Extraordinary, Beautiful, Simple, and Intricately Patterned

I will either love Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby or I will hate it with a deep and burning murderous passion.

Just so we’re clear on the stakes, this is the Great American Novel we’re talking about.

By the way, I can be kind of an lit/English nerd.

Yesterday, the trailer debuted. There’s been snippets and mentions of this movie coming up every now and then, but I hadn’t given it much consideration since it’s yet another remake of a classic book that has already been made into a somewhat successful film. I’m not a huge Leo fan, and don’t follow Baz Luhrmann’s work with any particular attention. If there’s one thing this trailer did, it was pique my (and probably a lot of other people’s) interest. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a gander:

It’s hardly a surprise that Baz Luhrmann would use Kanye West/Jay-Z song for a movie about the 1920s, and although I’m initially extremely annoyed, since I enjoyed Moulin Rouge, I’m willing to have a little faith (though the point of the whole Great American Novel thing is that it captures the spirit of the nation at the time… then again, it’s the novel that’s Great and American, not necessarily the film). I’m not one of those people that wants film adaptations to match the source material page for page, and am a firm believer in the fact that trying to follow the plot and structure of a book precisely often leads to terrible movies. But what I do want from adaptations is the spirit of the book to remain intact.

In a letter to his editor, F. Scott Fitzgerald describes the kind of project he wanted to start working on next, which eventually became The Great Gatsby.

“I want to write something new – something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned.”

And that’s the beauty of that book. The way that it is at once simple and intricately patterned make it beautiful. I’m going to avoid the long diatribe I could launch into, about the materialism and decadence motifs, because no one wants to hear the essay that all high schoolers these days have to write. Suffice it to say, all the complexity of it is masked by the simple premise of a love story.

While Baz Luhrmann has proven he can do love stories, I’m not so sure he can do simple. As a matter of fact, Luhrmann is really all about the antithesis of simplicity, his movies are nothing if not spectacle. Still, we can’t just ignore the whole decadence motif, and it’s entirely possible that Luhrmann’s penchant for spectacle will marry nicely with the wild partying that’s all over that story.

So, like I said, I could end up cherishing Luhrmann and his team for bringing one of my favorite books to life. Or I could end up hating him for defiling one of the greats of the American canon.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: