This week it was revealed that English actress Carey Mulligan is to play the coveted role of Daisy Buchanan, in Baz Luhrman’s forthcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby. But is this a movie that we even want to see (again!)?
I treasure this book, but Baz Luhrman’s adaptation is doomed to be more miss than hit: movies rarely ever capture the essence of the original book.
And it wouldn’t be the first time: the Great Gatsby has never been successfully adapted for the big screen. The first visual adaptation of the book was a silent movie in 1926; in 1949 it was adapted with sound; and in 1974 the most popular version to date was released, starring Robert Redford as Jay, and Mia Farrow as Daisy. But the movie never really reached the dizzying heights that it should have. Fitzgerald ought to be chuffed: 85 years later and Hollywood is still trying to bottle the Gatsby magic! But why should Luhrman’s adaptation be any different?
For this adaptation to work, the narrative must not be thinned down; Fitzgerald’s beautiful language and imagery must seep elegantly out of the screen, a difficult task; it must also be visually stunning, but not arty-farty; and no theme should be ignored. The Great Gatsby is much, much more than just a love story. It’s about class, it’s about the American Dream, and its about the “green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us”. To reduce it to nothing but a soppy, sloppy kiss would be a tragedy in itself.
But perhaps most importantly, the characters must be “possessed with intense life”. Arguably, Daisy’s shoes are tough to fill but BAFTA-nominated Carey Mulligan sounds promising and she certainly looks the part. It is claimed that Tobey Maguire will play the role of Nick Carraway, and although I’m not a fan of spidey, I can see how this could work. Finally, Jay is to be played by Leonardo DiCaprio, which in my opinion is the best news so far! There is much hype surrounding the cast of this movie, and rightly so, this trio alone could turn Gatsby’s fortune round.
As fans tentatively await the cinema release of another great American classic, Kerouac’s On The Road, I wonder if film writers are simply running out of new material, and that The Great Gatsby will be one in a long line of great American novels to be gobbled up by Hollywood. Let’s pray that Hollywood doesn’t spit this one right back out…