I will not dare talk about the book or the story. Analyzing a literally classic of this magnitude should be done another time, another place, by whoever dares to search for the faults within.
I will not try and talk about the excellent casting and the flawless actor performances. I will not even touch upon Leonardo DiCaprio, though I could not think of anyone more suitable – he is Gatsby, with a performance worthy of this enigmatic and classic character, and possibly even a few awards…But I will not talk about this either.
I will not talk about the screenplay and character choices and directions the team behind the movie decided to take, though I fear they are a cause for criticism. For example, a deeper exploration of character motivations, as well as character development, is possibly needed in the cases of Gatsby and Daisy.
I will certainly evade the argument that the new vs old method is by now an obvious cliché, by simply stating that … well, people are living in obvious clichés. Times change, yet times are repeated as people’s aspirations and nature remains the same.
What I will try and explain is why even a week after I have seen the movie I am still living in its world.
The movie grabbed me from the start. With the visual shift of retro movie logo to the golden frames of the modern, I knew this will be a journey to the past through a modernized visual roller coaster, and I liked it! What a better way to tell a vibrant, provoking classical story than through a subtle modern lens? And then again, who says people back then weren’t as crazy as we are now and didn’t experience life the way we do now? Where the movie truly got me, though, was the first moment you see Gatsby’s face… not only because of DiCaprio’s perfect impersonation, colorful setting, or the plot escalation of the moment, but simply because he appeared accompanied by the sounds of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – an inspiring classic and by far one of my favorites. And this is the one thing I will talk about.
This movie is an explosion of aesthetics and culture.
I don’t care if they failed in character development, if they failed retelling the story to everyone’s expectations, I don’t care. What I do care about is how beautiful of a movie this is from purely an artistic point of view. How exquisite the soundtrack is, the costumes, the setting. From famous photographs and paintings of the era brought to life, through modern songs represented in only but a note mixed with original designs and fine arts decisions, the movie requires more than one look to truly be able to see all the details and nuances. It’s a painting. Carefully selected, diligently drawn. And presented masterfully – the filming is just magnificent, the cinematic techniques manage to reach the strong visual impressions of the book as retold in Carraway’s vivid memories.
Fitzerald’s visual effects, such as the lighting of Gatsby’s parties or his striking descriptions of clothing and postures, as well as the use of the scenic method, and transitions between one scene and another, gives parts of the book The Great Gatsby a unique cinematic feel. There is also Fitzgerald’s technique of the cut which he uses to make sudden transitions from one scene to another, additionally to his notorious respect and handling of lighting effects throughout the novel. All of these are carefully respected in the movie resulting in the altered perception and cinematographic “magic” it throws at its audience.
So, all in all, this fifth, most extravagant and modern adaptation of the book I believe catches the spirit of the age and story in a most artistic and exquisite way. Bottom line, go see it, old sports! And if you disagree AFTER WATCHING it, do tell me more.
Movie score: 9.5
I’m off rereading the book.. and perhaps re-watching the Robert Redford one.