What is it about The Great Gatsby that gets us so worked up? Is it that Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation is sure to be an over-the-top, surreal and dramatic revision of both the book and the film? Perhaps it’s the drama of the Roaring ‘20s, a crime-filled, party time sandwiched between American disasters (WWI, The Depression and WWII). Could it be that behind all the scholarship, literary criticism and psychobiographical work, there still seems to be a sense of mystery in the novel that draws a hopeful audience? Is it plain and simple suspension of the disbelief? Whatever it is, there is something magnetic about Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan and even Nick Carraway.
Obviously, the hype is hot right now because the movie comes out today. But even between periods of Hollywood release, it seems that people are drawn to Jay Gatsby, just as Fitzgerald’s party-going characters in the book are: we can’t figure out if we love him or envy him, we can’t figure out who he really even is. The opposite is true for Daisy whose exterior of boredom, naiveté and beauty must be taken at face value. And how are we to judge or our reliable narrator, Nick Carraway who must solve the puzzle of so many unreliable people including Gatsby, Daisy, Meyer Wolfsheim and Tom Buchanan? Perhaps each character is one manifestation of the American Dream, which is the basis for this fantastical story. Social mobility, money and luxury seem to be what Gatsby and his wealthy friends envision, but is that the reason we are so drawn to this tale? It is imaginably Gatsby’s unyielding hope that represents both the American Dream and our fascination with this tragic story. Surely in the film, it will be the dramatic irony that creates added tension as well as added excitement.
Baz Luhrmann’s vision is also sure to be the film event of the year. After pushing the release date from Christmas 2012 to Summer 2013, the studio ensured a year of publicity in which Gatsby has permeated our every day. From fashion to events to our choice in literature we have been on full alert Gatsby: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was released in late March, Carey Mulligan (the actress who plays Daisy) is on the cover of Vogue this month in full Gatsby attire (including bejeweled headpiece), Oxford Exchange’s January Supper Club and Book Club theme was based on the Roaring ‘20s where we read Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned. The world of fashion is currently obsessed with Miuccia Prada who co-designed the film’s costumes with Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin. Not to mention that the soundtrack features some of the moment’s hottest artists including Jay-Z, his wife Beyonce, Florence + the Machine, and Lana Del Rey. Additionally, Art Deco motifs have been reignited in the design world with angular fonts, interesting notebooks and even interior designers making use of this revitalized phenomenon.
Whatever form you experience The Great Gatsby, it is sure to have the style and mystery first put forth in Fitzgerald’s iconic work.