Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby Or, Thoughts On Being Simultaneously Enchanted and Repelled

When I first heard there was a Gatsby film in the works, I was a little leery.

Every cinematic adaptation of this novel has fallen flat because the piece is essentially unfilmable. The story is pretty basic — boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy tries to get girl back, boy succeeds for a second and then, boy fails — and doesn’t really make for cinematic gold.

The Great Gatsby earns its modifier because of the lush and evocative language.

But his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.

The hell with a thousand words. I dare anyone to find a picture as gorgeous as the 111 words written above (without using a picture of Ron Livingston).

When I heard Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo DiCaprio were involved, my caution dissipated a little. And by that, I mean fifteen-year-old Jaime came leaping out and made this banshee-shrieking noise at a decibel level only registered by dogs and SPL meters.

A few days ago, I read that Luhrmann was blasting Jay Z on the set of his movie. Apparently, it won’t actually appear in the film (make for one hell of a deleted scene, though) but I’ve swung back around to the land of the leery again.

Hold up. Wait.

Do I love hip hop?
Does Eminem offend people?

I don’t consider myself a hip-hop head but I love the artform. I respect it, I’m an avid listener and I can rhyme the hell out of Jay’s Can I Get A…?

I get that the hustle and excesses of hip hop provide an apt and apropos parallel to Fitzgerald’s classic.

I understand that no-one on the corner has swagga’ like Jay — Z or Gatsby. Both Sean Carter and James Gatz sprang from platonic conceptions of themselves – vast, vulgar and meretriciously beautiful.

I realize that this is what Luhrmann does — he takes classic stories and jams a pop music adrenaline needle straight into their hearts, reanimating them with something wild and frenetic and beautiful.

But I really don’t want The Great Gatsby to turn into a high budget version of MTV’s dreadful “hip hopera” take on Carmen.

The Great Gatsby is my favorite piece of art in this world.

Of all things created – every blistering chord played by Stevie Ray, every lonely scene that Edward Hopper painted, every last one of Bukowski’s gin-soaked and salted wounds, every soliloquy breathed into creation by Sorkin and Shakespeare and every single J. Fox face Michael makes (you know what I’m talking about) — I love The Great Gatsby more than all of that.

And when you love something like that, you want to keep it trapped in its own little snowglobe. Perfect and safe from the smog and smudgy fingers of this world.

I’m trying to keep calm and have faith in Luhrmann, citing my love for his previous works as examples that his vision will turn out fine, but again – it’s not just any adaptation. It’s Gatsby.

So,I’m going to hold onto infinite hope and reserve judgment until Christmas Day when I might get the best gift a girl could get — a flawless cinematic representation of The Great Gatsby, complete with a sublime soundtrack…

…And if that doesn’t happen — dude, an espresso machine would be sweet.

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One thought on “Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby Or, Thoughts On Being Simultaneously Enchanted and Repelled

  1. Have you seen Midnight in Paris? F. Scott has a little cameo 🙂 I think you’d like it. I’m really excited about this movie, the pictures I’ve seen look beautiful. I love me some DiCaprio and if anyone can make it work, it’s him. I am not a huuuge fan of Carey Mulligan, but Daisy is kinda a flake… so maybe it’ll work. We shall see 🙂

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