After numerous adaptations of this classic novel for the big screen, the time has come for one that I’m dying to watch to be made. In other words, Baz Luhrmann has chosen to adapt F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work as his next project. In fact, the cast has been picked, filming has begun, the release date has been set and the format? They say it’s 3D. Are you getting excited? If I forget the 3D business, I am too!
Early reports had all the hottest A-list actresses competing for the role of Daisy, such as Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams and Rebecca Hall. Finally, Carey Mulligan got the part and she sounds as an interesting, quite fitting choice. Gatsby is portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, who last collaborated with the director twelve years ago in Romeo+Juliet, a film which established him as a teen idol and contributed to his status as Hollywood royalty. Pal Tobey Maguire will take on the part of Nick Carraway, the narrator in the book, while Isla Fisher and Australian actor Joel Edgerton also star. The most famous screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby is the 1974 one, with a script by Francis Ford Coppola directed by Jack Clayton, while Gatsby and Daisy were portrayed by Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. It’s a sure thing that Luhrmann will somehow update the novel but my personal opinion is that he will keep the essence of the original work intact, as he tends to do.
The novel seems to be a nice fit to Luhrmann’s tastes. He’s adapted classic work of literature before, with controversial reactions following it. However, while Romeo+Juliet was set in contemporary times, this time, judging by the costumes in the stills circulated, he’s staying faithful to the era the novel was set at. Still, that doesn’t mean that this is going to be a straight-forward adaptation. This is Luhrmann we’re talking about and, if we know him one bit, the king of postmodern will strike again. Or, at least, we hope he will. Even Australia, his less eccentric film yet, had quite a few touches of postmodern madness, even if it wasn’t characterized by the extravaganza of Moulin Rouge!. Furthermore, The Great Gatsby leaves plenty of room for Luhrmann to indulge in lavish, razzle-dazzle costumes and make-up, since it’s set in the roaring twenties and Gatsby is known to throw some pretty elaborate and luxurious parties. All in all, the perfect material for another feast of the eyes, and the ears –I’m guessing– for all those who enjoy the revamping of fashion trends and musical styles past that the wardrobe and film score usually receive in Luhrmann’s versions of the costume drama.
More importantly, the single most significant element that seems to draw Luhrmann to the stories he films is one. Drama, drama, drama. And more often than not, the drama is caused by an impossible romance. It seems that a tragic love story not only gets audiences going but the man himself as well. After all, reworking the most famous tragic love story of all time for his second project says something. And if he didn’t get to do Titanic, he got to rework La Traviata and the myth of Oprheus and Eyridice in Moulin Rouge. Australia, again, revolves around an epic but tormented romance which, for a change, turns out alright. Still, what both Lady Sarah and Drover go through in order to finally find peace is as dramatic as it gets. So, the great pining of great Gatsby over Daisy is the next twist on the ever lasting tale of the impossibility of romance.
Filming has started in Sydney, Australia and shut down for Christmas one day early after Luhrmann hit his head on a camera crane. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious because he needs to get back on it in order to finish it in time for its release date in the US: Christmas Day 2012!