Why did Gatsby sink?

ImagePhoto: Irish Times

When you look back on Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby you wonder why it seems to have done so little. It gave magazines good material and it gave some places a chance to promote cocktails but cinematically, in the end, it doesn’t have any more power than Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The two films actually feel kindred – for the brightness of their colours and for the fact that story is dominated by spectacle.

The novel seems doomed to be misfilmed.

I think someone needs to cut the story out – the drama that Fitzgerald wrote about four or five people whose paths cross one summer – and forget about The Jazz Age, The Roaring Twenties, The Great American Novel, etc, etc. Film it in England or Ireland. Maybe take it out of the Twenties. The story is tight, and the drama in it works, but when you’re filming it you lose all the creative ambiguity of the words and if you overcook anything for just a moment the story tumbles into opera.

Baz went big, made a beautiful-looking film, but the story was only a platform and that’s why it ended up being less than it should have been.

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