As expected, “The Great Gatsby” based off F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1920s novel was colorful, flashy and exciting. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, the director of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, “The Great Gatsby” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan. The characters were well-suited for their roles.
Through the use of modern music, fashionable takes on timely garments, and talented acting, Luhrmann produced an, although nontraditional, avant-garde adaption of the classic novel, “The Great Gatsby.”
The movie takes place in Long Island, New York, the home of the curious Jay Gatsby. Nick has just moved in next door, and is intrigued by his neighbor, who hosts frequent, carnival-esque parties.
If the glam and glitter of the roaring 20s was not adequate, Leonardo Dicaprio’s suit-clad body was more than enough. Dicaprio’s sleek features and allusive behavior truly brings Fitzgerald’s mysterious Mr. Gatsby to life.
As Nick becomes acquainted with Gatsby, he discovers that Gatsby is consumed by his lifelong love for Daisy, Nick’s cousin, who lives close by with her husband. Although Carey Mulligan’s childish appearance does not fit with many viewers’ perception of the character, her savvy acting perfectly expressed Daisy’s infatuating behavior.
The story of Gatsby is told by Nick, who is shown describing the story of Gatsby to his psychiatrist. This storyline is not present in the book, but it, and the few quotes from Fitzgerald’s series of published essays, adds a more personal, autobiographical aspect, as Fitzgerald suffered from insomnia, alcoholism and depression, the same as Nick suffered in the film. The film uses direct quotes from the book and follows the book very closely which, although convenient, does not leave much for the reader to interpret.
The costumes, designed by Miuccia Prada, a high-end, Italian brand best known for practical, luxurious garments with sleek, edgy contrasts, could not have been more fitting. Using Prada and Miu Miu archives from the actual 1920s, Luhrmann’s wife, Caroline Martin, an Australian costume designer, and Prada worked together to modify a selection of classic Prada designs to accurately fit the extravagant time era.
It is needless to say that they were more than successful. The costuming was so strategically done that it would be shocking not to see Martin and Prada nominated for an Oscar in Best Costume Design. Tom’s mistress was tackily clad in slutty clothes, while Daisy dressed head to toe in white and glittering jewels, accurately portraying Fitzgerald’s intent.
The soundtrack consisted of many contemporary artists like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, Jack White, will.i.am, Florence + The Machine, and The XX, among others. Although Luhrmann’s decision to use modern music is controversial, it draws parallels between the careless living of the 1920s and today that ties in with his progressive take on the book.
The characters were very attractive and the film entertaining. The mise en scene was indeed a very liberal take, but it does not distract from the essential nature of Fitzgerald’s book. Gatsby’s love, torment, and obsession for Daisy is still intense and present, as is the enchantment of the 20’s. However, if one is looking for a serious interpretation of Fitzgerald’s book, this is movie not for them.