The Great Gatsby needs more than three dimensions

I'm worried my love of the book will be killed if I watch Lurhmann's new film

Share
Related Topics

Like countless others who read The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann fell in love with F Scott Fitzgerald's greatest novel. He was, apparently, on the Trans-Siberian railway at the time, listening to the audiobook, and was so swept up by the prose that he vowed to make a film about it.

Luhrmann is a genius at creating masterpieces of vivid colour and music – Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge were both spectacular. So why does my heart sink at the idea of his Great Gatsby, the full gaudiness of the Jazz Age digitally enhanced by 3D?

I became enchanted by the novel while studying it for A-level. The Great Gatsby broke through the structured, chapter-by-chapter deconstruction in lessons – which I found often killed a book – and I read it in my bedroom in one go. It remains my favourite novel – no other book has come close, or made such a lasting impression.

Fitzgerald's prose was so rich I could almost taste the mint juleps made by Daisy Buchanan and hear the laughter and music rising from the "blue gardens" at one of Gatsby's parties. I am sure this was what Luhrmann felt too, headphones on, as his train raced through the night to Ulan Bator, so it is understandable that he would want to recreate that sense of wonder with a film for a wide audience. But my problem with a 3D film is that The Great Gatsby is a book already in 3D. Fitzgerald's words are worth a thousand motion pictures.

OK, I have not seen the film, and perhaps I should give it a chance. But the trailers make me want to look away. In my mind, Jay Gatsby and his mansion were painted in ice-cream pastels, but in Luhrmann's version they are gilded with bling. Yes, I know this is his style, just as is overlaying modern music on to a traditional script (see Romeo + Juliet).

There is an argument that Luhrmann's use of 21st-century artists – Jay-Z and Lana Del Rey – will open up the novel to younger audiences, which is fair. But I am sure that once teenagers read the book themselves, they will discover they did not really need to be patronised by a soundtrack featuring Florence + the Machine. I can handle Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, a combination of beauty and harshness, and Carey Mulligan looks as though she's captured Daisy's fragility. But ironically, with a 3D film, everything must remain vivid: so the passages of the book that are achromatic – the description of the Valley of Ashes, where Tom Buchanan's lover, Myrtle Wilson, lives a mundane life devoid of joy until she is swept off to Manhattan – are too bold when converted on to the big screen. There is no dimming of the bright gleam; it is just blacks and greys looking resplendent.

Just as the love affair between Gatsby and Daisy is destroyed when they try to rekindle the past, so I fear my own love of The Great Gatsby will be killed if I watch Luhrmann's film. As Nick Carraway, the narrator, says, you can't repeat the past. Or, in Luhrmann's case, you can't repeat the wonder. I might watch the film, but only if I pretend it is as unreal as Jay Gatsby himself.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
The number of schools converting to academies in the primary sector has now overtaken those in the secondary sector – 2,299 to 1,884 (Getty)  

In its headlong rush to make a profit, our education system is in danger of ignoring its main purpose

Janet Street-Porter
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee