When it was first announced that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book The Great Gatsby would soon be made into a new movie, many fans, including myself, rejoiced. Others, however, scowled and complained, knowing that the movie would do no justice to the brilliance of the American Novel. While I still don’t think any movie adaptation can take my breath away like the book, I have high hopes for the 2012 release of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
The Great Gatsby is first and foremost a story about the American Dream. New Yorkers are reveling in their money, celebrating the end of WWI, and sneaking behind the government’s back to drink alcohol during Prohibition. Our narrator, Nick Carraway, visits his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom. He eventually meets and befriends Jay Gatsby, a mysterious war vet who throws big parties to get Daisy’s attention. As Daisy and Gatsby pick up their relationship, we are led down a twisted road that eventually shatters their American Dream.
As the trailer starts, characters flash before the camera as they all ask a key question to our story: Who is Jay Gatsby? Among those who want to know are Tobey Maguire, playing Nick Carraway (the book’s narrator); and Carey Mulligan as Gatsby’s star-crossed love interest Daisy Buchanan.
Brought to us by Baz Luhrmann, Australian film director and screenwriter. For those who don’t know, he also directed William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet; and my personal favorite, Moulin Rouge. Some scoffed at the choice, but upon the first five seconds of the trailer, we’re shown Luhrmann feels pretty in his element here, from the upscale parties with bejeweled flappers and men in tuxedoes to champagne toasts and confetti rain. Colors and bright lights explode, showering party-goers in riches and alcohol.
His stylish flair is evident from the first moment, throwing us into the Roaring ’20s with a voiceover from DiCaprio, who informs us of the setting (“New York, 1922”). Luhrmann seems pretty well-suited for his role as director. Big, beautiful party scenes from the trailer could easily fit into the Moulin Rouge sets. My belief is that because of these lavish, bright scenes, it will make the quiet, emotional scenes that much more powerful. The point of the huge parties and tons of people is actually to show how lonely Gatsby is; that despite his attempts to be one of the rich, he’s still only a man in love, trying to win Daisy back. It’s these scenes I’m looking forward to most; the shots of DiCaprio and Mulligan together look stunning. Luhrmann’s also made sure to show key landmarks, including Gatsby’s well-manicured lawn, a “valley of ashes” and the ophthalmologist’s billboard.
We also get glimpses of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan as the shady businessman Meyer Wolfsheim, Australian actor Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan (Daisy’s jealous husband) and Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker (Nick’s love interest). Personally, I think Debicki better bring it, as Jordan is a brash, loudmouthed broad who has no qualms stepping on men’s toes (on the tennis court or the bedroom) in this anti-feminism era.
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favorite actors. He picks his roles carefully, brushing aside characters outside of love triangles and predictable explosions, instead choosing meatier, thinking man roles. He’s no stranger to tricky lead roles. I was overjoyed when he was cast as Gatsby; in my opinion, he was clearly the best choice for playing an emotionally wrought, deep, well-known character.
I don’t know much about Carey Mulligan, though I’ve read mostly great things about her acting chops. I’m looking forward to seeing her play Daisy; she certainly looks the part, too. Her soft voice and big eyes only add to the Daisy effect we grow to love and hate in the book. She’ll certainly shine in her role and I think she and DiCaprio will really play well off one another in their reunion and love affair.
Tobey Maguire as narrator Nick Carraway is an interesting choice as well. Maguire, I believe, can play Nick because he has an innocence about him–at first. As the story continues and Nick learns these people’s secrets, however, Maguire will get to show off a range of emotions and I’m excited to see he and DiCaprio onscreen together.
I still have NO idea why they chose to shoot this movie in 3D. Except for the party scenes with flying confetti and champagne bubbles, what purpose does 3D have to add to this movie? It seems a bit silly to make a drama 3D and I doubt it brings in as much as the studio execs hope.
The part I’m concerned about, however, aren’t things that can be seen onscreen. They’re the emotions of the characters, the unraveling of their dreams, the beautiful analogies of life and love and loss in an ultimately tragic novel. Those things can’t be easily shown with pretty baubles onscreen so much as expressed through the actors. If I have faith in anyone doing this part right, though, it’s DiCaprio.
What did you all think of the trailer? The more I watch it, the more excited I get about it. From the setting to the characters, I’ve got my fingers crossed that Luhrmann’s hit all the right notes. Are you looking forward to DiCaprio and the rest of the cast in their roles? Feel free to comment on your excitement (or worry!) about this upcoming movie to be released at Christmas.
*Originally written for Word of the Nerd Online, a website for all things nerd, this piece was published on their website on 5/23/12.