Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby; A Film in Review
The 4th remake of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann hit theatres in 2013. The film accurately followed the classic storyline and directly quoted the novel to help bring the characters to life. However, Luhrmann’s interpretation of this American classic only scored a measly 48 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes.
Personally, I strongly disagree with this score. The film itself was bold, attention grabbing and lavish. Celebrities responded positively to the film across social media.
I saw the Great Gatsby tonight & loved it! Who else saw it?
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 11, 2013
Set in the 1920’s, Luhrmann ensured everything from their obscene mansions to their impractical dress sense made these characters far from relatable in any era. Not only are these characters hard to connect with in a material sense, but they are also fundamentally flawed and this was Luhrmann’s biggest challenge. However, on the big screen, I believe he made the characters entertaining and interesting to watch.
Jay Gatsby (played by Leonard DiCaprio), is described as a wealthy ‘new money’ type of man. His character comes from an impoverished background and develops extensive lies to reinvent himself. Everything Gatsby has achieved up to this point in his life was done for the sole purpose of winning the girl of his dreams, Daisy Buchanan (played by Carey Mulligan). He became wealthy in order to emulate the type of man a woman of her status would be expected to marry.
Gatsby throws elaborate parties in the hope that Daisy will attend, even buying the house directly across the lake from her own in the hope that she will visit him. Gatsby’s character is heavily dependent on Daisy and his existence revolves around her. Despite all this, DiCaprio plays the character with charisma and charm, and the set of Gatsby’s parties is an engaging display of opulence and wealth.
Video of one of Gatsby’s Parties from The Great Gatsby (2013) via @thegreatgatsbyny
The character of Daisy Buchanan has no morals and she displays this several times throughout the film. She cheats on her husband and is behind the wheel in a hit and run. After all this, she flees town and lets Gatsby take the fall for her crimes. Carey Mulligan played the whimsical, but manipulative Daisy well, taking the audience on a journey where they are often going back and forth with their like and dislike for her character.
Having read the novel after watching Luhrmann’s adaptation, the questionable character portrayal seems to be in keeping with Fitzgerald’s original story. The two main characters of The Great Gatsby are unrealistically flawed and as a result, the actors had to work harder to capture the audience’s attention. Both DiCaprio and Mulligan managed to breathe new life into these characters and the result is enchanting, leaving the audience heartbroken and thinking about the characters long after they have left the screen.
If you love anything to do with the Roaring Twenties, romantic dramas and Leonardo DiCaprio, then this is the film for you.