The Great Gatsby; a classic with a twist

Sophia Kim, Staff Writer

In the latest adaptation of the iconic novel The Great Gatsby, director Baz Luhrmann added his signature modern twist, rubbing some Fitzgerald fans the wrong way.

Luhrmann received praise for his modern remake of Romeo + Juliet in 1996, another collaboration between him and Leonardo DiCaprio.  Audacious camera tricks may have worked for his Shakespeare adaptation, but hip-hop and CGI just didn’t cut it for Gatsby.

Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” opens the film, throwing off any semblance to a Jazz Age movie.  The rest of the soundtrack didn’t evoke a Jazz Age feeling either, but some songs perfectly captured the mood of particular scenes.  The mash-up of “A Little Party Killed Nobody” (Fergie, Q-Tip & GoonRock) and “Bang Bang” ( playing throughout the party scene at the Gatsby mansion effectively reinforced the extravagant delirium as seen on the screen.  Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” and Florence + The Machine’s “Over the Love (Of You)” truly bring out the rosy, yet melancholic romance between Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) and Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan).  But some fans criticized the whole soundtrack as too modern and too hip-hop.

The driving scenes, which accounted for at least a good third of the movie, quickly became tedious.  Every time Gatsby drove, the camera tricks made the whole scene seem made-up and futuristic, almost resembling the pod racers in Star Wars.

There were just too many modern elements to instill a true Jazz Age ambience without it feeling awkward or artificial.  But the movie itself was a whole lot of fun and romantic to the point where you actually catch yourself swooning at everything Gatsby does in attempt to capture Daisy.  The film and the script also stay very true to the novel.  Luhrmann clearly attempted to recreate each scene, especially the setting, as described in the book; the materialism and drunkenness Fitzgerald criticized, the rippling white curtains at the Buchanan mansion; the bright green light; Dr. Eckleburg’s large, blue eyes; the lavish, out-of-control parties.

Luhrmann’s only true flaw in his flashy, colorful interpretation is his failure to capture the true essence of Gatsby’s obsession over Daisy.  In the novel, Fitzgerald shows how Gatsby is in love with the Daisy from the past and that their romance is dormant.  DiCaprio’s portrayal didn’t accurately convey that Gatsby was essentially in love with the idea of Daisy, but just that he was in love with Daisy.

Luhrmann’s interpretation of The Great Gatsby certainly was not a failure, but staying true to the details in the novel clashed with his modern twist.  If you ignore your own conception of what the ‘20s were supposed to be and just enjoy the film, you definitely will not be disappointed by Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of The Great Gatsby.