We’re still on the cusp of summer movie madness, with The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman yet to berth in the nation’s multiplexes, but already it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, at least on the Internet.
This week, Warner Bros. dropped the first of what promises to be a fizzy flood of trailers for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, scheduled for a late-December release.
It’s Hollywood’s fourth stab at bringing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel of longing, deceit and regret to the big screen – a novel that critics in 1998 voted the second greatest work of English-language fiction in the 20th century but whose Jazz Age charms thus far have been better enjoyed on the page than on celluloid.
If Luhrmann’s take joins these ranks, it won’t be for lack of ambition. Or budget. The trailer, all two minutes and 27 seconds of it, certainly looks like a few million bucks, uber-stylish in a hot-wired, CGI-enriched Art Deco-meets-Marvel way, with Leonardo DiCaprio back in matinee-idol mode after the “detours” of J. Edgar and Shutter Island.
Indeed, based on the trailer, the film, which was shot in 3D, appears very much of a piece with Romeo+Juliet and Moulin Rouge, Luhrmann’s previous hypertrophied forays into doomed romances of days past. The conceit even extends to his musical choices: There’s no King Porter Stomp or The Sheik of Araby anywhere on the trailer; instead, it’s orchestrated to a soundtrack of Jay-Z and Kanye’s No Church in the Wild and the bombast of U2’s Love is Blindness, asperformed by Jack White.
These flourishes could end up as just so much meretricious trend-mongering. Then again, one thing that may prove to be on Luhrmann’s side is timeliness. Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, after all, was an anatomy of his generation’s 1 per cent, a tale of dubious fortunes won and lost, of powerful people, he wrote, who “smashed up things and creatures and then retreated into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Oddly enough, Luhrmann’s over-the-top might seem very much in-the-pocket.