Prior to my viewing of The Great Gatsby, I’d heard lots of negative buzz about the film. As I’ve been anxiously awaiting its release since it was originally slated at Christmas, I was naturally disappointed to hear bad things. But after seeing the film, I have to wonder- what did the critics who panned this film expect?!
Had they ever seen a Baz Luhrmann film before? This is a director with a straightforward and consistent style, a very specific view on life and love, and a borderline predictable narrative preference. He will highlight the milieu of a film and treat it as its own character. It will be about a tragic romance. It will be bright and rich and happen in a decadent era, and it will feature music incongruous to the era in question.
Knowing these things about the director, I think Great Gatsby was a perfect project for him, and he did exactly what I expected and hoped he would do with this material.
He kept the novel’s narrative almost entirely in tact. The script was pulled directly from the book, and every major memorable line was spouted in all its reverential glory. Luhrmann loved Fitzgerald’s book. That shouldn’t be a question on anyone’s mind.
However, the one complaint I could understand is the extremely melodramatic interpretation he gave the story. To me, the book was more observant and remained detached enough to avoid being judgmental (as Carraway explain right away- he is not the judging type). But the book was Fitzgerald writing for Carraway about Gatsby, and the movie turned Carraway into the author. I suppose this explains why he seems more passionately and emotionally invested in every scene, and why every scene takes on a more active and bustling feel than I saw it in my mind while reading. Does all that make sense? I’m going to hop away from literary analysis now.
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