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‘The Great Gatsby’ Sparkles, Amazes, and Inspires

Over the past 88 years since the novel was first published in 1925, The Great Gatsby has become an icon in American literature. Now the part love story, part American tragedy has been adopted by director Baz Luhrmann, who is best known for Moulin Rouge! (2001) and his rather modern rendition of Romeo + Juliet (1996). Luhrmann’s “vision” for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third novel is apparent immediately as the film opens; he pays close attention to both macro (various wide-scale shots of a brightly lit and bustling New York City) and micro (snow that resembles bits of glass, curtains that resemble ghosts) details of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece and makes it his own. And when a wide-eyed Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire) wanders into Gatsby’s mansion for the first time, surrounded by a sea of flappers and suits, the viewers are just as spellbound by Luhrmann’s massively colorful, wild, and liquor-filled presentation.
While these are the very details that many critics have deemed “unnecessary” or “flashy,” any Lit major would argue that these were the very details Fitzgerald wanted to convey to his readers when he wrote the book all those years ago. Jay Gatsby’s “green light,” which doubles as a symbol of the American dream and of his love interest, Daisy Buchanan (played by the charming Carey Mulligan), also makes numerous appearances in Luhrmann’s film, reminding the viewers of Gatsby’s far-reaching obsession.
Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the film is the modern soundtrack, featuring chart-topping artists like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Florence Welch, Lana Del Rey, Jack White, Will.i.am, Fergie, and Emeli Sandé. Luhrmann is famous for putting a modern spin on his films, and while some may argue that flappers dancing to Jay-Z’s song “100$ Bill” is a bit jarring, others find this modern accompaniment exciting, fresh, and new—three terms that define the 1920’s quite well.
As for me, I’m just elated to see Leonardo DiCapro embody Jay Gatsby like no actor ever has before.
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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