Posts Tagged ‘f scott fitzgerald’

This is the fifth adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beautifully written novel, of love, affluence, ambition and disillusionment.  I wouldn’t say that I was expecting not to enjoy it, but I was prepared to be disappointed – but how wrong I was!  To my surprise, this was unquestionably my favourite adaptation out of those that I have seen so far, and to my even greater surprise, I also thought that Leonardo DiCaprio was the best Gatsby yet.

As anyone might expect from a Baz Luhrmann production, this film is drenched in colour, noise and flamboyance, which works perfectly when depicting the debauchery and affluence on show, especially at Gatsby’s famous parties.  It’s very stylised, and has a great soundtrack courtesy of Jay-Z, who was also a producer on the film.  (As the story is set in the 1920s, a Jay-Z soundtrack shouldn’t work on paper, but it really comes together to great effect.)

Leonardo DiCaprio is excellent as Gatsby, bringing a real depth to the character.  I also loved Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan.  In comparison to Mia Farrow, who was so irritating in the 1974 film, and Mira Sorvino, who was probably too sympathetic in the 2001 version, Mulligan really shines.  She portrays Daisy’s shallowness well, but also lends an air of regretful nostalgia for what her character let slip out of her grasp years earlier.  Elizabeth Debicki played Jordan Baker, pretty much exactly how I imagined Jordan to be when I read the book, and Joel Edgerton was superb as the cold and cruel Tom Buchanan.

Nick Carraway, who as always, narrates the story was played by Tobey Maguire, and he was great.  (My favourite Nick is still sam Waterston, playing opposite Robert Redford as Gatsby, and Paul Rudd also did an excellent job.)  In this version, Carraway is in hospital being treated for alcoholism, and at the urging of his doctor, writes down the story of Gatsby and the events of that fateful summer.  I wasn’t sure initially how this new approach would play out, but it does work, and allows the character to read more passages from the book than Carraway did in previous versions.

Only a couple of minor niggles – Gatsby’s funeral was not shown at all, but Carraway says that nobody but him attended.  In the book, and in previous versions, Gatsby’s father shows up for the funeral and it’s a touching scene.  Additionally, a small character known as ‘Owl Eyes’ also attends the funeral.  I would have liked to have seen this in the film, but overall there is so much to enjoy that it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall excellence.

I really enjoyed this film.  I would recommend other adaptations to fans of the novel, but I would recommend this version to anybody.  Well worth seeing.

Year of release: 2013

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Producers: Baz Luhrmann, Bruce Berman, Jay-Z, Barrie M. Osborne, Lucy Fisher, Catherine Knapman, Catherine Martin, Anton Monsted, Douglas Wick

Writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald (novel), Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce

Main cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Elizabeth Debicki, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher


Click here for my review of the novel.

Click here for my review of the 1974 film adaptation.

Click here for my review of the 2000 film adaptation.


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This movie chronicles the last months in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life, as detailed in the book by Sheila Graham – Hollywood reporter and one time girlfriend of Fitzgerald. The author of such incredible novels as The Great Gatsby (which, if you haven’t read, I highly recommend) and Tender Is The Night, is now writing pulp fiction movies for a movie studio – accepting what work he can in order to pay for the care of his wife Zelda who is in an asylum, and the schooling for his daughter.  He meets Sheila Graham, and there is an instant attraction between them.  They fall deeply in love, but Fitzgerald’s alcoholism threatens to destroy their unhappiness.

First let me preface my thoughts on the movie by saying that I am aware that this account of real life events has been highly fictionalised and romanticised.  I decided to view it almost as a fictional film about fictional characters, which helped my enjoyment of it.  This is not a very popular film (Peck himself was not overly happy with it), and there were parts it which didn’t so well, but overall I did enjoy watching it.

I thought Peck played his part well, and really showed the difference between the witty, erudite and thoughtful sober Fitzgerald, and the drunken, overbearing and rude Fitzgerald (again, this may be misrepresenting the real man, so I am talking as if the character was entirely fictional).  Like many drunks, Fitzgerald could be funny and entertaining, but he couldn’t handle the alcohol, and it made him unpredictable to be around.  In fact, the scenes of a drunken Fitzgerald were some of Peck’s best scenes in this film.

Gregory Peck looks gorgeous – absolutely so – in this film.  One of the best looking Hollywood actors ever (to me anyway), here he is handsome and charismatic.  Deborah Kerr however, while looking lovely, didn’t seem quite so convincing in her role.  I thought she was terrific in An Affair To Remember, but here she seems overly theatrical in the part, and it was hard to really warm to her character.

The score is somewhat overblown, although there is some lovely music in it, but the movie does look beautiful.  If you’ve not seen this lesser appreciated movie, I think it’s worth giving it a go.  Much of the criticism levelled at it is entirely justified, but if you can take that on board, there’s still a lot of reasons to see this film.

Year of release: 1959

Director: Henry King

Writers: Sheila Graham (book), Gerold Frank (book), Sy Bartlett

Main cast: Gregory Peck, Deborah Kerr, Eddie Albert

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