The irresistible imagination of the Great Gatsby

Reviewed: The roaring 20s is given a 21st century modern twist
Leonardo Di Caprio stars in The Great Gatsby.
By Salma Awwad
Sun 19 May 2013 11:46 AM

Taking place in the heart pounding existence of the roaring 20s, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel comes to life with Baz Luhrmann’s reinterpretation of the world of The Great Gatsby.

From the moment that the Australian director announced his intention to shoot the classic in 3-D, the production has generated as much curious gossip as Gatsby himself, with expectations riding high as the movie’s premiere approached.

The film’s international premiere took place on May 15 at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, and hit theatres here in Dubai a day later.

With mixed reviews amongst critics and audience alike, Luhrmann received his greatest appraisal from Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, Bobbie Lanahan, who currently owns the rights to the story. However, he was under no illusion that his unique style and portrayal of the novel would be appreciated by all.

He took a great risk as he accepted the challenge of directing this theatrical rendition of the classic tale. The Great Gatsby has already been filmed five times, and even throughout his own production, Luhrmann wondered on many occasions if reports the story was unfilmable would prove accurate.

The end result was spectacular, as the lavish, party-swinging universe was brought to the big screen through the recreation of the 40-acre estate and marble swimming pool of Gatsby’s Long Island party palace, on five different sound stages and various locations around Sydney.

The well balanced cast combined celebrity appeal and endearing acting craft in the form of Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Toby Maguire, Joel Edgerton and Isla fisher. Together, the team brought the dangerous, and often frustrating, relationship between Gatsby and Daisy to life for a whole new generation.

For the role of Gatsby himself, Luhrmann knew that he wanted to reunite with his Romeo + Juliet star. For the part of Daisy; however, every A-list actress in Hollywood was auditioned.

“Because of Leonardo, Daisy became a hugely desired role,” says the director who reportedly saw Scarlet Johansson, Michelle Williams, Blake Lively, Keira Knightly and Natalie Portman.

Luhrmann’s wife and costume designer, Catherine Martin, who won as Oscar for her work on Moulin Rouge, collaborated with Prada as well as Tiffany and Co. to create more than 40 looks for the movie.

“The jewellery symbolises the story’s themes of wealth and privilege, and we approached its design with the utmost style and luxury in mind,” said Jon King, executive vice president of Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany’s dazzling creations illuminate the characters’ rarefied world of New York penthouses and Long Island estates. Ms. Mulligan’s Tiffany wardrobe includes tassel necklaces and jewels with lustrous conch pearls.

At evening soirées her blond bob is circled with the Savoy, a headdress of diamonds and cultured pearls, and her gestures are accented by a hand ornament in a daisy motif.

Although the movie was visually breathtaking in every still shot, one could argue that it came at the expense of losing the deeply touching essence of the original piece.

One thing was indisputable; however, the soundtrack had a strong presence throughout the movie and highlighted its quintessentially modern setting. Produced by Jay-Z, which was seen as a controversial choice by many, it featured a mash up from Florence + the Machine, Lana Del Rey, and the XX.

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Last Updated: Thu 26 Jan 2017 01:27 PM GST

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