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“Who is this Gatsby?” This question strings together the narrative of the trailer for the up-coming F Scott Fitzgerald adaption,‘The Great Gatsby’, released earlier this week. Of course, this 2.4 minute splicing of cleverly timed scenes and artfully disjointed dialogue provides no definitive answer to the question that haunts its characters, however, it does give the audience an inkling of the sort of product that Warner Bros. will release come Christmas.
During his film career, Australian director Baz Luhrmann has varied his subject matter in both scope and substance– finding inspiration in the domestic, such as in the 1992 dark comedy ‘Strictly Ballroom’, and in the sweeping epic, typified by his 2001 musical romance ‘Moulin Rouge!’ Nonetheless, throughout his cinematic catalogue, Luhrmann has managed to maintain a strong and very idiosyncratic aesthetic. As a result, it is unsurprising that the director’s style permeates every second of his carefully crafted trailer.
In this movie, Luhrmann will retell the seminal story of Nick Carraway, a young man thrust into the whirl-wind social life of elite, disillusioned, post-war Americans who finds himself intertwined with an illicit, uncontainable romance between two extraordinary people.
The actors operate within a world which is purely Luhrmann in its incredible lushness. While the director, and Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carroway, firmly set the movie in a 1920s New York, there is such a great vivacity to Luhrmann’s touch that he elevates the action above the painstakingly reproduced costumes and architecture into a dramatic space that seems almost unreal.
This feeling of being out of time and space is exacerbated by the use of Jay Z ft. Kanye West’s ‘No Church in the Wild’ and U2′s ‘Love is Blindness’ to score the images that flicker on the screen. The pacing of the clips towards the end of the trailer, interspersed by luxurious, gold-plated credits, lead the final moments of the trailer into a fever-pitch of drama as the narrative approaches incoherency.
Baz Luhrmann has never been known for his cinematic restraint and whoever is responsible for this trailer reproduces the feel of Luhrmann’s movies to a tee.
This being said, it is important to note that Fitzgerald’s own elan comfortably shares the stage with Luhrmann’s artistic tendencies. While the presence of Bollywood Superstar Amitabh Bachchan as conspicuously Jewish lawyer Meyer Wolfsheim seems a bit of a misnomer, it is evident even in the trailer that the rest of the cast has a strong grasp on their roles.
Enormously talented indie darling Carey Mulligan fully encapsulates the essence of flighty Daisy and Leonardio DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby oozes charm while, post-’Spiderman’ Tobey Maguire once again plays the perfect fly on the wall as Nick. Even ‘Animal Kingdom’s’ Joel Edgerton exudes a strong presence as Tom Buchanan despite his lack of screen time.
Quite apart from the on-point casting, it is clear that Luhrmann has maintained some of the most structurally important and viscerally memorable moments of the novel; the scene where Gatsby pulls out his shirts and the disquieting image of Dr T J Eckleberg are both conserved, as is Nick’s third-party narration.
Essentially, it looks like ‘The Great Gatsby’ will keep the shape of the classic novel littering bookshelves of high-school students everywhere, though this silhouette will be re-seen through the lens of one of the most vivid and stylized directors of this film epoch.
And, considering that the trailer’s YouTube viewcount had passed a million views within the first 24 hours of its release, it would seem that the world is eager to have the opportunity to gaze at the characters they’ve always known through these new, powerfully tinted glasses.