The Great Gatsby (2013)

The Great Gatsby (2013)
  • Time: 143 min
  • Genre: Drama | Romance
  • Director: Baz Luhrmann
  • Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton

An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby’s nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.


  • Let me start by saying the costumes and sets are stunning, really well done! The movie itself, mhm, I didn’t like it! “The Great Gatsby”, what is so great about it? The first hour is very long and doesn’t develop much, favoring the visual aspect and stylistic effects. The movie becomes a little more interesting when problems arise but it remains really laborious until a final outcome that doesn’t trigger any reaction. There is absolutely nothing in this movie that is interesting, so you are hoping that some twist or anything else will happen, but nothing happens. And the music, the story is in 1920s’ and in the background is Jay-Z and some commercial music of today… Really strange! Some of my friends liked it, no idea why, but maybe there is an audience for such movie, I’m not just part of it. I guess this is the worst movie of Leonardo DiCaprio…

  • I saw The Great Gatsby on the weekend, and I’m quite excited about it. I was glad to hear the director say that living to repeat the past is quite impossible, but I have to admit that Fitzgerald’s suggestion is quite fascinating, even if it seems wrong-headed. Since time points forward for us except when indexing thoughts and media, we never look into the past, even relativity doesn’t permit that in any direct sense. The past is read-only. Our minds can survey the times that already happened, and we commonly assume that it is unhealthy to dwell in the past excessively.

    That’s what the novel is about, at least. It is a fascinating attempt by a character to live out his own religion not so much in a quest for spirituality, but in a quest for something he feels a need for in his life. Since life is very much about needs, this opens the question of in what contexts it becomes important or relevant to recreate the past.

    One recreates the past whenever one tries to preserve love. Love only happens in an instant, and the spectacle of couples trying to preserve their custom of alliance with each other is clearly one in which reproduction of the past plays a big part. That is “Great” Gatsby’s great insight: That the moment of memorializing love, in essence attempting to make it eternal, is the reproduction of, and return to the past through repetition.

  • The Great Gatsby is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name. Rarely is a movie better that the novel it’s based on, and in Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby, that’s not the case. Luhrmann is an interesting director: he likes to set his movies in the 20th – early 21st century and use contemporary music as a soundtrack. While this has worked really nice in Moulin Rouge!, Gatsby is simply not that kind of movie. I should mention that it’s also out in 3D and that amazes me, because why would anybody watch a drama in 3D? Especially since another of the director’s trademarks is fast-paced editing – and when I say fast, I mean so fast that you might feel sick from time to time; even while watching the normal version. This also contributes to the style-over-substance feeling this movie gives, especially in its first half.

    Set in the Roaring Twenties, the story follows Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) who has just moved into a small house in West Egg, a village in Long Island. His neighbor is Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a rich young man nobody seems to know well – people just attend the magnificent parties he holds in his mansion every weekend, and speculate about his (and his wealth’s) origins. One day, Nick gets invited to the party where he manages to meet Gatsby and finds out he’s in love with Nick’s unhappily married cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). As Nick helps the two of them meet, he starts discovering more about Gatsby’s life and soon becomes his only friend.

    First of all, I didn’t like the fact that the movie starts the way it does – with Nick being in a sanatorium, because of problems with alcohol and depression, telling the story to his doctor and then typing it down. Yes, the book was written in the first person, but the screenwriters could’ve picked a better way to tell the story, or could have just changed the first person detail, since they had no problem completely leaving out of the script Nick’s relationship with Jordan Baker. It bothers me because all this makes Nick look like a mere Watson to Sherlock Holmes. And in the book that’s not the case: Nick’s life doesn’t revolve all around Gatsby, he has his own story, his own problems and romantic interests. Furthermore, the point isn’t that Gatsby is amazing and that Nick’s problems are all somehow caused by him. In the novel, Nick gets to know the New York society and is eventually disgusted by it, and that’s what the point of the story is. I get the impression the writers saw the novel’s title and didn’t even bother to check who the real protagonist is. Because even though, in the movie, Nick tells the story and is always present, it’s all about Gatsby, and in my opinion the two should’ve shared the main role.

