life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gatsby Redux

I had some time to kill today, so I downloaded the 1974 version of "The Great Gatsby".  So now I gave a real basis for comparison.

Interesting how two directors had such very different visions. 

The 1974 movie is a misty, sentimental romance.  It's beautiful to look at, with its Gold Coast mansions and elegant costumes.  The decadence, the conspicuous consumption, the lavishness, that seems to be missing.  The green light on the dock, so symbolic of Gatsby's longing for Daisy, is almost an afterthought.  The music . . .well, the music is contemporary to the story line, all from the 1920's, but it's all popular ballads and instrumentals with lots of weepy violins.  No jazz, not even during the wild party scenes.

The disparity between "old money" and noveau riche is downplayed.  Redford's Gatsby is suave and sophisticated and confident.  You'd never suspect he was a poor boy from the midwest, the Oxford manners and mannerisms seem natural, not an affectation.  He was clearly miscast.

Daisy's position as the mother of a little girl, downplayed in the current film, is emphasized in the 1974 movie.  Her ultimate betrayal of Gatsby is simply not there.  There's just some vague talk of her leaving Tom.

Similarly, the pivotal scenes involving the car accident and Tom's conversation with the bereaved Wilson actually take place off camera.  We are deprived of the emotional impact.

Bottom line?

Leonardo DeCaprio is a better Gatsby, and the 2013 film is a better film.

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