The Great Gatsby Trailer…De-glitzed

30th May 2012

If you were around last week, you may have seen the Internet explode with news of The Great Gatsby trailer. Set to this music by Jay Z and Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean and this song by Jack White, most people were a bit skeptical, ok, a lot. Including this gal. However. The more I sat with this trailer and analyzed it for this post, the more it grew on me, including the songs to which it was set. Granted, seeing roaring 20s splashing on the screen along with the beats and funk of these songs was disconcerting, but here’s why I think the first at least was an interesting choice (besides gaining the attention of youth):

Here are some of the lyrics:

Human beings in a mob
What’s a mob to a king?
What’s a king to a god?
What’s a god to a non-believer?
Who don’t believe in anything?

Compare that to this quote from The Great Gatsby: “The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God – a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that – and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty.”

Someone is paying attention. You don’t get that song and that quote without knowing a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about the book. That, in and of itself, makes me a little more inclined to give this a nod.

Plus, if you take the song away and just look at these photos, it’s not half bad, especially when you check out some of the quotes I culled. DiCaprio and his accents annoy the hell out of me, but the glitz and glamor that first annoyed me so are actually part of the pull. The novel is most certainly a quiet novel (in my book), but the time period definitely is not. I think Baz Luhrmann (who damn! is kind of hot in his IMDB profile pic) uses the juxtaposition well.

“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”

“It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.”

“A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about.”

Complete with typo, here’s Times Square and “Zeigfield” Follies.

“Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent.”

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”

“the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.”

“I noticed that she wore her evening dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes – there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon a golf course on clean, crisp mornings.”

“Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.

“Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it…”

“The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun.”

“It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”

“She’s got an indiscreet voice,”I remarked. “It’s full of -” I hesitated.

“Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.

“He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.”

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life…”

“This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism!”

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further…”

“What was it up there in the song that seemed to be calling her back inside? What would happen now in the dim, incalculable hours?”

“It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”

“He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.”

“Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something – an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I heard somewhere a long time ago.”

He was “one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax.”

“I tried to think about Gatsby then for a moment, but he was already too far away.”

“It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.”

“They had never been closer in their month of love, nor communicated more profoundly with one another, than when…he touched the end of her fingers, gently, as though she were asleep.”

“At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”

“Then came the war, old sport. It was a great relief, and I tried very hard to die, but I seemed to bear an enchanted life.”

“I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.”

“So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight – watching over nothing.”

What say you? Does it help at all to have the distraction of music gone? Or, like me, does knowing the lyrics help you understand a bit why Luhrmann chose this tune? And, most importantly, does this make you at all eager for November? (I know, I know, another great film to look forward to, other than Skyfall.)

  • I love that you took the time to do this!! I know that there’s doubts galore, but The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favorites. I plan on rereading it before seeing the film.

    • I haven’t read it in years but always remember loving it, so I’ll be re-reading myself. Though when I was adding quotes, I kept stopping to read whole sections. Great stuff there.

  • Abookishaffair

    The trailer actually made me really excited to see the movie. I’m a huge Luhrman fan and an even bigger Gatsby fan. I think Luhrman is going to do well with his treatment of the classic novel.

    • Well, awesome! I’m glad you were a fan right out of the gate. I’m pretty excited to see it.

  • Andi

    I love every bit of it. What I adore about Luhrmann is that he can push the intricacies of a literary plot to a visual level one might never have imagined. The emotion oozes out of his film adaptations. While we as readers may experience those nuances and emotions from the words themselves, so many (my students) often cannot. Luhrmann can bring pure magic to literature with interpretation and adaptation. SO EXCITED.

    It’s Gatsby turned up to 11.

    • This is such a perfect commentary on what really great adaptations can do. Seriously. I couldn’t say it any better.

  • Yes! I am skeptical, but optimistic. Like you said, the book is very quiet, but the time is loud… I wonder how it’ll go, and am not sure I’ll like it, but I’m positive I’ll give it try.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only skeptic around these parts. 🙂 Like I said, the longer I looked at it, the more excited I became.

  • heidenkind

    The music didn’t bother me at all. I’m quite excited about this movie because it seems like Baz Luhrman really took the time to think about how to translate the movie into a film in a visually interesting way. And those stills are gorgeous.

    • I think a lot of people had a very visceral reaction to the music, but like I said, breaking it down, I was really intrigued by it. I’m more and more excited by it, especially after breaking it down like this. And I know! It will be visually stunning no matter what.

  • I reread this earlier this year because it was a book club choice but the reason they chose it was because of the movie. I thought that the trailer was visually very exciting, very Luhrman so I will be going to see it when it come out.

  • LOVE this post Jenn! I’m one of the few who loved this trailer at first glance (big big fan of Luhrmann) but I love how you’ve broken it down. I definitely think you’re right that the book is a quiet one in so many ways but in so many ways it isn’t. Plus I’m kind of hoping it gets the younger kids interested in reading GG. I know I’m wanting to pull it off my shelves again!

    • pickygirl

      I actually think a read along of it might just be in order. I’ve never hosted one before, so now may be the time.

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