    As I said before, Luhrmann likes to have a modern soundtrack to movies set in the past. This can turn out well sometimes, but for Fitzgerald jazz music was an important background for the novel, and since the 1920s are also known as the Jazz Age, it would’ve been nice to hear mostly authentic music, of that period. Now, some songs in the soundtrack are of that period (like Louis Armstrong’s St Louis Blues, 1914), others are modern but fit the movie really well (like Lana del Rey’s Young and Beautiful, and Florence + The Machine’s Over the Love) – and then there’s techno, dubstep and Jay Z. Seriously? I don’t even know what to say. Those last mentioned songs are simply horrible, ruin the movie, and manage to declare the whole soundtrack as one of the worst ever. The fact that the movie’s too long doesn’t annoy me that much but only because I think the second half is much better than the first, as it’s more dramatic, plot-centered, keeps you focused on the story and it’s easier to connect with the characters. Which brings us to the actors, one of the good aspects of the movie: mostly big names, they did a fine job, even though DiCaprio stole the show – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would have been nicer to see Maguire given enough screen time to develop his character out of Gatsby’s shadow, as I’ve already said.

    I also liked the mise-en-scène very much: the dresses and haircuts of the flappers, the big houses in which people lived and attended parties, the parties themselves, the big luxury cars, even the New York industrial zone – everything was magnificent and seemed truly authentic. Another nice detail is the use of stunning deep focus throughout the movie. And, of course, in spite of the aforementioned plot problems, I love the story, which I think is what made me enjoy the movie as much as I did. If you don’t mind what I’ve pointed out as flaws, go see this movie; if you do mind, I’d suggest you see it anyway, if nothing else for the visuals and the beautiful storytelling.

    Rating: 7/10

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  • Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.

    A long time ago every Saturday afternoon you could see an old movie on Flemish television. John Wayne , Danny Kaye, Charlie Chaplin, Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Clint Eastwood etc. were seen weekly in a black and white or in those faded 60’s Technicolor color movie. Regularly they played the old dance movies and musicals with well-known stars such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth , Gene Kelly, Samy Davis Jr. . and many others . All situated in the 20’s with men in tuxedos and women who float around in expensive evening gowns and overloaded with glitzy jewelry. A paragon of wealth and decadence which was reserved for some at that time. So I saw a lot of them passing by on the screen while dancing the Foxtrot. My hate and disgust for anything that smells like musical , is grown in that period. I skip each musical or dance film purely for the fact that they always start to sing or spontaneously start dancing for every trivial fact. Pancakes are made and you can expect there is a serenade on this baking process. Or there is some ordinary shopping done in a local supermarket , and before you know it, everyone dances a waltz in between the vegetables. Pfffft , nothing for me .

    “The Great Gatsby” itself is not exactly a true musical or dance film, but the decadent parties that Gatsby is organizing are dangerously close to it. I expected every moment an alignment of women dressed in swimsuits, extremely precise in a row, making a jump in sequential order and with deadly precision into Gatsby’s enormous garden fountain. And yet I didn’t like the choice of music. It didn’t really fit the whole of this movie. The beginning of the song by Jay Z (I thought it was him) mixed with images of New York and the display of wealth that some people possess , I found successful. But the music does not fit with the swirling parties afterwards . In some way it clashed with the picture what you got in mind. And personally I thought that the interpretation of “Back and Black” was a blatant violation of the sublime song of Amy Whinehouse despite that Beyonce has a beautiful voice.

