E Gatz!!!

“Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”

“Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”

“The Great Gatsby,” Baz Luhrmann’s glitzy  film in 3-D arrives at a theater near you today, trailing enough PR and big-name tie-ins to fill  “that colossal affair” known as Gatsby’s mansion. Some critics have called it vulgar, but The New York Times is more charitable, labeling it “an eminently enjoyable movie,” that with its fantastical scenes mirrors Gatsby’s inauthentic character. I wouldn’t miss it.

We heard from the grumped-up booksellers, those purists who had no intention of peddling the “God-awful” newest edition of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, cloaked in  graphic black and gold  with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby front & center surrounded by assorted characters.

The newest edition of "The Great Gatsby" to tie-in with the film

The newest edition of “The Great Gatsby” to tie-in with the film

In 1925, when it was reviewed in The New York Times, Edwin Clark called the novel, “a curious book, a mystical, glamourous story of today.” And glamour is in no short supply in Gatsby’s  latest  star turn on the screen and off.

We could “experience the Gatsby Collection” at Brooks Brothers.  Many of the men’s costumes in the film were inspired by images and products from Brooks’s archives. And why not? Catherine Martin, the film’s costume designer, has noted that BB is mentioned in the novel and that Fitzgerald was even a customer of the men’s emporium.

A pink stripe linen jacket and matching trousers, $996, at Brooks Brothers

 The Savoy Headpiece at Tiffany & Co.

The Savoy Headpiece at Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co gave us “Jazz Age Glitter.”  The Savoy Headpiece, left, can be yours for $200,000.

Vogue splashed Carey Mulligan, the film’s Daisy Buchanan, on its cover this month and devoted 10 more pages inside to “The Greatest Gatsby.”

Carey Mulligan in "Vogue"

Carey Mulligan in “Vogue”

Women’s Wear Daily paraded the results of a shrewd collaboration between Catherine Martin and Miuccia Prada who got together to dress the Gatsby party gals.

These flappers are in frenzied form on the dance floor of Gatsby’s ballroom, jettisoned on by Jay-Z’s hip-hop infused soundtrack.

And what an appropriate  musical choice: Luhrmann has said that Jay (previously known as Shawn Carter) bonded with the novel’s Jay, who before cavorting on Long Island’s Gold Coast went by James Gatz.

 Gatsby's party girls beautifully rendered in "WWD" by the great fashion illustrator Steven Stipelman

Gatsby’s party girls beautifully rendered in “WWD” by the great fashion illustrator Steven Stipelman

As I soaked in all these things “Gatsby” 2013, I revisited the last “Gatsby” film. Made almost 40 years ago, it starred Robert Redford whom I had a hard time imagining as  Gatsby when I interviewed him for W two years before the film’s cameras began to roll.

"The Great Gatsby" then and now...Robert Redford as Gatsby in the 1974 film; being interviewed about the film two years earlier in his westernized Fifth Ave. apartment, complete with Kachina (Indian) dolls and sage bush; Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 version

“The Great Gatsby” then and now…Robert Redford as Gatsby in the 1974 film; being interviewed about the film two years earlier in his westernized Fifth Ave. apartment, complete with Kachina (Indian) dolls and sage bush; Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 version

One still wonders how enthused he was about the part. In his recent documentary, “All the President’s Men Revisted,” which looks back on that classic film about Watergate, Redford reminds us that the Watergate hearings were playing in real time while the actor was filming “Gatsby.” “I watched the hearings to keep from going mad,” he says.

About Daisy, the part which would be played by Mia Farrow, Redford noted how elusive a character she was  in the novel. “It’s hard to find Daisy. Not any one part of her is best. She has a quality to drive you mad.”

Will Mulligan drive film audiences wild as a believable  obsession that leads to Gatsby’s tragic demise? In the novel, we read how alone Gatsby was in death with a funeral practically as sparsely attended as Fitzgerald’s where even the pallbearers  needed to be hired. Now that’s tragic.

“A little before three the Lutheran minister arrived from Flushing, and I began to look involuntarily out the windows for other cars,” Nick Carraway tells us. “So did Gatsby’s father. And as the time passed and the servants came in and stood waiting in the hall, his eyes began to blink anxiously, and he spoke of the rain in a worried, uncertain way. The minister glanced several times at his watch, so I took him aside and asked him to wait for half an hour. But it wasn’t any use. Nobody came.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald's tombstone in Rockville, MD engraved with the final line of the novel

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tombstone in Rockville, MD engraved with the final line of the novel

3 thoughts on “E Gatz!!!

  1. Enjoyed this, Pamela. Do you remember when we read “Trimalchio” for book club? Made a huge impression on me, reading the unedited version of Gatsby. What fantastic writing… my high school reading didn’t have nearly the same impact. I really appreciate what you had to say about the book and Fitzgerald and Redford and the new movie and now especially want to see the latest version.

  2. Great post! I have been watching Carey Mulligan being interviewed on various late night talk shows (Stewart, Fallon, etc.) and her off-screen persona seems to be very “daisy-like”. I too, was weary of a new version of the story, but I appreciate that Baz Luhrman wanted to honor Fitzgerald’s desire for the most contemporary music, dress, presence, etc. of “the times” by employing Jay-Z’s tunes, 3-D, and loud cinematography…. hmmm… we will see….

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