The Great Gatsby Film Critique
The Great Gatsby, 2013 Film Critique This past spring, Hollywood released the quite controversial adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel, The Great Gatsby. The film is directed by Baz Luhrman, known for his extravagant, visual style, with none other than legendary Leonardo DiCaprio as title character, Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as narrator Nick Carraway, and Carey Mulligan is cast as Daisy Buchanan.
Set during the summer of 1922 on Long Island, New York, Nick gets caught up in the world of millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby, who throws fabulous parties each weekend to capture the ttention of his first love, the old-moneyed, married Daisy, who happens to be Nicks cousin. Throughout the story, the characters are faced with discovery, betrayal, and tragedy, in both the novel and film. Of course, Luhrman’s adaptation is Just that, and because the novel is so widely thought of as un-adaptable, the director has undergone heavy criticism.
Amidst the film, certain techniques Luhrman adopts, as well as aspects he omits from the plotline, either develop or diminish viewers’ understanding of Fitzgerald’s work, or affect the story as a whole. Throughout the ilm, Baz Luhrman utilizes many techniques to enhance, or in some cases detract from, the viewers’ understanding of the novel, most noted the contemporary soundtrack, over-the-top sets and costumes, and unorthodox adaptation of Nick as a narrator.
Countless critics have questioned Luhrman’s choice of soundtrack and producer, Jay-Z, which was highly distanced from the Jazz that springs into anyone’s mind at the sound of the words “the roaring twenties. ” Instead, the film is teeming with pop music, from party anthems by Fergie and Kanye West, to Lana del Rey’s melancholy mfoung and Beautiful. ” Although it seems a bit off-putting with the era, Luhrman Justifies his decision by explaining how he wanted to make spectators feel similar to how Nick and other characters felt when hurled into the world of Gatsby, in the modern, fast-paced New York City of the twenties.
He also identified the parallels between the Jazz of the roaring twenties with todays rap music; at the time, Jazz felt “dangerous,” but since then has evolved into more classical music, so instead takes rap and hip-hop to evoke a similar tone. Speaking of the Jazz age, the twenties also conjure up images of the new woman”the flapper, who brings the review to the next technique: costumes. The costumes of varying characters in the story help to reveal the novel’s major themes as well as the personalities of the characters themselves.
The dozens of Gatsbys female partygoers, for example, don extravagant, ostentatious party gowns and dresses that suggest the extensive materialism of the time; many are seen drunkenly stumbling into the pool, partying, and the like, touching on Fitzgerald’s theme of negligence within the upper class. Also toying with this theme, Daisy sports a short ball gown while lounging around in the summer heat when first introduced to her in the movie, and Daisy is exactly the type of girl who would do uch a thing: rich and careless.
In addition, Tom’s classic suits hint at his illustrious standing, a foil to Gatsbys idiosyncratic light pink suit, white suit and gold tie, and all of his expensive shirts Daisy cries over, which give insight to his not-so-classy upbringing, and his way of hiding it. Our narrator, Nick, often sports somewhat awkward apparel, notably his quirky bow-ties. More importantly ot Nick Carraway is Luhrman’s modification to his narrating: in the beginning scene, we are introduced to Nick post-Gatsby, in a sanitarium for being “morbidly alcoholic.
Nick is then encouraged by his doctor to write down his memories of New York, an exercise that results in The Great Gatsby as a novel. This is far from anything we absorb from the book, yet Baz Luhrman is developing a Fitzgerald-esque narrator: who was no stranger to sanitariums with his wife Zelda. Nick can provide his own thoughts and interpretations that do not seem out of place, and actually unmask underlying themes and symbols that would normally be difficult to pick up from a movie. Like all book-to-movie adaptations, some aspects had to be omitted to fit timeframes, hold he attention of the audience, etc.
Particularly, the film bypasses the half-relationship between Nick and Jordan. In effect, Nick assumes a lesser role in the storyline; although he is present for all major events, he does not actually do much than unite Gatsby and Daisy. Mr. Luhrman rationalizing this change, claiming that he desired to focus on the dominating romance with Jay and Daisy, which is sensible. In addition, Luhrman changes a couple of the characters in order to better fit the film. Speaking of Jordan Baker, she, like Nick, undertakes a smaller role, more of an observer.
As I dored Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan, I wish she had been a more integral part of the film. However, the most conspicuous of character changes (aside from Nick as the narrator) belongs to Daisy, who, for some, is a villain in herself, while others agree with Luhrman and Mulligan’s take on the character. That is, she is made to appear much more desirable to viewers in the film adaptation, in order to fill the typical damsel-in-distress role of most leading ladies in Hollywood. In truth, however, Daisy is shallow and self-centered; and chases only money”old money, at that”rather than love.