The Great Gatsby


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A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor.

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Director: Baz Luhrmann

Writer[s]: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgarton

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is one of the most famous novels ever written. I don’t think there is a school in the country that doesn’t have it’s students read it at one point or another. Written almost 100 years ago, times have clearly changed, and we have what would be unimaginable technology at our fingertips, especially to create films. As everyone on the planet assumed, people decided to take a classic novel and give it the most modern twist possible. And so it was, we have Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

It has been a long while since I have read the novel, so I won’t attempt any ignorant comparisons between these two pieces.

The film is one meant for 3D consumption. It has many scenes specifically created to show off what we can do in movies now with these incredible cameras. Much of the film is created with green screen technologies, and is a marvel of visual effects.

The biggest problem with 3D movies is that probably 90% of viewing screens in the world are not 3D capable. I watch plenty of 3D movies on regular screens, and it’s usually not a problem, depending on the scope of the 3D. Some movies use it only to add a finishing, enhancing touch on top of a film. Others, like The Great Gatsby and films like Spy Kids 3D, use it as a plot point, as a character, its own entity. Sure, this is some cheap fun in a big theater, but when you take it home, you are given tons of footage that looks downright terrible without 3D capabilities.

The sets and sounds remind me of those found on Moulin Rouge!, another one of Luhrmann’s films. I loved Moulin Rouge!, still do in fact, but that was a musical and an original story. This is anything but an original story. And I have to be honest:

I absolutely hate this attempted combination of a classic novel and modern production.

Like Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby is a fast-paced, party based film with loads of clashing sounds and images. This time, we find ourselves on a whole new level of loud and bright, and it’s not good. I had to crank down the volume and squint my eyes, like I was looking into the sun. The production is violent, clashing, invasive, and annoying. 30 minutes into watching it I found myself trying to make an excuse to abandon the film and give up on a review. “Sometimes films start off poorly but get better in the later acts”, I reminded myself. As it turns out, this was not the case. The film does settle down a little in the second half, but is still subject to drastically over saturated sights and sounds.

I know that some people may find some entertainment value in this film. There is something about time-pieces between 1900 and 1950 America that I have a special interest in, and this production just felt insulting to me. It feels like the only viewer in it’s scope are 11 year old girls who haven’t read the book.

This is what Luhrmann is known for. Classic material given a weird, modern twist. This one was just too weird, and overly modern.

My Rating

1/4 – While I have to give some credit to the visual effects producers, I otherwise felt insulted, overwhelmed, and annoyed with the clashing sounds and images, like Moulin Rouge! on speed.

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