The Unforgettable Great Gatsby

By Amanda H.

Staff Writer

Baz Luhrman’s depiction of The Great Gatsby has created praise from all around the world. The film follows a want-to-be writer, Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire), as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era filled with the loosening morals, jazz, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American dream, Nick lands next door to a party-giving, mysterious millionaire known as Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). Nick lives across the bay from his cousin Daisy (played by Carey Mulligan) and her womanizing, aerostatic husband, Tom Buchanan (played by Joel Edgerton). The drama begins when Nick is drawn into the fascinating world of the over-prosperous, their misapprehensions, and the loves and deceits of the infamous New York life style. Nick endures being a witness to all of the craziness around him as he is sucked in and out of the world he never imagined he would set foot in. Nick inscribes a tale of unmanageable love, honorable dreams and a heartbreaking tragedy as he paints a picture of the past and the struggles that comes with the roaring 20’s lifestyle.

The characters in The Great Gatsby range from amazing to stale, starting with Leonardo DiCaprio, who does a remarkable job as he portrays the mysterious millionaire socialite whose perspective on life is skewed by materialism. He switches from a spoiled frat boy to a romantic. Gatsby is always full of character, and Leonardo DiCaprio captures that drive so naturally. Likewise, Carey Mulligan adds wisdom to the colorful character of Daisy. Mulligan shines bright throughout the whole movie, especially when she lets Daisy’s tortGreat GatsbyAHured conscience attempt to break through her well-kept appearance. She and DiCaprio join together so well that views get lost in their star-crossed love affair. Moving onto the stale is Tobey Maguire, who is most famously known as for his role as Spiderman. This star provides a lackluster narration and recitation of all the events. While his reactions are better late than never, he is nowhere near convincing, which somewhat takes away from the beauty of the film.

Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby draws the viewers into what was designed in such a way that is beyond extravagant. The Great Gatsby is effortlessly easy to get lost in the overflow of details, not to mention the spectacle of visual effects, marvelous musical pieces, ornate camera work, astonishing sets and stunning period costumes (designed by Catherine Martin, Luhrmann’s wife). The costumes perfectly portray the characters’ twisted perceptions of the world around them and the fantasy they live in, along with the love and distraction of materialism that these characters are caught up in. These characters are all lost, and Luhrmann’s talent to depict all of the many components of Fitzgerald’s book is remarkable.

As incredible as the visuals are, the use of music alone is almost enough reason to step foot into the theaters to see Gatsby. The Jay-Z-produced soundtrack is a remarkable clash between contemporary hip hop and 1920’s jazz. Hearing Jay-Z, Florence and the Machine and Beyoncé intertwine in and out of the classical scenes draws viewers in even more; it helps us understand the chaos of these characters’ lives. Dodging the musical chaos is Craig Armstrong’s score, which provides an unseen level of gloom throughout the film. Luhrmann did an astonishing job when blending his visual and musical styles together to create something original. One of the most eye-catching scenes in this film is the first party scene where Carraway is gliding from party guest to party guest trying to decode all the gossip and rumors about Gatsby until he finally is introduced to him with the ear-provoking version of “Rhapsody in Blue” playing in the background.

Undoubtedly, people have their own preferences when viewing Luhrmann’s depiction of the movie, but the book is very similar to the variation of it. This film is very faithful to the book, even though Luhrmann’s visual and auditory choices are on the more unusual side of special effects. Most all of Fitzgerald’s original words and ideas find their way into this 2013 film version, sometimes even going as far as including large amounts of the original dialogue. Some say at times that the script is too faithful to the original text, meaning that little is left to the viewers’ imaginations, but most readers of the novel appreciate Luhrmann’s devotion to Fitzgerald’s words.

The Great Gatsby is pure perfection; no other movie goes so well with the original text then this one. It would be a crime to not go out and watch this timeless piece of art.

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