In preparation for Warner Bros.’ 2013 release of “The Great Gatsby,” the Daily Bruin compiled a few of the most interesting aspects of Baz Luhrmann’s new film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel and how they match up with Jack Clayton’s 1974 adaptation. From Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio to the designs of Ralph Lauren and Prada, here’s what to look out for in Luhrmann’s take of Fitzgerald’s classic.
Sam Waterston v. Tobey Maguire
It is not what happens to Nick Carraway in “The Great Gatsby” that makes the character but rather what happens around him and how he observes the people surrounding him. In 1974, Sam Waterston gave Carraway a Golden Globe-nominated minimalist performance as the middleman between the 1920s and the modern-day audience.
Now it’s Tobey Maguire’s turn to give Carraway an identity, or perhaps better yet, strip Carraway of an identity. As an actor who is known for dramatic lead roles, Maguire must adapt to Luhrmann’s new Carraway, who tells the entire Gatsby story from a mental institution.
Robert Redford v. Leonardo DiCaprio
When Jay Gatsby made it on the big screen in 1974, Robert Redford gave a performance true to the book, as a collected man of wealth shrouded in mystery and lost love. As Gatsby, Redford is humble, understated and never exaggerated.
This time around, Gatsby will be played by Leonardo DiCaprio, known for his lead performance in Luhrmann’s, “Romeo + Juliet.” As big a star as Redford in his day, DiCaprio is known for commanding the spotlight in his roles. DiCaprio’s portrayal in trailers foreshadows a bold change from the Redford’s understated performance; DiCaprio’s Gatsby will be big, for better or for worse.
Ralph Lauren v. Prada
In 1974, Mia Farrow, who was pregnant at the time, became the iconic flapper in flowing dresses complete with fringes, gloves and beads. To capture the authenticity of the bluesy ’20s, head costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge partnered with designer Ralph Lauren. The film earned Aldredge an Oscar for best costume design and launched Lauren’s career.
In the new film, Catherine Martin and acclaimed designer Miuccia Prada sought to reinvent the fashions by adapting archived Prada dresses. While Martin hits all the fashion cliches of the ’20s, she also modernizes the look with bright colors, body-conscious silhouettes and intricate decorations.
Jazz v. Jay-Z
In Jack Clayton’s 1974 adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” the music stays true to its bluesy roots: Jazz pieces written by iconic composers such as W.C. Handy, a pioneer of blues music, and Irving Berlin portray the haughty sophistication of the social elite. Compiled by Nelson Riddle, the score also won an Academy Award for best original score.
Fast forward to 2013: Director Baz Luhrmann’s choice of rapper Jay-Z as producer of the current soundtrack shifts from the blues staples of the 1920s. With contemporary artists such as Beyoncé and will.i.am making musical appearances, the modern soundtrack pays an unconventional yet adequate tribute to the glamorous spirit of the 1920s.
While Clayton’s adaptation lacked the publicity of Luhrmann’s upcoming take, the 1974 “The Great Gatsby” had a mediocre budget of around $6.5 million but hauled four times that amount with box office totals reaching over $26 million.
Estimations have put Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” budget at over $100 million, which begs the question of how much the movie can take in at the box office. Sporting a budget that compares with that of “Iron Man 3,” behind a story more similar to those of romantic dramas, “The Great Gatsby” brings the grandeur of big-budget Hollywood to an iconic classic.
Clayton’s “The Great Gatsby” isn’t noted as a visceral excitement. Instead, the camera captures the softer, romanticized side of the story. With a glowing quality, settings are reminiscent of lazy summer days. Whenever the camera isn’t focused on the dreamy scenery, it zooms in to follow the characters’ dialogue with close-up face shots.
In Luhrmann’s adaptation, however, the party scenes offer a visual buffet of multicolored lights, bright costumes and 3-D texture. While the use of RED Epic cameras and 3ality rigging give depth to party scenes and wide shots, they don’t add anything to emotional scenes featuring a lot of intimate close-ups.