Don’t Disappoint Me, Baz: My Gatsby Must-Haves

The time is here: Baz Luhrman’s long-awaited adaptation of The Great Gatsby will be hitting theatres today, after a lot of delays (on the studio’s part) and impatience (on my part).

You’d be hard-pressed to find a movie I’m more excited about. First of all, like a lot of people my age, I fell in love with Luhrmann’s directorial style back in Romeo + Juliet. I loved the idea of taking a beloved classic, leaving the dialogue pretty much where it was, but adapting it with a lot of flair and flash. Of course, around the same time, I fell in love with Leonardo DiCaprio, so I’m pretty jazzed about that. F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors, so any Fitzgerald adaptation is pretty exciting to me — though I do wish that readers would look past Gatsby and read his other work, too! And, the jazz age is just about my favorite modern historical era. I have a huge, weird, posthumous crush on a whole bunch of the Lost Generation of writers.

With great anticipation comes the potential for great disappointment. Literary interpretations are notorious for this (right, Harry Potter fans?). You create a whole world in your head, and can’t help but be a little let down when the director’s imagination led him or her into another direction. So, I want to go into The Great Gatsby with an open mind. I have a very, very short list of things that I want to see in the movie. The rest is just window dressing.

* A Non-Idiotic Daisy

I have never seen an actress play Daisy the way I’d like her to be played, but that doesn’t surprise me because most readers see Daisy differently than I do. Stupid, basically. They see her as stupid.

I think this has completely been a matter of how the actresses have interpreted Daisy, not bad acting. Like, Mia Farrow is a phenomenal actress, but I didn’t love her Daisy, who was like human cotton candy. She did manage to sound like money, though. Definitely interested in how Carey Mulligan will make her voice sound like money.

For me, the key to Daisy being a non-dummy is the same sentence that makes most people think she’s stupid. When speaking of her daughter, Daisy says “I hope she’ll be a fool. That’s the best thing in the world a girl can be — a beautiful little fool. You see, I think everything’s terrible anyhow.. And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.”

That’s it, for me. That’s Daisy. And interestingly enough, Zelda Fitzgerald said almost the same thing when little Scottie was born – and Zelda had her issues, but I don’t think a low IQ was one of them. Daisy thinks the best thing a girl can be is a beautiful fool, which makes a lot of people think that’s what she is, too. But Daisy is terribly unhappy, and she doesn’t want that for her daughter. Daisy knows that it’s best to be a beautiful fool, because she’s not: she’s beautiful, but she’s world-weary — been everywhere, seen everything — and she knows that it’s hard to both be beautiful and to know the trouble that beauty carries with it. Better that her child is foolish, so she has a chance to be happy. On the outside, Daisy is a carefree ingenue, but inside, she’s tired. She’s careless, sure, but careless and stupid aren’t one and the same. I think Carey Mulligan will be able to pull this nuance off.

* At least one absolutely amazing party sequence

Come on, Baz. I KNOW you can do this. From R+J, I’m expecting it, and from the trailers for Gatsby, I really think we’ll get it. It’s not just that I want to see a lot of fireworks and flapper dresses (though I do). But, Gatsby’s legendary parties are practically a character in themselves. Without an absolutely astonishing party, you wouldn’t get to see the difference between the artiface and spectacle of Jay Gatsby, compared with the real man.

* Symbolism without Anvils

Careful readers or people who took high school English will remember all of the symbolism in Gatsby. When you’re reading, it’s subtle enough, especially when you’re a 15-year-old who wants to get back to the parties and affairs and outfits. But when you’re watching the story play out in a visual medium, it can get a little over the top. GREEN LIGHT. THE EYES OF TJ ECKLEBURG. VALLEY OF ASHES. HEY THE EYES ARE WATCHING YOU. I want them all there, of course, because you can’t have Gatsby without that billboard and that light. But, I don’t want it to be smashed over my head. How do you have running theme symbolism without making too big a deal of it? I’m not sure, but I’m trusting Luhrmann with that.

* Enough Fashions That We’ll Want To Write A Post About Them

If I made a personal version of the song My Favorite Things, the line about “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes” would be replaced with lyrics about, I don’t know, men who look like Leo DiCaprio and Toby Maguire in suits. So, yes, I want men in nice suits. Would it hurt if this got guys dressing like Arrow collar ads? And ladies in swingy 20s dresses. And so many bobbed haircuts that I question my commitment to long braidable hair and consider a chin-length crop. I want the movie to inform 2013 fashion, because as it is, flappers only come out at Halloween now, and it’s time for slight, flat-chested ladies to have our fashion moment. Come on, Luhrmann. I know you can do this.


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