I’ll admit I was sure I wouldn’t like it going in.
I love the book, loved the 1974 film version, and was quite sure any re-do would be a disaster.
Of course, my hopes of actually liking it were increased with all the bad reviews out there. Usually when the critics trash it, I love it!
No accounting for taste I suppose.
The New York Times said it was “…less a conventional movie adaptation than a splashy, trashy opera, a wayward lavishly theatrical rendition of the emotional and material extravagance that Fitzgerald surveyed with fascinated ambivalence.”
I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now. I’m talking about the NEW Great Gatsby film from Baz Luhrmann.
Well, I didn’t hate it.
I really thought I would.
You see, I’m a bit of a purist. I am still ticked off that they left two of Scarlett’s children out of GWTW, and I’ve never forgiven Clint Eastwood for his Cliff Notes version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Read the book, stick with the plan, the original is better than the interpretation.
Having said that. It wasn’t awful. It was splashy, it was trashy, and it was theatrical. But then, it was a movie.
And I really love that book.
I loved the Robert Redford – Mia Farrow version back in the 1970s.
Back in my days at Brookwood, we’d read the book, watch the movie, and I’d spend a good while explaining to the kids just how important Bob and Mia were. Of course to them, they were just a couple of faded stars no one cared about any longer, and telling them that Mia Farrow was at one time bigger than Angelina Jolie just did not compute.
But, she was, she was huge.
She was the first person ever to appear on People Magazine.
And she appeared as Daisy Buchanan.
The 1974 version was a big budget, big star, big hype movie event.
It was big.
It was awesome, it was a real movie.
Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, James Caan, Karen Black, and Sam Waterson filled out the roles to perfection.
I was quite sure going in, it would pale in comparison.
I was pleasantly surprised. Oh, sure, Leo slept-walked through the part, making Gatsby even odder than I could ever have imagined.
Carey Mulligan portrayed a damaged, spoiled, shallow Daisy, and the poor soul playing Myrtle…well, apparently the assistant director was doing all that work. And we’re just not going to talk about the Jordan Baker character.
But, it wasn’t a total failure. Joel Edgerton out Tom Buchananed James Caan, and I never thought that would happen.
And Toby McGuire morphed from Spider Man to Nick Carraway at warp speed, providing an Oscar worthy performance. Really, he saved the movie. He was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
The sets, the costumes, the cars: terrific.
Staying true to the book: Not bad.
The music: F.
If you’re a Fitzgerald purist, you might be let down. Oh, the green light is there, the ‘rich girls don’t marry poor boys’ line is there, Gatsby’s mystery is there, Nick’s frail mental state – even more defined. And Daisy is a shallow as ever. But, the things most Gatsby fans hold so dearly just don’t come through.
That’s me, I keep comparing it to what I know, what I love, what should be.
I had to keep telling myself, “this is just someone else’s viewpoint…” But, I kept finding things that drove me crazy.
I know, short drive.
As I left the theater I walked across the mall to the video store to pick UP the 1974 version. The lovely young thing behind the counter said, “Did you see the new one?” Of course I replied that I had, only to have her say, “I want to read the book before I see the movie.”
I don’t recommend that. See the movie first. You’ll love the movie. And why spend all that money just to be disappointed?
But, by all means, eventually, some day, some time, read the book!
Still a great story, the movie is worth seeing. The mystery of Gatsby can’t be destroyed by an over zealous movie maker who continually goes over the top….and back.