Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing Baz Luhrmann’s new film, ‘The Great Gatsby’. I had high hopes for the film, it being set in one of my favourite time periods, based on my favourite novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald with the score created by one of my favourite artists, Jay-Z. That’s a lot of favourites. However, just before I left for the cinema, I came across negative reviews which criticised the film for being too gaudy and excessive. However, being set in the 1920s (before the Wall Street Crash), isn’t excess a given?Overindulgence is a feature of the 1920s, a key element that cannot be overlooked. America was thriving in an economic boom, flourishing due to its incredible prosperity, the prohibition of alcohol had failed – it was a recipe for a hedonistic lifestyle. Personally, I felt that Luhrmann captured this perfectly.
As an avid fan of this time period, I was sceptical as to whether the film would give me the same desire to travel back to 1920s America that the book did. It did. The sheer extravagance of the film astounded me – I found myself wishing I had the opportunity to attend one of Gatsby’s parties, with cocktails and performers and jazz and an incredible number of streamers. The enjoyment was tangible, the party atmosphere based on a care-free attitude, punctuated with desire and a sense of liberty. The party-goers were everything I wish I could be – wild, untroubled, uninhibited, not bound down by expectation but rather carried by an invisible wave of enjoyment that cannot be quashed. They seemed to be untouched by worry, by fear, by apprehension.
Every aspect of the film, in my opinion, was perfect. The fashion and style was exactly the right mix of classy (in some cases) and daring, and the music a perfect blend of jazz and hip-hop. This was risky on the part of Jay-Z, as he veered away from a traditional jazz-based soundtrack. I can see, therefore, how this would have alienated certain viewers, but for me it elevated the film onto a whole new level. The addition of Jay-Z’s own work, with it’s pounding baselines and sharp lyrics simply increased my longing to be immersed in the world of Gatsby.
I was dubious about seeing the film in 3D. Normally, I find the swooping invasiveness of the third dimension unnecessary and not at all enjoyable. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Gatsby. I have heard many say that there was too much emphasis on 3D in this film, that there was too much going on, but I felt that the 3D aspect perfectly enhanced the idea of excess, of flamboyance and of ostentation. It seemed as though if I just reached out a little further I would accidentally slip into the 1920s.
Having already read the book, I knew the plot before I saw the film. However, I still found myself feeling the same suspense, longing, amusement, sadness, regret and hope of those who had never before immersed themselves in Gatsby’s world. I suppose I thought that perhaps if I concentrated hard enough I could force events to change, I could alter the turns of the novel and prevent heartbreak (both mine and the characters’).
In total, as you can tell, I was not disappointed by The Great Gatsby, despite my unreasonably high expectations. I still find myself watching the trailer, listening to the soundtrack, reminiscing about my favourite scenes, watching interviews and trying to rekindle those dreams of optimism and prosperity…
1. 100$ Bill – JAY Z
3. Bang Bang – will.i.am
4. A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) – Fergie + Q Tip + GoonRock
5. Young And Beautiful – Lana Del Rey
6. Love Is The Drug – Bryan Ferry with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra
7. Over The Love – Florence + The Machine
8. Where The Wind Blows – Coco O. of Quadron
9. Crazy in Love – Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra
10. Together – The xx
11. Hearts A Mess – Gotye
12. Love Is Blindness – Jack White
13. Into the Past – Nero
14. Kill and Run – Sia