Green Light for The Great Gatsby

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Green Light for The Great Gatsby

The Southerner

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By Madeline Veira

 Heavy bass. Sultry singers. Pop lyrics. Guitar Solos. Beyoncé.

None of these may come to mind when you think of the 1920s, but the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby manages to bring the 20s into full swing. There’s one problem, though: you can’t tell when you watch the movie.

I rushed to finish the last page of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, as we were on our way to Midtown theater Thursday night. It was not long before we got our tickets, our popcorn drizzled in butter, and sat in our seats amongst the anxious crowd of Great Gatsby fans. The lights dimmed and the symbolic green light glimmered across the screen as  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words came to life.

As much anticipated as the film, the soundtrack to the Great Gatsby, composed by rapper Jay-Z, was well received by critics. Unfortunately the music was not well presented throughout the movie. For most of the songs, only a short, muted fragment was played and the brilliance of each track was indiscernible.

After listening to the full soundtrack days before the movie was released, I was excited to see how each song would be featured, especially my favorite, a cover of Back to Black sung by Andre 3000 and Beyoncé. The sound of Back to Black is very different and eccentric, making it a great creation for the movie, as well as Florence and the Machine’s song Over The Love. As you listen to the lyrics of this song, you can hear how it describes Gatsby’s perspective and his impassioned desire to be with his long-lost lover. All of the songs demonstrate the talent of each of the artists, and the combination of jazz and modern-day sounds tied everything together to make it a fantastic soundtrack.

As for the movie, seeing the few stars and poor reviews that The Great Gatsby received, I was reluctant to see Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the classic, but I couldn’t resist, hoping that it was too harshly judged and that it would exceed my expectations. Not only did Luhrmann do a great job with making the movie reflect Fitzgerald’s novel, but it was as ravishing and magnificent as Gatsby’s own Long Island parties.

For those unfamiliar with Fitzgerald’s classic, the story is narrated by Nick Carraway, an aspiring stock broker who moves to a small cottage in West Egg, Long Island, next to his extremely wealthy and mysterious neighbor Jay Gatsby, who throws extravagant parties each weekend. During the summer, Nick visits his cousin, Daisy, who lives close by. She is married to his old college friend, Tom Buchanan. Nick soon finds out about her past with his mysterious neighbor when he lands himself in the middle of the drama.

Although many scenes from the movie were almost exactly how Fitzgerald described them in the novel, some of Luhrmann’s changes improved on the original story. In the book, Gatsby didn’t have much of an introduction for a man that is so rich and famous. The main character, Nick, was just having a conversation with a man at the first of Gatsby’s parties that he had attended, and he just turned out to be talking to Gatsby himself. In  the movie you get to see him after he introduces himself to Nick. He is smiling in his expensive suit surrounded by the extravagant scene with fireworks exploding in the background. Luhrmann’s modification made his introduction much more ostentatious and definitely one to be remembered.

In the novel, it is evident that Nick Carraway is the person narrating. In Luhrmann’s adaptation, he made it even more clear by showing Carraway’s character as he wrote about his experiences over the summer in a psychiatric ward. It was a change that I’m sure many of the readers weren’t expecting, but I personally didn’t have an issue with Luhrmann’s addition.

One thing that I would change though, is the actress who played Tom Buchanan’s mistress, Myrtle. In the book she is described as being very curvy and almost chubby but Isla Fisher, the actress who played her, doesn’t quite fit that description. In fact, Fisher is a very petite actress. Otherwise, the choices for the cast were fantastic, and I don’t think that I would’ve enjoyed the movie as much without Leonardo DiCaprio or Tobey Maguire.

All in all I think that Luhrmann did an wonderful job, and the movie was a great representation of Fitzgerald’s famous novel. Although the soundtrack wasn’t presented as well as I thought it should be, it is still a fantastic piece of art, and Jay-Z did an amazing job. And whether you read the book or not, I would definitely recommend the movie.

 

 

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