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

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia  

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Oliver Poole
Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup