One of my favorite books is The Great Gatsby. Our freshman year of high school, my friend Danielle and I stayed home one Friday night, just to finish the book together. When she read the last page, we looked at each other as if we had been had. “That’s it!?” We exclaimed. “What a horrible ending!” Danielle then threw the book and we put our pajamas on, feeling we had wasted the evening.
Slowly, as we discussed the book that evening and in class the following Monday, we started to realize that kind of reaction was exactly the emotion we should have had from that ending. That was the point. The more we discussed, the more I was captivated. I think what added to the interest of the book was the detailed and elaborate art deco parties that Gatsby had in addition to the lean yet compelling story.
Of course, every great book seems to turn into a movie. They have tried with The Great Gatsby numerous times (five that I know of, including a made-for-TV movie) with lackluster results.
Then, I heard a new big-budget version was in the works with Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy. I started getting excited.
It was short-lived. I heard they were filming the movie and several months later the trailer came out. The director of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge also directed this movie. The movie trailer had the same over-the-top animated feel as the other movies Baz Luhrmann directed. Unfortunately, I feel like that takes away from what is captivating about the story. It isn’t about being over romanticized or unrealistic. For me, the story showed realistic interpretations of the time, and the parties they attended pushed the limits of what was possible for the time, but always in a way that was on the line of being believable for the roaring 20’s. (I don’t know if anyone saw the Count of Monte Cristo, but the scene where he revealed himself as the count of Monte Cristo with a lavish party was more along the lines of what I was thinking.)
I was still holding out hope that I may have just been stuck with my own vision of the book and I would appreciate the direction of the movie, but then rotten tomatoes came out with a review.
42%, an F.
When I read the critics reviews, it confirmed my fears about the movie.
“Frenzied and overwrought, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is a glitz-filled folly.” – Claudia Puig, USA Today
There were critics who liked it, not because of the integrity of the original story, but because of the theatrical beauty of Baz Lurhmann’s movies (which are beautiful).
“The result is less a conventional movie adaptation than a splashy, trashy opera, a wayward, lavishly theatrical celebration of the emotional and material extravagance that Fitzgerald surveyed with fascinated ambivalence.” – A.O. Scott
After knowing all of this, I’m still going to see the movie. I’ve succumb to the idea that the movie version of the book needs to stay separate in my mind from the original literature. I’m going to pay an obscene amount of money at iPic for a lazy boy seat, get a cocktail, snuggle into my chenille blanket, and have a great time with Brian. If the movie is good in its own right, that will just be the icing on the cake.
What about you? Are you excited for The Great Gatsby, or are you going to pass on this movie?