Magazine article Variety

Luhrmann Makes a Classic His Own

Magazine article Variety

Luhrmann Makes a Classic His Own

Article excerpt

LUHRMANN MAKES A CLASSIC HIS OWN

7/10

No wonder Cannes invited The Great Gatsby to open the festival this year. Baz Luhrmann's glittery adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel is as strong an example of auteur cinema as Hollywood can support - which is to say, the Moulin Rouge director has taken an American literary classic many half-remember from high school and reinvented it as only he could: as a gaily expressionistic, vibrantly kaleidoscopic pastiche of visual and musical styles.

Forget the West Egg you thought you knew; Luhrmann sucks out its yolk and stuffs it full of confetti, replacing the book's finely etched characters with larger-than-life archetypes. Juggling design influences, he blends everything from period illustrator J.C. Leyendecker's golden-haired, square-shouldered ideal to the gauzy, high-artifice fantasies of 1960s underground filmmaker James Bidgood into a dizzying whirlwind. It's enough to make even Armani or Liberace blush.

On the page, the hyperbole doesn't seem quite so ... hyperbolic, as one can only imagine the grandeur of Gatsby's parties, the scale of his mansion and the extent of his shirt collection. Despite retaining moth-on-the-wall Nick Carraway as his bookish narrator, behind the camera, Luhrmann adopts the tacky, new-money personality of Gatsby's uncouth party-crashers. …

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