5. Because it’s a Baz Luhrmann film. And Luhrmann doesn’t make films, he makes music videos. And they have a language all of their own.
With just three or four minutes to get your story across, you need to paint your characters in big bold primary colours and in oversized emotions. And everything has to be in short hand and reduced to its bare minimum, so that all of the story points can be understood, immediately. No shot ever lingers for more than a second and a half before it’s ruthless– and restlessly cut, and the next is busily inserted.
It’s breathless and, occasionally, exhilarating. But having to watch 90 minutes – or more– of all that is like being asked to read a novel in text speak. It gets wearying, very, very quickly.
4. Because, as the old Hollywood adage goes, the best books make the worst films and vice versa. And Gatsby, somewhat surprisingly, hasn’t aged a day. It’s majestic.
3. Because, and not withstanding the above, the 1974 version is actually pretty good. Penned by Francis Ford Coppola, it’s a tad reverential and tiptoes tentatively around its source. But what saves it is its casting. Robert Redford is perfect.
Everything that makes him so suspect as a performer renders him ideal for Fitzgerald’s nebulous, opaque anti-hero. And all of the conflicting emotions you experience when watching him are transferred on to the figure of Gatsby.
Redford is porn personified. You know that it’s all show, that there’s nothing there, there. Beneath the surface, or beyond that facade. That whenever anyone tries that hard to make it look natural, all you ever notice is all of that effort. And that there’s something faintly ridiculous about anyone that fixated with and happy about how they look.
And yet, you can’t take your eyes off of him. Which means, obviously, that you’re ever bit as shallow as he is.
Until eventually, in a vain effort to justify your attraction, you find yourself asking, what if? What if there’s nothing wrong with mere surface? What if that’s all there is?
All of which of course is exactly what the novel is about.
2. Because it’s in 3D. Which is so five minutes ago dot com.
1. One word; Australia.
One more reason? Very well, here’s the trailer.
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