The news of the last big role to fill in Baz Lurhmann’s “The Great Gatsby” has been announced. The pivotal character of Tom Buchanan will be played by Joel Edgerton, known for his work on the last couple of installments of the “Star Wars” trilogy. At first, the idea of yet another movie version of “The Great Gatsby” with an all-star cast, and in 3D, sounds like a terrible joke. But this project has all of Tinseltown talking, especially Lurhmann’s home of Sydney, Australia, where the movie will be shot. And, if you know Lurhmann’s work, then this “Gatsby” makes perfect sense.
The naysayers either want to be unreasonable haters or just don’t get it. They will, undobtedly, have major problems with the 1974 classic “Gatsby” starring Robert Redford as the most misunderstood of tycoons. I do like how Roger Ebert articulates his case against the movie. His review concludes that the Redford movie is too focused on visuals and light on making us feel for the characters. Well, it’s possible that the director, Jack Clayton, missed the mark but I really doubt it. He was known for bringing literary works to film. I remember his “Gatsby” doing everything a good film adaptation should do. Redford played Gatsby as an enigma and that’s what Gatsby is. And, for crying out loud, the screenplay was by Francis Ford Coppola. Mr. Ebert, God love him, is too much the curmudgeon. It comes as no surpise that Luhrmann’s audacious “Romeo + Juliet” offends him. Luhrmann takes things much further with the visuals and the flash than your typical purist can tolerate. But that is the fun and the magic behind what Luhrmann calls his “red curtain” style where he takes a familiar story and places it in a hightened sense of reality much like a Bollywood movie.
I am definitely looking forward to this one. The all star cast promises to make this a big deal. Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby is an excellent choice. Same with Tobey Maguire as his confidant, Nick Carraway. And it will be a treat to see Carey Mulligan as Daisy. I think she was utterly spectacular in “An Education.” She will undoubtedly fill Daisy with a special sense of vulnerability. This will be an eye candy spectacle. And, in its own loopy way, it will likely do a fine job of honoring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 masterpiece. The more I think about it, the more I’m ready to speculate on what Luhrmann will do next. The Bible? It worked for Cecil B. Demille. I think the beauty of taking on “Gatsby” is that it is such an accessible book, and should be familiar to many who did their homework or, believe it or not, actually read it just for pleasure.
Lastly, I’m still not quite sure how 3D is going to enhance the experience of seeing Luhrmann’s “Gatsby.” I do see how his “Moulin Rouge” might be enjoyed in 3D. In general, I am not a huge fan of 3D. I saw “Thor” in 3D and only found a few instances where it really added anything more than if I’d seen a regular version. Considering how low-key the story of “Gatsby” is, it will be interesting, maybe unintentionally amusing, to see “Gatsby” in 3D. But I wish Luhrmann the best with this. It really should be something to see.