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
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!