The Great Gatsby, 2013 Film Critique
This past spring, Hollywood released the quite controversial adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel, The Great Gatsby. The film is directed by Baz Luhrman, known for his extravagant, visual style, with none other than legendary Leonardo DiCaprio as title character, Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as narrator Nick Carraway, and Carey Mulligan is cast as Daisy Buchanan. Set during the summer of 1922 on Long Island, New York, Nick gets caught up in the world of millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby, who throws fabulous parties each weekend to capture the attention of his first love, the old-moneyed, married Daisy, who happens to be Nick’s cousin. Throughout the story, the characters are faced with discovery, betrayal, and tragedy, in both the novel and film. Of course, Luhrman’s adaptation is just that, and because the novel is so widely thought of as un-adaptable, the director has undergone heavy criticism. Amidst the film, certain techniques Luhrman adopts, as well as aspects he omits from the plotline, either develop or diminish viewers’ understanding of Fitzgerald’s work, or affect the story as a whole. Throughout the film, Baz Luhrman utilizes many techniques to enhance, or in some cases detract from, the viewers’ understanding of the novel, most noted the contemporary soundtrack, over-the-top sets and costumes, and unorthodox adaptation of Nick as a narrator. Countless critics have questioned Luhrman’s choice of soundtrack and producer, Jay-Z, which was highly distanced from the jazz that springs into anyone’s mind at the sound of the words “the roaring twenties.” Instead, the film is teeming with pop music, from party anthems by Fergie and Kanye West, to Lana del Rey’s melancholy “Young and Beautiful.” Although it seems a bit off-putting with the era, Luhrman justifies his decision by explaining how he wanted to make spectators feel similar to how Nick and other characters felt when hurled into the world of Gatsby,...
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