Baz Luhrmann's long-awaited The Great Gatsby has film critics split but so long as you don't expect to see the book come to life, you're in for a treat says Wael Khairy...
Baz Luhrmann has a tendency to modernise classical stories to make them appealing to the current generation. His adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, set in modern day LA was quite controversial for the liberties it took, but it also made youngsters talk about the work of William Shakespeare and that’s something to behold.
Nevertheless, when it comes down to it, the film was absolutely horrendous. If you’re going to make Romeo & Juliet set in modern times, then don’t make them speak Shakespearean English. In fact, the unedited dialogue was downright absurd. At several points, the characters asked one another to “draw thy sword” before raising guns. I’m sure Luhrmann did this intentionally, but to be frank, it was silly. How could characters that talk so eloquently be so stupid?
On the contrary, this mixture of the old and new worked marvelously in his remake of Moulin Rouge. Characters living in the year 1899 covered songs by Nirvana, Madonna and Fatboy Slim, but the truth is, when you enter a fantastical world where people sing their words, it’s somewhat acceptable. After all, it was a musical and anything could happen in that genre.
The Great Gatsby is a fun film with visuals to dazzle all eyes. However, it does come short of greatness due to Luhrmann’s knack for infecting classic literature with avant-gardism. It’s just plain odd to see a bunch of flappers driving by street in the 1920’s dancing to Jay-Z. The music isn’t there as a backdrop, the characters are actually listening to this music, it’s coming from within the scene. Now, I won’t deny that it looked absolutely badass on screen, but it also backfires on the film in that…well… how the fuck are you going to take the film seriously after seeing that?
You can’t and I didn’t and maybe that’s why, surprise, surprise, I enjoyed it. If you walk into this film expecting to see the depth of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel translated on screen, you’re bound to be disappointed. The Great Gatsby is fabulous and visually enchanting. Luhrmann substitutes literary depth with grandiose visuals and if you accept that before walking in, I guarantee you, you’ll enjoy his latest film.
Indeed, The Great Gatsby is a classic case of style over substance, but when the style is so eccentric, it becomes tolerable. The use of 3D is absolutely phenomenal in The Great Gatsby and the imagery is worth multiple viewings alone. However, in terms of plot, the film starts off great with a mysterious wealthy Gatsby throwing huge parties to avoid feeling lonely. The more we learn about him, the less interesting it gets and that’s due to bad pacing. Don’t let that hold you off though; you’ll have plenty of visual extravaganzas to keep your pupils dilated like a double dropping pill popper.