The Great Gatztastrophe
Many people hold America's classic, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, very near and dear to their hearts, including myself. Whether you were forced to read it in English class or just picked it up in an old used book store, the story remains the same: a timeless tale of love on the 1920s-era East Coast. Such a classic tale then, seems like an obvious choice for a summer movie remake about the glory of partying, alcohol, fashion, and fun in the sun, and Baz Luhrmann, director of Moulin Rouge!, hoped to give the classic a new spin — a spin that left literary lovers and movie goers' heads doing just that. The idea of Baz having a hand in the movie at first seemed to make a lot of sense. His sensationalism in Moulin Rouge! seemed like it would have direct translations to the phenemenon of Gatsby. Moulin Rouge!'s fashion, music, and overall cinematic beauty could be easily manipulated and transformed from a brothel into a party mansion, a musical into a finely orchestrated movie soundtrack, and elaborate circus like spectacles into the party of the century. However, all of this was easier said than done.
Although the movie is extremely beautiful, with amazing shots of white curtains flowing etherially in the wind or giant crowd scenes with men and women dressed in the most fashionable styles of the day, Luhrmann's sensationalistic tendancies take an already heightened storyline to the extreme, causing it not to come off as lavish, but instead to be overwraught, overdone, and all in all a bit ridiculous. The classic storyline was overwhelmed by gimicks, slow motion shots were added in unnecessarily and the good ole Great Gatz we knew and loved was swallowed whole by Baz's unconventional style.
The soundtrack of the film is almost like another character in and of itself, comprised of all-star musicians like Jay Z, Beyonce, Lana Del Ray, The XX, Florence and the Machine and more. It's quite beautiful, and Baz does do a great job at combining modern day and classic influences to create a modernized jazz age. However, when placed within the context of the movie, the overarching rap and hip-hop themes stick out more than intended, and draw the movie goer out of the allusion of the times and back to modern day.
Though it is an undeniable fact that Baz Luhrmann has immense talent as a director and has big ideas when it comes to soundtrack and scenery, his talents are better put to use on works with roots that aren't founded in America's classic novels.