The Great Gatsby outline:
Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a depressed, middle-aged alcoholic in a sanatorium (like Fitzgerald towards the end of his life) is encouraged by his therapist to document his memories of the Twenties. These centre on Nick’s mysterious neighbour on Long Island. Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) throws enormous parties in a vast castle, but no one is sure how he’s made his fortune or where he comes from. Gatsby befriends Nick, who is flattered even when he discovers that the millionaire has an ulterior motive: he wishes to get back together with Nick’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan), a society beauty Gatsby loved before the war. She didn’t wait for him and married America’s richest bachelor, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), a polo-playing bully, poor and bigot, who fathered her daughter and now plays around with other women, especially a local garage owner’s promiscuous wife (Isla Fisher). Nick is lured into the upper-class milieu, only to become disenchanted by its lack of any emotions higher than lust and greed. The film centers of Gatsby trying to get Daisy back, a classic tale of love lost.
I can understand why the purists and classicalists don’t appreciate this all singing, all dancing, all champagne spraying, cabaret preforming version of the novel.
Even if you do fall into the above camp, you can’t deny, at the very least, that all 2 hours and 23 minutes of Bar Lurhmans vision of the classic American novel is an enticing adaptation. You can’t help but feel a bit of a sucker for getting drawn into the disgustingly decadent parties and lavish lives of the Buchanans and Gatsby.
It is glitzy, it is glam, it has all the pizazz and energy of a Las Vegas showgirl.
If you take the film into consideration without the reviews or book clouding your judgement, it stands alone as an epic film.
It’s easy to go along with the crowd when reviewing or forming an opinion, but I have to say that, even though this might mean I have well and truly fallen for the Hollywood-ised interpretation and charm of big name actors. I may have been duped into a blockbuster loving trance, but I don’t care, and I have to say that I loved this film. I didn’t even want to run to the bathroom after one of the extra-large cokes that is always compulsory for a cinema visit.
That doesn’t go without saying that, however much I felt enthralled by the glittering parties, Daisy’s seemingly innocent beauty and Gatsbys charm, I do understand how this version of a classic piece of literature could be perceive as crass, crude and even vulgar. It certainly has Lurmans stamp on it. Not one for subtlety or suggestive details, he throws all his flamboyance into making this film and finishes with an ostentatious, and dare I say ‘shallow’ adaptation BUT, I feel this is fine, I forgive him.
From a visual perspective, I adore the costumes, the styling, after all I am a fashion editor!
I fell completely for the juxtaposition of Jay Z and Beyonce doing their thing over the backdrop of a 1920′s New York, it’s unexpected, quirky and makes the whole thing even more larger than life. The injection of the haunting, reworked sound of Lana Del Ray in the more tender scenes of nothing short of ethereally beautiful.
I am in awe of how Daisy is introduced by seeing her casually lounging around in dress that would be more fitting of a white tie event, and I love the hint of ‘burlesque’ in Tom’s mistress’s costumes.
The fashion and costumes:
The costumes, which are on an entirely different level of amazing. Miuccia Prada was the mastermind behind the wardrobe, taking pieces from the Miu Miu and Prada archives, and tweaking them slightly to achieve the iconic 1920′s look. Mrs Prada herself and Catherine Martin worked together to create costumes with “the European flair that was emerging amongst the aristocratic East Coast crowds in the 1920s”. The crystal-laden shimmering Prada party gown worn by Daisy is described as the “pièce de résistance” of the mesmerising wardrobe. The wardrobe inspired a huge 20′s revival in the fashion world, with pearls, feathers, beading, flapper dresses, art deco, cloche hats, dark lips and pastel colours all resurfacing.
From a styling point of view, this film is one of my favourites, I’ve always had a very soft spot for the 20′s look, and the OTT, opulent take on the vintage theme is extraordinary. More is more in the case of headwear, embellishments and glam. As for the guys, pocket squares and lapel embellishments were crucial to show a man’s status as a Twenties power dresser. Tuxedos were bespoke creations, with only the finest tailored waistcoats and crisp shirts to refine them. Slicked back hair, with a Twenties wave, was also an essential for a gentleman as seen on Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby. Even Tiffany & Co. designed an extraordinary collection of platinum-set diamonds and lustrous pearls specifically for the film. The iconic label “seemed” the perfect fit for the jewellery of The Great Gatsby not only because F. Scott Fitzgerald himself was a customer, but also because Louis Comfort Tiffany, the brand’s first Design Director, mixed in the actual Long Island circles described in the novel,” recalls costume and production designer, Catherine Martin.
I know it’s wrong, and I almost feel ashamed, I almost DON’T want to like it so I can nod along as a I read the reviews that films has received from the likes of The Guardian and The Times, but I can’t, I can merely understand where they’re coming from, but when it comes down to it, I have to defend my love of the visually incredible film. The Art Deco mansion is nothing short of a Disney dream (I know, I’m cringing), but again, I’ve fallen for it. I know it’s not what Fitzgerald would have wanted, and he would probably be drowning his sorrows after seeing his exhilaratingly complex novel being turned into nothing more than mish-mash of dazzling wealth and a boy meets girl plot.
The operatic effects of the letters jumping onto the screen to reiterate Nicks inner woe as he narrates the film, the staggering contrast between the sparking lights of the impoverished down town district, all shown in camera zooms and swoops, the over choreographed dancing, the flapper girls in beaded, sequinned, shimmering costumes adapted from the Prada archives, it all adds to the effect.
Lurhman is known for his controversial and directional directing, he combined Radio Head with Romeo and Juliet and produced the over sexed, raunchy musical Moulin Rouge, and while yes it is over-produced, over-stylized, over-Hollywood-ized doesn’t mean it isn’t fabulous.
I mean, seriously… what did everyone expect him to do with a story that starts with the line;
“The parties were bigger…the pace was faster…the shows were broader, the buildings were higher,
the morals were looser and the liquor was cheaper.”
Well played Lurhman, well played!
Do you LOVE the fashion in this film too? What’s your thoughts? Tell us below.