Cannes Film Festival 2013: Baz Luhrmann shrugs off criticism of The Great Gatsby

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

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”.

 

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living