The Great Gatsby (2013): Expectations and Reservations


The trailer for the new film The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann, takes a very modern-looking spin on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel. Set in the summer of 1922 in Long Island, NY, Fitzgerald’s novel takes place during a time of great prosperity brought on by the ending of World War I where decadence runs rampant. A narrative on material excess and social and moral decay, The Great Gatsby is a tale of the corruption of the American Dream, with characters representing manifestations of the themes themselves.

Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), the narrator, a would-be writer and World War I vet, is a resident of West Egg and neighbor to the elusive and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. Sucked into the world of parties and loose morals through Gatsby’s mansion extravaganzas, a once optimistic man, Nick soon embodies the cynicism felt by many soldiers returning from the carnage of war to the excess of the post-war American society. Nick is to a great extent the young and innocent babe-in-the-woods type, so the casting of Tobey Maguire for the part seems really accurate in many ways, given his youthful demeanor and general curiosity.

Nick’s second cousin and Fitzgerald’s main female character is Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Daisy is married to millionaire Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) from East Egg, but once had Gatsby as a suitor as well – a leading conflict in the novel. Attractive and self-absorbed, Daisy is very much a spaced out and lost character, who is drawn to Gatsby and any sign of excitement. Played by the elegant and doe-faced Carey Mulligan, there are high expectations for this role. Daisy is a central figure in the book and film’s shocking conclusion. Mulligan has an opportunity to do something amazing with this role.

The most elusive and intensely interesting character in the book, Jay Gatsby is the essence of the corrupt American dream. A successful businessman with shady connections, Gatsby is torn over his love of Daisy, which brings him at odds with Tom Buchanan. When Gatsby’s shady lifestyle is revealed, the cracks in the American dream seem to chip away line by line from there. In the end, considering all of Gatsby’s popularity and wealth, life has little to show for it. The casting of Gatsby’s character must have been difficult, given that Gatsby is not an unknown. Gatsby is the golden boy, and it is only fitting that he be played by someone weathered in the best of film. Leonardo DiCaprio proved to be the only man for the job. With raw emotional energy and the “Gatsby” glow about him, it seems that the consideration for another to take this role is inconceivable. The level of expectancy is high for DiCaprio to represent a cornerstone character in American Literature. He should be aware that to play Gatsby is to play a bold-faced American lie – to live the lifestyle by tricking us all.

The modern spin and high budget of the film has fans worried that all the glitz might undermine the heart of the story, which is definitely anti-glitz oriented. However, the acting chops, if done well, should make up for any mishaps. The film was also shot in Australia, far from the shores of Long Island so we will see how that is remedied here. One casting that does have fans rather puzzled and anxious is that of Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson, wife of key character George Wilson (Jason Clarke). Fisher doesn’t seem to have the word mistress plastered over her dainty head, but maybe she will surprise moviegoers.

To all writers and lovers of literature and film, fans anticipate that expectations for this film are just as high as theirs. Fingers are crossed in anticipation of the movie’s opening date of May 10th.

See the trailer below for a sneak peek of the movie:

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