When people hear The Great Gatsby, thoughts initially jump to the flannel suits, flapper dresses, tuxedos and feather-clad headbands that adorned roaring 20s. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece that is critically acknowledged as ‘the great American novel’ is the description of the fierce human drama that surrounds the parties and lifestyle of the flamboyantly wealthy yet mysterious Gatsby. The book has been dramatised many times, most notably in Jack Clayton and Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 version starring Robert Redford as Gatsby, but now a new era has dawned and Baz Luhrmann has taken the helm.
If one word could describe Luhrmann’s films it would be ‘unpredictable’. Over the years he has crafted a style that makes his movies visually arresting and constantly engaging. Moulin Rouge, the hit musical of the Parisian brothel that provides the background for a classic love story, was taken by Luhrmann and turned into a box office smash with racy outfits, fast cinematography, bright bohemian art design and an award-winning soundtrack to top it all off. The same was true of his contemporary take on Shakespeare with Romeo+Juliet (1998), starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio when he was still bright eyed, boyish and fresh off the Titanic. Luhrmann enigmatically stamped his own particular trademark on the Bard’s cultural triumph by introducing helicopters, convertible low-riders, giant silver revolvers and even Radiohead to the city of Verona.
Indeed, the one thing that Luhrmann can be depended on to deliver is unexpectedness, and it seems that from the early released pictures and the trailer, Gatsby will be no exception. Replete with the fast-paced vivid imagery that he has become relied upon to provide in lavish amounts, it is also known that Gatsby‘s soundtrack will be as just as unexpected,as it is said to contain LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem and tracks from Jay Z and Kanye West’s The Throne. As for the cast, Luhrmann veteran and Hollywood giant DiCaprio is stepping into the wingtip brogues of Gatsby, Toby Maguire is taking on protagonist Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan will play Gatsby’s love interest Daisy Maguire. With Isla fisher and Joel Edgerton providing supporting roles there can be no fault found in the foundations of Baz’s cast. As for the visuals and music all indicators are pointing towards another bigger, better Luhrmannian fiesta.
However, be in no doubt; Luhrmann will not be taking this task lightly. He is well aware of the love and regard that exists for the novel and of the fear that the Fitzgerald’s beautifully crafted narrative will be lost amongst the 3D party poppers and lashings of Moët. The Great Gatsby, in simple terms, is the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the American dream. Fitzgerald himself once described the 1920s as an “orgy of money and booze”, and from what we have seen so far this seems to be the root focus of the film. Either way, the world expects big things from Baz Luhrmann in 2013; he’s proven he can re-invent classics set in Paris and Verona, how will he fair in F. Scott’s New York?