January 14, 2011

The Ultra Supreme Gatsby: Baz Luhrmann to make 3D version of novel


At The New Yorker‘s Book Bench Meredith Blake reports that:

Australian director Baz Luhrmann told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that he was thinking of filming his upcoming adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” in 3-D.

Since the concept already sounds like an Onion headline, comic possibilities are obvious. Here are a few of the The Book Bench staff’s jokes about what we might expect from the film:

(Speaking of genre mashups, isn’t it a bit disorienting to see The New Yorker writing snarky blog commentary? Obviously, the magazine was founded on a tradition of humor… but somehow this post feels different. Even the talk of the staff getting together to quip seems somehow off to me. But I digress.)

In The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates sums up his sentiments of the Gatsby project: “Ugh.”

But Ross Douthat at The New York Times blog makes a surprisingly convincing argument that perhaps the project isn’t as inane as it sounds:

Maybe this kind of adaptation can’t be managed without trashing Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. Or worse, maybe Luhrmann will play it straight, producing a Long Island version of his turgid melodrama “Australia.” But I can imagine a “Gatsby” movie that would feature less of the man himself and his ambiguous motivations, and more of his over-the-top West Egg world; less of the mysterious Daisy Buchanan and more of party guests like “Clarence Endive … who came out only once, in white knickerbockers, and had a fight with the bum named Etty in the garden”; less of the green light at the end of the dock, and more of this:

By seven o’clock the orchestra has arrived, no thin five-piece affair, but a whole pitful of oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and cornets and piccolos, and low and high drums. The last swimmers have come in from the beach now and are dressing up-stairs; the cars from New York are parked five deep in the drive, and already the halls and salons and verandas are gaudy with primary colors, and hair shorn in strange new ways, and shawls beyond the dreams of Castile….Suddenly one of the gypsies, in trembling opal, seizes a cocktail out of the air, dumps it down for courage and, moving her hands like Frisco, dances out alone on the canvas platform. A momentary hush; the orchestra leader varies his rhythm obligingly for her, and there is a burst of chatter as the erroneous news goes around that she is Gilda Gray’s understudy from the FOLLIES. The party has begun.

I certainly believe faithfulness can be a false idol. (I think of this when I read endless Yelp reviews criticizing food for not being authentic.) What do you think? Unmitigated disaster? Or might actually be fun?