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
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • 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.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence