Friday, September 9, 2011

Adaptation Angst: The Great Gaffe-by?

Sometimes film adaptations of great and beloved books are so spot-on true to the spirit (even if not the letter) of the source material, that it makes the novel come alive for you in whole new ways (*cough* PJ's  Lord of the Rings). And other times, not so much. I'm looking at you, most movies made from Alan Moore graphic novels. It's enough to make you want to live in a magic cave under your house.

Adaptations-gone-wrong are particularly hard to take when the target is a book you love. That's why I'm more than a little concerned about the upcoming film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Now, I love me some Baz Luhrmann. This is one of my top-five favorite scenes in all of movie-dom.

BUT: Baz is known for his carnivalesque color-drenched spectacles celebrating romantic love. Basically, I'd hire Luhrmann to party-plan one of Gatsby's West Egg blow-outs, but The Great Gatsby isn't a (traditional) love story. It's a meditation on time, and loss, and the heart-breaking beauty of the very rich and poor trying to make a meaningful life out of the ash-heap of modernity. In other words, this ain't the Moulin Rouge. And I'm none too sure about Leonardo DiCaprio playing Gatsby, either.
Imagine him saying "old sport." Now go to your safe place.
IF MY LAST NAME WERE WEINSTEIN:I would hire P. T. Anderson, who knows a thing or two about making a moving and relevant film out of an anti-capitalist modernist novel. Hell, even Scorcese has proven he can hit the highs (The Age of Innocence) and lows (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, et. al., ad infinitum) of New York class strata. Plus, TGG's violence is more graphic than one would expect for a novel that includes an entire scene devoted to the synecdochal possibilities of new pink dress shirts. As for casting Gatz, Carroway, and the Buchanans, I'll leave that to Alisa, who is uncannily good at it.

P.S. Doesn't this adaptation sound rad? If I didn't loathe the term "bucket list," seeing this play would be on mine.

1 comment:

  1. At least the Blake Lively as Daisy rumor didn't come true.