The audio version of this post appears below. Just click on “play”.
I just watched the most recent version of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio. I know, I know, I’m a little late to the party, but I wasn’t sure I even wanted to see it based on mixed reviews from friends as well as how fast the Hollywood sizzle petered out. I finally gave in having found myself with a couple of hours to kill and the need for a blog post topic. I wasn’t even through the first scene and I felt completely assaulted.
As far as I’m concerned, Hollywood can take wide berth when it comes to interpreting an author’s work. In fact, I look forward to seeing different interpretations of my favorite stories. I know some people take offense when their beloved storylines get messed with, but not me, not at all. If I ever get big enough for someone to actually want to make a movie about one of my works – I seriously would look forward to seeing what they would do with it. Art is art, it should be fluid and pliable and fans of it must be willing to keep an open mind. I’ve only recently been able to do that and it’s made the experience of watching movie adaptations much more enjoyable.
But, this was an abomination of the largest order.
I feel completely assaulted and have no doubt Fitzgerald is spinning in his little Maryland grave. A whole generation of people will now go around with this ridiculous version of one of the best pieces of American literature ever created. Instead of getting the realistic view that the 1974 version of the film laid out – millions of people are walking around thinking that the twenties rolled out like a decades long P. Diddy white party and Gatsby was some kind of glorified MC. Which leads me to the most insulting aspect of the whole film – the music.
Holy hell what were these people thinking? When you tell a story, especially a period piece, the scene you are setting up needs to be true to the times and nothing is more important than the score in doing that. You want to fuse rap with jazz? Do it in a studio and play it in a club – don’t fuck up a masterpiece of a story.
The film process wasn’t much better. Gatsby wasn’t a graphic novel – I felt like I was watching Sin City; at any moment expecting Marv to come out and kill someone by tying them to the fountain and having a pack of wiener dogs gnaw at their ankles while we got a couple more cheesy shots of NYC in the background up over the top of the Gatsby manse. Which if you watched closely and know how a compass works – would have been Havana, not New York.
If I really wanted to go off on the casting, I could write for hours but let’s just take the most egregious mistake. Who in their right mind EVER thought a young Sam Waterston could be replaced by that hack Maguire? That was the most important role in the whole film. Talk about a miss. I should add, I felt the same way about Mia Farrow in the first film – she sucked.
Anyway, I have to stop myself before this becomes way too long-winded and even angrier than it already is. This was a train wreck and never should have happened. Erasing it from my brain is going to be rough. I thought maybe I would read the book and then watch the original movie with Redford because that might be good therapy, but this movie makes me not even want to re-visit the story. Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll be ready, but right now I need to forget about it.