Friday, May 10, 2013

A "Gatsby" worthy of greatness

"Can't repeat the past? Why, of course you can. Of course you can."

In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway wanders into his neighbor's opulent mansion to find a veritable orgy of color and sensation: bursts of champagne, streamers of all colors, gowns and suits crammed into every inch of space. The camera stages it perfectly--compositions arrange these figures with stunning symmetry, careening and swooping around the space to capture fleeting moments of dance, drink, and other assorted pleasures. Fueling it all is the music: a foxtrot mixed with a Beyonce song? A Top 40-esque club beat?

Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Great American Novel" has drawn immense criticisms that he's trying to talk down to "tween" audiences by needlessly having producer Jay-Z bring in a whole bunch of rap and pop music for this Gatsby. Sure, that's one way to look at it. But that's also incredibly dismissive. What's going on here is, I think, much deeper and more interesting, regardless of whether or not it appeals to you.