Sunday, May 12, 2013

Momento Mori: The Great Gatsby (2013)

Title: The Great Gatsby

Language: English

Year: 2013
Director: Baz Luhrmann
My Rating: 5/5

"The Great Gatsby" follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan(Joel Edgerton). It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without of the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles."

Done in Luhrmann's iconic theatricality, the Great Gatsby is one gem/explosion/firework/insert noun describes something spectacular of a film. From beginning to end, the film is loaded with drama, symbolism, extreme attention to details, and the pursuit of perfection.
Set in 1922, as the plot summary says, "an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks," every scene is done with glimmer to the max. The extravagant party scenes, Gatsby's mansion, the trips to New York City, everything is purposefully over-the-top, overwhelming the audience with as much amazement as disgust towards their lavish ways of life.

Two personal highlights: 
- the cinematography
Okay, I gotta admit, this is a bit way too broad, but the cinematography is so excellently unconventional or unconventionally excellent (you could say both, really) I have to mention it. The angle from which the camera films is at times deliberately unusual, and fantastically genius. One example is when Carraway is invited over to the Bucchanan's for dinner. The dinner is mostly shot from overhead, the camera gliding over the table over and over as the dinner carries on. Bits of conversation (mostly gossip) "floats" in the background, giving the audience just enough information to keep up with the story without wasting time on unnecessary minutia. 

- symbolism of the green light
I loved this theme when I read the book two years ago (which I believe I should certainly revisit over this summer). The green light, anchored right at the front of the Bucchanan household, is the source of Gatsby's endless hope and motivation. When he stares at the green light night after night, he sees not the light but Daisy, the potential of their past and future. He sees hope--but unattainable hope. Once he and Daisy spark up the old flames, the hope is, in essence, lost. Once the hope is gone, there is nothing to keep Gatsby going, and greed makes him yearn for ever more. At the end of the movie, Carraway stares at the green light, still blinking unchanged, through the bay fog, despite Gatsby's death; he sees what Gatsby must have seen in that thin beam of light, and realizes how much has been forever lost.

A few beautiful GIFs to end this post!

Vanessa :]

1 comment:

  1. I just came back from seeing this and I totally agree with your review! In the beginning I kept thinking that the scenery looked so fake. That they could have made it all a bit more life-like. But then it hit me. That was the point. We're seeing the fantastical life of Jay Gatsby from the perspective of Nick Carraway. And Carraway's view of New York City (in the beginning) and Gatsby to be specific is all sparkles and awe. But by the end of the movie, they've taken the filter off the lens and we see the city and all the people for what they really are. Gatsby is a man who seemed to be perfect and mysterious. He had more money than he could ever ask for. He was happy. But we see at the end of the movie that he only wanted the money because he wanted Daisy. It was all for her. We see Nick, who loves everything about New York. Everything here is like a fairytale for him. But by the end, it disgusts him. We also see the Buchanans for what they really are. Uncaring people who can't see past the glamour of the city. In the end, this movie (and book more importantly) is about seeing things for what they really are and understanding that yourself.