For some, it doesn't get any better than a Baz Lurhmann-directed, 3-D reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby with a Christmas release date.
Lurhmann is known for his '90s acid-trip version of Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge, a musical tragedy that features music from the likes of Nirvana and Madonna even though it's set in the 18th century. So when it was announced that the eccentric Aussie would bring the Jazz Age tale to life in 3-D, many were intrigued. Yet since the film's first trailer debut last week, just as many have expressed skepticism.
Lurhmann is known for anachronism in his work, and from the looks of the trailer, The Great Gatsby isn't true to the period. Lurhmann's decision to use a modern soundtrack has incensed some fans of the classic, who think that songs like No Church in the Wild by Jay-Z and Kanye West and a Jack White cover of U2's Love is Blindness have no business in a film supposedly set in the roaring '20s. The fact that they used No Church in the Wild as the trailer music does not bode well for the movie, quipped one YouTube user.
'Slow pan over a 3-D-rendered Times Square, cue Kanye West song.' -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, said another.
Lurhmann has also been criticized for the outlandish liberties he has taken with the story's signature party scenes. The trailer highlights shots of grandiose soirées that aren't true to the text. The trailer shows a lavish pool party complete with confetti, balloons, fireworks, dancing showgirls, feathers and glittery costumes. Fans of the book have noted that the parties described by Fitzgerald are underwhelming and lackluster. Andrew Losowsky, a literature editor at the Huffington Post said it best:
When Fitzgerald writes 'between the numbers, people were doing stunts all over the garden while happy vacuous bursts of laughter rose toward the summer sky,' I'm not sure he was thinking of bacchanalian set pieces that would rival an orgy staged by Bono and Julie Taymar for the joint birthdays of Russian oligarchs and Silvio Berlusconi. Yet this is what we are being presented. In glorious 3-D at that.
One film blogger couldn't agree more: Some directors might say, 'I think there are a few too many feather boas in this scene,' and Baz Luhrman is like, '50 feather boas? How about 500,000 feather boas?'
The trailer also contains a major production faux pas. A few articles have called the film out for a typo that appears in one of Lurhmann's signature zoom-in shots. Among the neon lights and marquees, the billboard that reads Zeigfeld Follies is a misspelling of Ziegfeld Follies. Outlets like MovieTalk and the Daily Mail have called out the error.
The blunder prompted one Twitter user to comment: A budget of $127,000,000, and it seems no one was paid to check the spelling of Ziegfeld Follies in the Great Gatsby trailer. #whoopsadaisy.
What's most puzzling about The Great Gatsby is the fact that it's being released in 3-D. The technology is typically reserved for mainstream action films such as Avatar and Clash of the Titans. Though a few nonaction films, such as the German dance drama Pina and the documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, have been released as 3-D, some are finding it difficult to fathom why Lurhmann chose to film Gatsby with an extra dimension. When news of the director's intention was announced, the Screening Room's Mark Humphries questioned the decision.
What if Tom Hooper made The King's Speech as a 3-D, British period-piece extravaganza? Merely picturing the experience of watching Colin Firth's emotionally stirring king's speech scene via a pair of 3-D eye goggles is enough to send chills up my spine (not the same kind of chills I experienced while watching the actual 'King's Speech'). Given the artistic merit of Fitzgerald's narrative in 'The Great Gatsby,' a 3-D movie version would be a calamitous mistake.
Time Out's film editor, Dave Calhoun, also opposed filming the project in 3-D. If you're spending time worrying about how to make Gatsby's hat poke out of the screen or Daisy's necklace float in front of your eyes, what else are you spending time not worrying about? Story? Dialogue? Pace? Acting? Character?
As the debate surrounding the trailer dies down, a few articles have defended Lurhmann's artistic choices. Since it's difficult to adequately judge a film based solely on a two-minute teaser, the quality of The Great Gatsby remains to be seen.