The other big talking point of Luhrmann’s interpretation is the soundtrack. The score is predictable and forgettable of course, but it is the contemporary stuff that draws comment. I find little to criticise. Luhrmann seamlessly blended in modern music with , so he has a good track record: is more of the same. The mixing of hip-hop tracks with the Jazz of the Jazz Age is carried out really well, and the excess and privilege associated with the modern rap/hip-hop genre is suited to the activities being portrayed onscreen in . Some individual songs are also extremely memorable, not least Lana Del Ray’s haunting “Young and Beautiful” as a theme for Gatsby and Daisy. As with the visual side of things, I think the complaints over anachronistic music are largely unfounded. I suppose some might view it as a distraction from the words and story of Fitzgerald, but I prefer to think of them merely as an accompaniment.
But I felt that Luhrmann perhaps should have been a bit more liberal with the editing room knife. Parts of drags interminably, especially the final act, with the entire sequence based around the revealing of Gatsby and Daisy’s affair seeming to last forever and ever. The key to adaptation is the ability to take what is necessary to change a written story into a compelling and entertaining one in film, while having the confidence and the commitment to cut out the stuff that is no longer required. You could argue that, given that her scenes and role of most importance were largely cut anyway, that Baker could have been disposed off entirely. You could argue that the aforementioned revealing scene could have started out in the plaza, something that would have severely helped with its lethargy issues. You could argue that the party scenes, those garish spectacles that have been set up as such a key part of Gatsby’s attraction, could have been reduced.
Gatsby and Daisy by SteakandUnicorns on deviantART
I liked Maguire’s depiction of Nick’s closing cynicism and his general man crush on Gatsby, but ultimately this story isn’t being carried by him. The lack of that key Baker sub-plot badly affects the character’s development in his own right (his closing self-summation of his own lack of honesty and honour is, with Baker, missing), and Maguire is left trying to pick up the pieces of a fractured narrative. At times you just wonder why Nick is even there, especially after he is overtaken as the main focus of the production by Gatsby and Daisy. He makes Nick sympathetic; probably the most sympathetic character in the whole affair, but that might be more to do with all the other characters.