Last Friday, Gatsby opened to mixed reviews, and I was there, 3-D glasses in hand, standing on an enormous line. It was a good thing that I had purchased my tickets in advance, because when I got to the movie theater, I saw that the show-time that I had selected was the only one that was sold out. Let me just say that I’ve never seen a movie on opening night before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it would be crowded, but I did not know that it would be insane. Yes, I knew there was Gatsby-fever (after all, I had it for the past three years), but it was unlike anything I’d seen before. The line went pretty quickly once it started moving, but it felt like a mad-dash to find a good seat; hoards of people clumped together and coats were strewn about, appearing out of nowhere as the temperature had been near eighty all day. Thankfully, they opened the balcony level, and I sprinted up the stairs to the perfect seats.
The previews felt like they would go on forever, but finally, the lights dimmed. I put on my 3-D glasses and settled in. Why Gatsby in 3-D, you ask? Because it was the only version playing at that theater. Two and a half hours later, I emerged into the night in desperate need of a drink; there was so much alcohol being passed around throughout the film that it made me want one. I ended up having a few martinis, then headed home to Billy, who had not accompanied me on my Gatsby adventure (girls’ night out!) but he will in a few weeks when I drag him to see it (yes I am going again). In the meantime, we’re both going to read Fitzgerald’s masterpiece…I have already finished it, so I will be passing it along to Billy this weekend.
Clearly, I loved the movie, otherwise I would not be planning to go again, nor would I be planning on purchasing it when it comes out. Going in, I was a little nervous for several reasons. One, of course being that, well, it was a Baz Luhrmann creation, and as you already know, he is pretty over-the-top in all of his films (think Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge, etc). I decided to do a little google-ing on him a while back and found out that before he started directing films, he did operas. I went to see Puccini’s Turandot at the Met once. It was around three and a half hours long, and I remember being fascinated with the costumes and stage designs, because they were so elaborate (explains Luhrmann’s penchant for the dramatics). I liked it a lot and resigned myself to go to more operas, but sadly, I have not been back since. Surprisingly, I didn’t really find the movie to be over the top, with the exception of a blow-up giraffe (did they have such a thing in the 20s?). There were scenes that were very extravagant – for example, Gatsby’s parties, Nick’s night in town with Tom (they call NYC going to town) – but there is extravagance in the book, it was the 1920s after all, the decade to indulge. Gatsby’s parties were lavish, end of discussion; he wanted to show off everything that he had worked for; it was all for Daisy. Of course, the parties stopped after she attended one and did not care for it. As for Nick’s night on the town with Tom, well, it wasn’t as extravagant as portrayed in the film version, but they did drink a lot.
Another reason why I was nervous going in, was because Jay-Z had done the soundtrack. The New York Times published an interview with Luhrmann the week before Gatsby was released, and in it he explains his decision for this, saying that hip-hop is to us what jazz was to the 20s. Luhrmann was trying to make it fit with todays’ world, and I understand that, but I know I’m not alone when I say that it was perhaps not the best choice on his part. Gatsby, by all intensive purposes, is a period film, but the soundtrack doesn’t quite fit; it’s too modern. I’m sure there could have been a way to appeal to this generation without it, after all, Gatsby is read is schools for the most part – so there’s an audience there – and for the people who haven’t read it, the movie was promoted an awful lot and DiCaprio has a huge fan base. I’m sure it still would still have been great even if the soundtrack was a little softer.
Speaking of Leonardo DiCaprio, he did a fabulous job as Gatsby, but I never had any doubt about it. He was able to bring a little life into the character that is Jay Gatsby, but also change with him as well. In the novel, Gatsby goes through a ton of emotions, and as he does this, his character kind of changes as well. We see Gatsby as: optimistic, timid, scared, happy, in-love, disappointed and broken hearted. All of that encompasses who Jay Gatsby is, and DiCaprio does a great job portraying it. Equally well, I though, was Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. I’m not familiar with Mulligan’s work, but I felt that her Daisy was perfect. She brought to life the carefree and often careless attitude that was the character of Daisy. She loved Gatsby, but she loved her life more. I adore Tobey as Nick, I feel like he was very good at telling the story, because, after all, that is what Nick does in the novel, he narrates. I loved the scenes with Gatsby and Nick, I feel like since DiCaprio and Tobey are such great friends in real life, they have amazing chemistry together and that shows up on the film. The scenes with Gatsby and Daisy were good also; you saw the love that they had for each other, but you also saw the distance that was between them.
All in all, Gatsby was amazing and a MUST SEE for everyone. I leave you with a quote from the novel.
“As I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long was to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald