We’ve known for some time Baz Luhrmann was planning on filming a new adaptation of The Great Gatsby, and that he’s been workshopping it in 3D with an eye towards possibly filming in the format. Regardless, it still makes one pause when news breaks that Lurhmann has sealed a deal for the film to shoot in Sydney, in 3D, for 17 weeks, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, with a production that will apparently pump $118m into the Australian economy.
The word comes from THR, with details about how the deal was brokered through negotiations with Warner Brothers (who are funding the film) and the New South Wales government, along with confirmation that Luhrmann will return to the Fox lots he used for Moulin Rouge and Australia. The article promises a huge production employing a massive crew and hundreds of extras, making it clear that this is no mid-budget prestige adaptation of Fitzgerald’s novel. To put it plainly- this is kind of a big deal.
Putting aside the irony of a huge-budgeted, opulent production behind an adaptation of Gatsby, it’s obvious Warner Brothers sees this as a high-profile property. The fame of the novel, the timeliness of its themes of nouveau riche decadence and hollow classism, along with what should be an interesting marketing challenge/opportunity of being among the first (if not the first) major period drama in 3D suggest The Great Gatsby could be a successful film. If Lurhmann nails the story and the photography is beautiful enough to warrant the presentation, it could be very successful, and something of a watershed release.
Leonardo DiCaprio has long been attached to play Gatsby (a role he could knock out of the park in his sleep), and while she doesn’t seem to have signed on the line that is dotted quite yet, Carey Mulligan is still very likely to play Daisy Buchanan. Luhrmann has categorically stated that Mulligan has the role, and she apparently burst into joyful tears on a red-carpet when she was called and offered the role, so “likely” may be a bit of an understatement. THR‘s article doesn’t mention Tobey Maguire, who has been associated with the lead role of Nick (played by Sam Waterston in the 1974 adaptation), and I’m kind of hoping this means there’s a chance the role will be filled elsewhom*. Don’t get me wrong, Maguire’s a talented actor- he’s just one of those screen presences that has never clicked with me for completely irrational, subjective reasons. Whoever does play Nick, they’ll need to be bring their A-Game when acting opposite of Leo in a role that seems like the natural conclusion to all of his work up until now. There have been hints of a Gatsby-like personality in many of Leo’s roles in the last decade, so I’m excited to see what he’ll bring to and how he’ll fit in Luhrmann’s view of 1920’s New York.
So how do you feel about a new adaptation of The Great Gatsby? Could this turn out to be something more than another piece of white people melancholia, and offer a worthwhile look at the modern decay of the American Dream through the lens of the 1920s? What value could shooting in 3D have for a this kind of story? Luhrmann has always had a flair for the theatrical, and any value the visual illusion of 3D possesses is actually in the quieter, more casually paced views and cuts of close-up drama, but will the format overwhelm the story? Will you give a period drama a shot in 3D?
I’m very interested in how people react to this film, and can’t wait for the production to get rolling and for images to emerge. Until then though, we can all sate our appetites for exploring prohibition-era wealth with Charley Hoey and crew’s NES-style Great Gatsby game (brought to my attention by my buddy Dan Reed). The fully playable 8-bit side-scroller is loaded with cute imagery and clever touches, and is worth a half-hour if you have any love for the novel. Check it out here, and make sure you give us your thoughts on the upcoming film in the comments or on the message boards.
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*Seek real words elsewhere.