Revisiting The Great Gatsby

When the first trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby came out in 2012, I was so excited. As a big fan of Fitzgerald’s novel and Luhrmann’s previous work (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!), this take of the novel couldn’t come any sooner. From the incredible soundtrack to the limited edition Tiffany jewelry collection, everything about this film had my attention.

But I decided that before I watched the movie, I would reread the novel for good measure. So last week (and 2 years later), I got around to rereading the book, and finally watched the film! Strange kind of promise to make to yourself, but nonetheless, it was a promise kept!

The first thing to note is: this movie has style. The film’s aesthetics are simply stunning, with each scene filled to the brim with colour and vivaciousness. That’s the Luhrmann trademark. Catherine Martin, the set and costume designer as well as Luhrmann’s wife, did such a phenomenal job in creating an authentic, vibrant 1920s New York, and that in and of itself is worth the watch.

Also, as I mentioned previously, the music in this film is spot on. This soundtrack boosts the movie experience and heightens its emotional hold on you, the viewer – which is what a soundtrack should do, in my opinion. One of my favourite songs is Jack White’s cover of “Love Is Blindness” that was played in several of the film’s trailers.

The movie itself stays true to the novel for the most part, and at certain points, created real affect in me. But I was a little disappointed because it lacked the heart-wrenching grip that the novel had in the narrative’s most important moments. Myrtle’s death in the film just doesn’t hit as hard as it does in the novel, where you have to go back and reread what just happened to make sense of what you’ve just read.

That said, the roles were cast terrifically, and they were very well acted. Leo makes Gatsby more real than he was in the novel, and Carey makes Daisy so much more complex and a tad more likeable. Also, that voice! It’s perfect!

Finally, Luhrmann did a great job of giving life to Gatsby’s “enchanted objects,” particularly the green light and TJ Eckleberg’s looming eyes. These symbols were so key in the novel that it was really nice to see them well-represented in the film.

Did you watch or read The Great Gatsby? What were your thoughts? I’d love to know!

Also, let me know if you like to see more movie and novel discussions!

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