsby and Daisy’s meeting at Nick’s house will eventually prove fatal.
I have read the book three times (and have also done a lot of research on it either on my own or as part of a school paper) so I can say that Luhrmann was faithful to book with the characters. As far as the atmosphere and the feeling of the story Luhrmann dropped the ball. The 1920s was a great time of social upheaval where old traditions were broken. Women were coming into their own and becoming independent. Wealth was everywhere in the big cities. With these changes came new challenges for men and women. Fitzgerald’s book captures the social aspects of the 1920s like no other author at the time (or since) was able to do. He witnessed what he wrote he went to big Hollywood parties and those of rich people. I look at Luhrmann’s movie this way: he made his version of Gatsby like a dream where the people had no cares and nothing seemed real. It was an exaggerated dream of what the 1920s were really like. Fitzgerald’s Gatsby is the truth it is real the people are real their feelings and longings and desires are real. I do not want to bash Luhrmann’s interpretation because that is what this new film is it is an interpretation. The story was purely Fitzgerald the interpretation was with the scenery, colors, narration, and several other aspects.
Three things that really bugged me about the movie:
1. Way too long. I got so antsy and uncomfortable sitting in the theater because after sometime the story began to drag on.
2. Tobey McGuire as Nick Carraway. Seriously cannot stand Tobey McGuire. I was willing to look him over thinking he might be good in the part and he was just bad. Maybe it was also the way Nick was written for the movie. He seemed obsessed with Gatsby and watching him pine over Daisy.
3. Absolutely hated the modern music especially the rap music in some scenes. Alright, I understand this is part of Luhrmann’s interpretation of the story and his own personal touch he likes to do but good god I hated the music mixed in with the 1920s.
Besides Tobey McGuire, the cast was perfect. Every character was as how I imagined them in them book. Leonardo DiCaprio was flawless. I think I drooled all over when he was wearing the white suit! Carey Mulligan I was a little leery of playing Daisy but after the first few minutes she was on screen she was fantastic. Joel Edgerton deserves a lot of credit he was outstanding as Tom. I completely forgot Isla Fischer was Myrtle Wilson so when I saw her for the first time my mouth dropped in shock. Myrtle is supposed to look like a hooker and act like one and Fischer nailed it she was so convincing as the character. Elizabeth Dibicki plays Jordan Baker. She is exactly how I pictured Jordan in the book- tall, short brown hair, a thin body perfect for being a professional player, and stunning eyes. Dibicki has not been in many movies besides this one. I hope to see her in more I really enjoyed her performance.
The costumes were spectacular even if they were extravagant, exaggerated, and highly flamboyant even by 1920s standards (the costumes were also modern. Women in the twenties were a bit bigger and the clothes were definitely not form fitting. The costume designer for The Artist did the same thing as the costume designers for Gatsby they made the clothes more fitting to the actress’ bodies). In collaboration with costume designer Catherine Martin, Prada designed the clothes for the women. Ever since seeing an amazing exhibit of Prada’s clothes last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I have become fascinated with her ideas of what fashion is. What seems to be her main idea is if she thinks something like a color or a design is ugly she puts it in her clothes. There were some costumes that the design of the dress was gorgeous but the patterns were a little questionable. Prada also likes skirts she feels that for women there is a spiritual connection to the earth and to being a woman. The dresses were definitely fashioned in a way that draws the eyes downward. Prada’s designs are sp unique and I will say eccentric and they fit wonderfully with Luhrmann’s world of Jay Gatsby. Brooks Brothers designed the costumes for the men. There is nothing I like more than seeing men from the 1920s to the 1950s in beautifully fitted and cut suits. Let me say this, if I ever get a boyfriend that has a job where he has to wear suits and can afford to buy the best he is going to Brooks Brothers I will make him!
I applaud Baz Luhrmann for making his interpretation of The Great Gatsby different from what had been done four times before. The Great Gatsby is a story about the 1920s any way you look at it; it absolutely belongs to that time. Giving the story a modern day twist takes away from the essence and the soul of what F. Scott Fitzgerald intended his book to be about. With all the things I have said against this version of The Great Gatsby I absolutely suggest seeing it. I can only hope if you have not read the book you will seek it out to buy or borrow and maybe if you are really interested research the 1920s. The 1920s is where America as we know it to be today took off. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jay Gatsby played a significant part of helping that take off.