Well, I put on my replica 1920s knickers à la Zelda and saw The Great Gatsby today (in 2D, of course). After I read that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s granddaughter and Charles Scribner’s great-grandson enjoyed and approved of the film, I decided I was just being too picky, and so I went to check it out for myself.I liked Charles Scribner III’s quote, “. . . it must be judged on its own plane as a distinct recreation in another medium, a parallel universe so to say.” And that is exactly what I decided to do. I decided to just push to the side my reservations about how it should have been made and see it for what it was—a new reimagining of a classic. If you look at The Great Gatsby as a story of obsession, excess, not knowing what you really want, and dangerous carelessness, then this movie really did do a great job of portraying that. Never mind the changes from the book or the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad soundtrack (nothing could possibly change my mind about that damn soundtrack—not even the argument that hip hop is the new jazz, which I totally agree with, and I loves me some hip hop, but it doesn’t belong in a movie set in the 1920s, neither do Florence and the Machine or Lana del Rey, etc.). I do realize what a hypocrite I must sound like since I freely admit to adoring Moulin Rouge and enjoying its soundtrack. While I do find that era fascinating and I have a great interest in Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, I totally wasn’t offended by the inclusion of Christina Aguilera, David Bowie, and Fatboy Slim songs in the soundtrack. However, F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author and the 1920s is my favorite decade, so I’m a little overly protective of them. Okay, rant over. Besides, there were a few snippets of real 20s music here and there (although they were later 20s music, not from 1922).
I will say this for the movie—the cast was simply amazing. Carey Mulligan was as beautiful, delicate, and flawed as you could possibly want in a Daisy and Leonardo di Caprio was probably my favorite Gatsby so far (and this is saying something coming from someone who used to despise him—all the way up until Inception). Elizabeth Debicki made a very pretty Jordan, although I wish her part had been bigger. Tobey Maguire was a great Nick—awkward in all the right places and a fine voice of reason. Joel Edgerton was an excellent Tom, very upper class and better-than-thou. I was really hoping to be impressed by Isla Fisher as Myrtle. And I was, certainly—I just wished there had been more of her. Of course, anything Jason Clarke does is fantastic. He really brought George’s grief and desperate revenge to life. The costumes, jewelry, sets, and cars were beyond brilliant. I hope when I die, there’s a part of Heaven that looks just like this movie.
Even with all that praise, I still maintain that the movie would have been eight million times better if a) they’d made Daisy a brunette and Jordan a blonde like they are in the book; b) they filled the film with era appropriate music (and yes, I admit this is coming from a person whose iPod contains over 350 songs from the 20s and 30s and clearly enjoys that kind of music) ; and c) 3D was not even an option (seriously, do you want to see Myrtle get viciously hit and mangled in 3D, you sick fuck?). I am vehemently, across-the-board anti-3D (except for Captain EO, which is excellent).
Alas, Baz Luhrmann didn’t consult me when making his film and so my vision and his vision had some distinct differences. I tried to look past those differences, but in the end, his film just left me feeling meh. I like films to transport me to another time and another place; I like to feel like I’m in the 1920s when I see a movie set in that time period. But this movie didn’t make feel like I was in the 20s; I felt like I was watching a very fake representation of the 20s. Which I so very obviously was—nothing about Baz Luhrmann’s movies are real, they are spectacles. But the spectacle he created in this movie in no way even compares to how I imagine the story when I read the book. My Great Gatsby is the cat’s fucking meow. ;)