The Great Gatsby was magical, marvelous, and manic.
Baz Luhrmann is synonymous with all of these words. His films are beautiful, artistic, and far from traditional. You simply cannot enter into his world expecting a conventional take on an ageless story.
Luhrmann transformed Fitzgerald’s fantastical world of the 20s into something electric and mesmerizing. Critics may be ripping apart the liberties the risky director took with the classic work, but nothing about the production was done flippantly and without thought. Every decision, every oneliner, every song was chosen with precise research and absolute care.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was nothing if not a leader. He was new and modern as was his work. Luhrmann’s understanding of this is what made the movie great. Any director could’ve pumped this story full of hip-hop music and other ostentatious choices, any other director could’ve been safe, but only someone as creative and dedicated to the core of the tale could pull off something as groundbreaking and crazy as what Luhrmann did with The Great Gatsby.
I saw the film on Thursday, the day it was released in New York. I got all gussied up and I sat in the theater, with my equally nerdy friends, staring in awe at the screen for two hours and twenty minutes. I watched Gatsby’s sanity unravel, I saw Nick Caraway observe this life he didn’t live, I saw Daisy toy with hearts, and I cried. I cried at the beauty. I cried for the love and the loss. I cried.
As I was leaving I heard the people behind me complaining. They didn’t appreciate Luhrmann’s take on a book that defined an era. They said Luhrmann “wasn’t a very good director” and “didn’t do the story justice” and I just sat there thinking are these people out of their minds? I just viewed one of the most cinematically beautiful films in the last 15 years and these people didn’t like it?
But that is a lesson I have had to learn. The lesson that madness and genius go hand in hand and not everyone is going to appreciate it. The Great Gatsby is going to go down in history, if only in my book, next to Titanic and Avatar as one of the most cinematically and emotionally astounding films in the last two decades.
Written By Sydney Weinshel