Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adaptation Corner: Trailer Edition! Or, I Can't Fight the Snark

I haven't been posting much.  I owe you all another life update as well as several reviews and whatnot.  You're probably sitting at your computer think, "What's this? Liz posted?  And it's about a movie trailer!  She never posts about those!"

Or not.  Maybe your just sitting there thinking, "Ew, another post on The Great Gatsby trailer.  Next please!"  I wondered if you guys had seen several analyses of it already, but couldn't resist the urge to share my thoughts.


Oh my gosh! It's Jack...uh, I mean, Leonardo DiCaprio! 

Some of you may be familiar with a film called Titanic that came out in 1997 wherein a large boat sinks and two characters named Jack and Rose fall in love.  Oh, you haven't spent the past fifteen years under a rock?  Good!  So you're probably a.) aware that this is the highest grossing movie of all time and b.) not surprised to hear that Titanic was something of a milestone in my childhood.  That's right, folks, when I was in fourth or fifth grade, Titanic was my first ever PG-13 movie, and my first real experience seeing Leonardo DiCaprio in any kind of movie.  Yes, I even had a crush on him, and while Celine Dion writes that, "Love can touch us one time / And last for a lifetime," I quickly moved into Backstreet Boys.  Or was it NYSNC?  Now I can't look at him without seeing Jack Dawson and although I don't think he's a bad actor, I have hard time taking him seriously at the time.

Leo/Jack aside, I like the New York skyline we see at the very beginning of the trailer.  I think the costumes at least make a pretty good stab at accuracy.  The flashbacks to the war looked reasonably authentic.  And even though we only got a brief glimpse of the T.J. Eckelburg billboard, I really liked that.  Otherwise?  I have a feeling this one is going to flop.

To me, this movie lacks the 1920s atmosphere I expect from an adaptation of a Fitzgerald novel. No, I was not alive in the 1920s (please see above where I mention my school aged years and Titanic), but this is never what I imagined when I read The Great Gatsby. Who picked this music?  I sort of like the song at the end, but to me, nothing about it says 1920s. It says, "Well, the hipsters liked this book. I know, let's let them pick the music!"

The interior of the house?  The party scenes?  They're not doing a whole lot for me either.  The interior of the house just doesn't look right to me.  And the party scene?  It feels like they filmed it with Lady Gaga in mind and then remembered it was supposed to look like the 1920s.

I also wasn't wowed by Carey Mulligan (a.k.a. Kitty Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, which I didn't know until just now).  Something was just missing from her performance.  However, viewers only get a bit of her here, so if she measures up as she has in the past, she'll do just fine.

The real reason I think this movie will flop among English majors such as myself is that The Great Gatsby is a brilliantly written book.  Anything else I tell you about Fitzgerald's prose will simply sound trite.  Truly amazing writing creates an atmosphere that you can you taste and emotions that make your chest ache.  You can give actors famous quotes from books, but that doesn't mean that you'll get the same emotional resonance as the prose.  Even if the most famous lines are dialogue, they not only have to be well-acted, but also be ensconced in the perfect atmosphere--lighting, music, scenery, everything.  Sure, your adaptation could be accused of being Bronte-esque like Joe Wright's 2005 Pride and Prejudice was, but that scene made me (and many other viewers) cry, just like the book did. It wasn't the precisely the same, but the emotion was there.

I don't think The Great Gatsby has it.  I believe it will lack the atmosphere to convey the true evocation and despair of Fitzgerald's novel.  Regardless, my curiosity is piqued, and everyone plus their mothers will be seeing it.  I may be the one walking out with my face in the hands while whoever is with me at the time tries to shut me up.  Perhaps I'll be proven wrong, but we must wait until Christmas to find out.

2 comments:

  1. I must admit that I am not stoked about this film, aside from it being Baz Luhrmann, whose films I usually like. But that being said, it kinda (ok, a lot) looks like his ROMEO & JULIET.

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  2. Your review of this trailer made me laugh! Don't hold back now, tell us what you really feel! I will say, I'm already seeing holds for this book increase at my library.

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