    I haven’t seen any previous films directed by Baz Luhrmann. I only know Moulin Rouge and i obviously haven’t seen that for the well-known reasons that I already described above. It took some effort to get used to that airborne camera images in the beginning, but on the whole, his approach is sometimes grotesque. It looked all magical and fairy-like. Several times it had such an effect that was used in ancient times to emphasize a love scene or some magical moments. Those hazy and shimmering shadows around certain images. It reminded me sometimes of the first “Wizard of Oz” movie. The imposing and monstrous looking mansion of Gatsby looked like it was in a direct competition with the castle you can admire in Disneyland. So exaggerated. So it all looks decent and is terribly perfectly portrayed. The glamour of those days splashes of the screen, but at the same time, it all looks so fake . The computer animation department clearly had to do an extra effort. In terms of costumes for the characters, this film is matchless. Ditto for the props that can be admired throughout the film. From the Oldsmobiles that drive around until the furniture. In one word: masterful .

    Tobey Maguire I think is the biggest flaw in this movie. The fact that he’s a person who has to get over his alcohol problem and tells his story about Gatsby to a psychiatrist or physician, and at the same time has the appearance of a pubescent student, makes the whole rendition of Carraway totally unbelievable. By the way, I still think that his acting ability is limited to the sometimes silly staring into nothing, with such a moronic smile on his face . DiCaprio also looks too young for his portrayal as Gatsby . In fact you may well expect that he would have a face that shows how difficult his live has been. But I think Leo does an excellent performance as the mysterious and extravagant billionaire . Maybe a bit too melodramatic . And the phrase “Old sport” does not fit completely with him. Besides it really started to get on my nerves after a while hearing him saying that over and over again. A disadvantage is that it takes a while before he comes into the picture and then Maguire needs to carry the complete movie. And that failed miserably . For me, Joel Edgerton , who played Tom Buchanan, was the best actor in this film . The bravado and arrogance that he displayed was beautiful to watch.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read Fitzgerald’s book. The content is actually a plain simple love story . The run-up to the meeting with Gatsby, I liked the most in this movie when Maguire moves into the small house overshadowed by the immense castle of the mysterious Gatsby. Once this is over , it’s really only a dull and ordinary love story and Maguire is relegated to a pathetic spectator of the flirting between Gatsby and Dais.

    Actually I expected more from “The Great Gatsby”. It’s is a damn long, boring and sad movie. I had problems keeping my eyes open. Nothing much happens in it. And if you’re planning to have a fun time watching a happy movie, you better look further.

  • With the recent release of the third Gatsby trailer, the anticipation for director Baz Luhrmann’s recreation of the F.Scott Fitzgerald classic is mounting. The trailer gives a more in-depth look at the characters, the lavish landscapes and further reveals that Leonardo DiCaprio may hold a candle next to original Gatsby, Robert Redford.

    While I’ve previously cursed the idea of remaking classics, Baz’s recognizable modernized eye for style along with his clever incorporation of contemporary music seems to transform the 1920s on screen with Gatsby. If his pop culturized version is anything like 1996’s Romeo and Juliet, we can be guaranteed the movie will maintain the authenticity of the story we all know and love.

    Luhrmann’s previous work, Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge, both share a commonality with Gatsby–the music. You won’t find a score parallel to the era Luhrmann is speaking from; Gatsby and Jay Z are held together side by side, and Luhrmann’s unique modern troupe combine the diversity of a modern beat juxtaposed with the extravagance of the 1920s will likely fit knowing Luhrmann’s past films.

    Most greatly anticipating:

    – The lavish Gatsby lifestyle will surpass it’s predecessor visually from it’s costumes to set locations.
    – Mia Farrow’s version of Daisy was manic and obnoxious, so I’m curious to see if Carey Mulligan is the right fit to play such a coveted role. I know this is probably an unpopular opinion!
    – Leonardo Dicaprio as the literary famous Jay Gatsby fits like a glove in my opinion. The only other actor that remotely comes to mind for such a large-scale role would be Brad Pitt–but Brad Pitt circa the 1990s…not Brad Pitt circa today. Leo has one of the most incredibly diverse and exceptional acting resumes to date. This may be his year with Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street.
    – The supporting cast, outside of Tobey Maguire, look like they’ll be a sucker punch of a cast–particularly Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchanan) and Isla Fisher (Myrtle Wilson). We all know Myrtle’s fate, and the trailer makes it look like one hell of a ride!

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