Oh, the green light. If you have read the novel “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, you are well aware of the green light, and everything it stood for in the story. It exists in the most recent film adaptation by director Baz Lurhmann, The Great Gatsby, coupled with an exaggerated quality of decadence and style like only Lurhmann can create on screen.
Built around a frenetic, never halting tempo, The Great Gatsby approaches the love story between Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Daisy (Carey Mulligan) like a fervent attempt at love, that never actually escalates to great romanticism or societal commentary–save for a final scene that decimates any part of you that may have liked Daisy for even a moment. Then again, has anyone ever liked Daisy? The important thing to remember in The Great Gatsby is that it is Nick Carraway’s story, told from his point-of-view and from his own memories. Those memories are being put to the page as Nick recites what happened in the Spring of 1922 just outside New York City, and within its city limits. The lust for the parade of parties, the shrill of a telephone signaling infidelity, a deep yearning to rediscover a love that was once lost, and the spoiled riches of the spoiled, the well-kept, and the disastrous results of emotional turmoil. These are the elements that make The Great Gatsby an unforgettable story. As told through the direction of Baz Lurhmann the story suffers in that it does not showcase deeper meaning, aiming instead to glorify the immorality, corruption and deceit, and all else with a shiny gloss that leaves the viewer captivated not by the depth of the story but by the lengths at which Luhrmann has gone to create an exciting hyperbolic world.
Gatsby, the enigmatic character he is known to be, is seen in Lurhmann’s adaptation as more dark, mysterious, and outwardly frightening. Leonardo DiCaprio winks and smiles at the audience, as he moves from being humble, nervous, and desperate for love to a force of anger with perceived entitlement to Daisy. It is without a doubt one of the finer, and less “DiCaprio playing at being DiCaprio,” performances to come from him in years. While Gatsby may be lacking in the more picturesque view of a love-struck hero, he remains an engaging character with whom a complicated set of ideals are constantly at play. But Lurhmann does not delve deep enough into any of the characters to actually give The Great Gatsby more life than the fantastical elements production design and cinematography provide. The film is a spectacle, and nothing more. It caters to the eye, the magical experience of watching a movie, and sets forth cartoonish caricatures throughout. The cartoonish nature of The Great Gatsby strips away the deeper meanings the source material readily provided, and it is without consequence. The looseness at which the adaptation plays may upset “The Great Gatsby” loving crowd. I would hope one can realize this is an interpretation of a text, and not meant to be a simple recreation. Lurhmann is not a director who creates emotionally rich movies, he creates spectacles rooted in popular culture taken from great works of the past; The Great Gatsby is one of the greatest of his creations.
It is the eccentricity of the film that enchants the viewer, and the sole interest in discovering where the allure will take you. Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby will not hold up as a great adaptation of a beloved novel; it will stand apart on its own as a wholly mesmerizing filmic experience.
The Great Gatsby was screened during the Film Independent at LACMA film series on May 4, 2013. For more information on the Film Independent at LACMA film series visit the official website here.
From the uniquely imaginative mind of writer/producer/director Baz Luhrmann comes the new big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby”. In his adaptation, the filmmaker combines his distinctive visual, sonic, and storytelling styles in 3 Dimensions, weaving a Jazz Age cocktail faithful to Fitzgerald’s text and relevant to now. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the title role.
“The Great Gatsby” follows would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without of the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.