Cannes Film Festival 2013: Baz Luhrmann shrugs off criticism of The Great Gatsby
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Wednesday 15 May 2013
Baz Luhrmann has shrugged off the criticism of his big screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby, taking inspiration from its author F Scott Fitzgerald, who was “horrendously criticised” when the novel was published.
The 3D film opened the 66th Cannes Film Festival today, and the Australian director was in town alongside stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire to walk the red carpet.
Unusually for the opening film of a festival, Gatsby had already been released in the US. It has taken more than $50m at the box office but faced mixed reviews.
The Los Angeles Times said the filmmaking “suffocates beyond resuscitation any dramatic interest” while the Miami Herald called it “A failure that should have at least been a magnificent mistake.”
The same, Luhrmann said, happened to Fitzgerald. “He wrote that book, and he was horrendously criticised when the book came out. The major critic of the day called him ‘Fitzgerald, this clown’ and said his characters were like marionettes.”
Throughout Luhrmann’s career, with films such as Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, he “never got high critic scores,” he said.
“I knew it would come. What about Fitzgerald? What about him writing that book? What about [being called] ‘a clown’? I just care that people are going out and seeing it.”
One person who has approved of the adaptation was Eleanor Lanahan, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, born four years after the author’s death.
She approached the director following the premier, and told him: “I think Scott would be proud of this film, because people have said for many years you cannot take his first person narrative and make it into a film. I think you’ve done that.”
Luhrmann said: “For me that was about as good as it could possibly get. If we’ve done anything, that’s made it worthwhile.” The director also revealed that the book sold more copies last week than it had throughout the author’s lifetime.
One questioner compared the film to Citizen Kane, to which Luhrmann responded light-heartedly: “I’m alright with that.”
He also added that the film shared its “DNA” with classic Humphrey Bogart film Casablanca, which was also made by Warner Bros.
“I think that Gatsby ultimately found its right home because it’s in the DNA of Warner Bros,” he said, adding: “To even talk about our film in the same breath as Citizen Kane is an honour to hear.
Luhrmann said the project had been a “10-year journey,” from when he listened to the audiobook of Gatsby on a train. He called it a “revelation” adding: “I realised it was us, it was where we are now and was a great mirror to reflect back on.”
While the film does have an updated hip hop soundtrack, the filmmakers hired a phalanx of Fitzgerald scholars to ensure the adaptation stayed true to the book.
Critics who have praised the adaptation, have said it was “unmistakably F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby” and it was “the best attempt to capture the essence of the novel”.
DiCaprio said he was “fascinated” by Gatsby as a character. “I was moved by him. It no longer became a love story to me it became a tragedy” about a man trying to become “the new Rockefeller and along the way had lost the sense of who he was.”
The Hollywood actor, who worked with Luhrmann on the 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, said Luhrmann “inspires you in the workplace, not only to do your best, but dream big”.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Three-year-old boy shoots pregnant mother and father in New Mexico
- 2 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 3 Jewish community urged to boycott Cornwall village after residents vote for 'Hitlers Walk' sign to be reinstated
- 4 Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign