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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea