Yale graduate Nick Carraway rents a summer home preparing to become a stock broker in New York City. His house is next to the infamous host of the wildest parties in town, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is madly in love with Daisy Buchanan, an old sweetheart now married to old money polo player Tom Buchanan. Gatsby enlists Carraway to help him meet and convince Daisy that she should leave her husband for him. Will he succeed?
Many of you will have first read this novel in high school or as part of an introduction to American literature class. I read this novel in a class dedicated to Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels. The Great Gatsby, although not a popular novel when it came out, is now a classic. It has been adapted to theatre and film several times, although I don’t recall a comic book adaptation yet!
This film was delayed from the Christmas 2012 season for a summer blockbuster breakthrough. I suppose Warner Brothers were very confident with the film. What I really liked about this film is that Leonardo DiCaprio whom I thought I could no longer tolerate on film has managed to make me believe in him. DiCaprio is the kind of actor that either plays himself, or whose personality on screen is so great that it’s difficult to disassociate the actor from the character. Here, he really was the Great Gatsby.
Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway was weird in this movie. His voice at the beginning of the film was so soft that I thought that it was an old woman speaking. His character as the one who witnesses all was just right for the film. I was not familiar with the Carey Mulligan in the role of Daisy Buchanan, but I really liked her looks in this film. She and Elizabeth Debicki playing best girlfriend Jordan Baker captured the look of the 1920s that I personally imagine. Specifically, Debicki, although her looks in the film conflicted with her description in the novel, embodied the “pencil woman” look of the Jazz Age.
Of course, I still felt that a great injustice had been perpetrated against Gatsby by the end of the film and the dread was something that could have eaten at my pleasure for the gargantuan scenes in the film, but it didn’t. The first party at Gatsby was as crazy and over the top as possible in a way that I don’t even think Fitzgerald would have imagined. It ranked as well for me as my favourite orgy scene in Cecil B. DeMille and Charlton Heston’s The Ten Commandments.
The sense of wonder in this film started in the scene where Carraway meets his cousin Daisy for the first time in years and the rooms opens up with drapes flowing in and out of the screen only to reveal Daisy and Jordan slouching on a couch. The visual effects in this film were extremely cool and really captured the essence of that decade (and the white supremacist undertone of Tom Buchanan), with full art deco styling and Jazz visuals. This is one of the few movies that actually made the 3D additions essential to the viewing. Very few films, like Avatar can justify the 3D effect.
Thinking of all these wonderful characters, if I had to simplify the story for comic book fan, I would say Gatsby was Archie, Daisy was Veronica, Tom was Reggie, Caraway was Jughead and Jordan was Betty. Archie was as crazy about Veronica as ever while the latter although a loving character at some point was ultimately a rich old bitch who conspired with Reggie to cripple Archie mortally. Archie was also crazy about cars, just like Gatsby. Jughead was still the best and only pal Archie/Gatsby ever had. If Archie Comics is reading this, I would pay good money for an adaptation of The Great Gatsby with the Archie Comics characters playing the roles of the novel’s characters.