Would Fitzgerald Have Liked Baz Luhrmann's "Great Gatsby" Trailer?
The first trailer for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby has just been released, and there's already been a lot of buzz and speculation that Fitzgerald lovers, purists, and traditionalists will be less than pleased with it (you can, and should, watch the trailer here. It's amazing).
The Huffington Post tweeted this morning that "The first trailer for 'Great Gatsby' has arrived. Avert your eyes, Fitzgerald fanatics!"
"The Great Gatsby" trailer has arrived with the familiar and era-appropriate tones of the Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration, "No Church in the Wild." You crazy for this one, Baz Luhrmann!
Based on the famed F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, Luhrmann's adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular great one, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan and Joel Edgerton as her husband, Tom.
If you needed further proof that this isn't your father's "Gatsby," -- beyond the anachronistic music cue, of course -- try this on for size: Luhrmann's film will get released in 3D, since nothing needs an extra dimension like classic 1925 prose.
WSJ's Speakeasy blog chimes in to make a similar point:
“The Great Gatsby” is set during the Jazz Age, but a new movie version is adding a dose of hip hop. A trailer for the coming adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire has hit the web and it’s causing a stir with literature purists. The film, based on the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and directed by Baz Luhrmann, is scheduled for release this Christmas. The trailer opens in the proper setting of 1922 but the musical selection – Kanye West’s and Jay-Z’s “No Church in the Wild”– is awfully contemporary.
NYDN's Page Views blog notes that this is not your "high school teacher's F. Scott Fitzgerald," while adding "It certainly doesn't look like Luhrmann skimped on the costumes or set design, as both appear to be faithful to the Prohibition-era Long Island where the novel is set."
As a traditionalist and a lover of all-things-Fitzgerald, I was completely captivated by the trailer. The two-minute clip is lush, decadent, and sexy--three qualities that Fitzgerald was not unfamiliar with. Let's not forget that Fitzgerald was the consummate alcoholic who, with his wife Zelda, were glamourous socialites on the New York circuit during the twenties. As a testament to that, in 1929, Fitzgerald wrote "A Short Autobiography" for The New Yorker in the form of a catalog of cocktails:
In 1913, when Fitzgerald was seventeen, we have, “The four defiant Canadian Club whiskeys at the Susquehanna in Hackensack.” For 1920, the year he marries his southern belle, he writes, “Corn liquor by moonlight in a deserted aviation field in Alabama.” In 1921, following the success of This Side of Paradise, celebration is in the air with “Champagne in the Savoy Grill.” In 1925, when The Great Gatsby was published, there is fruit brandy and a hint of sadness: “Kirsch in a Burgundy inn against the rain with E. Hemingway.” The theme (and fear) of emotional bankruptcy was important to Fitzgerald, which is something to keep in mind when reading his 1929 entry: “A feeling that all liquor has been drunk and all it can do for one has been experienced, and yet—”. . . and yet, he continues in French, some more wine, please. Here, the reader begins to sense that as the decade of jazz and flappers and liquor comes to a close, Fitzgerald’s honeymoon with life is ending.
In other words, Fitzgerald embodied the excesses of the Jazz Age, excesses that Luhrmann's trailer captures perfectly. And even though Luhrmann opts for hip hop rather than jazz as background music--which has already become a source of comment and consternation--the two are close substitutes: jazz, in the twenties, was considered hot, morally degenerate, and libertine. And, to a certain audience, the same can be said of hip hop today.
The movie is scheduled to hit theaters on Christmas Day. I, for one, cannot wait.