New film: “The Great Gatsby”
WHEN a trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” was released last year, aficionados of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece wasted no time in complaining about how fast, flashy and altogether Baz-Luhrmann-ish it was. Such sceptics won’t be placated by the film itself. As we might have expected from the director of “Strictly Ballroom” and “Moulin Rouge”, his “Gatsby” is a garish sensory assault with more juddering hip-hop than jazz and more CGI than real scenery. The camera whooshes around as if it is jet-propelled, and the whirling, bacchanalian parties would put the Rio Carnival to shame. The piano played by Klipspringer in the novel has been transformed into a colossal gilded pipe organ—an emblem of a film in which every last element is amplified to fantastic heights.
What we might not have expected, however, is that even while “The Great Gatsby” resembles an unholy 3D hybrid of a rap video and a perfume advertisement, its fundamental weakness is not that it treats the novel with too little reverence, but with too much. Mr Luhrmann views Fitzgerald’s slender fable as the grandest and most operatic of tragedies, and he’s determined that we view it that way, too.