For months I have been looking forward to seeing Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby and the men’s style in the movie, which was designed by Catherine Martin and made by Brooks Brothers. This was only exacerbated when the release date was moved back from December 2012 to May 2013. Among other things, I could not have been more excited or supportive about DiCaprio playing Jay Gatsby. But after going to see The Great Gatsby last Thursday night I now see why it was moved back. The movie is shit now, was shit six months ago and will continue to be shit six years from now.
Not that this is a blog dedicated to movies and film in the least, but I think that I cannot discuss the men’s style in the movie without giving my thoughts on the film (spoiler alert forthcoming).
I high school we had to read The Great Gatsby, I liked the book then, I didn’t love it. I re-read the book a few months ago in anticipation Luhrmann’s adaptation. And perhaps this is where I went wrong, the book is too fresh on my mind and Luhrmann’s movie bastardized the book, one of the finest American novels. I long for the day someone does the book proper justice on screen.
I agree with Truman Capote who noted that the book reads like a screenplay. Nick Carraway’s telling of the story is ripe with description, detail and dialogue. Oh, and Nick was not in a mental institution, as he is in the movie. This is something that is revealed in the opening scene of the movie, I could not get over it for the rest of the movie, and I still can’t. The audacity…
And what followed was not much better. The soul of the book was largely stripped and pushed aside for a spectacle of pomp and circumstance fueled by computer graphics. The flying camera that would go from the tip of Gatsby’s finger in West Egg over East Egg was just awful. ‘Cheesy’ would be an adequate description. Much of the movie reminded me of the super ‘sprezzed’ out baffons who semi-annually parade outside Pitti and NYFW; I can’t stand those people. And I can’t stand Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
And as a further tragedy, the acting prowess of Leonardo DiCaprio was really only allowed to shine in one scene: the debacle at the Plaza hotel; the beginning of the end for Jay Gatsby. For the remainder of the film I thought he was overshadowed by much of the aforementioned ‘pomp and circumstance.’ Tobey Maguire was his typical self (I’m not knocking him, for the record), which I thought was fitting for the role of Nick Carraway. Carey Mulligan was more tolerable than Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan, thankfully. She played the part of torn-between-two-men-woman-child well. And Joel Edgerton (who I had never heard of before) had a decent performance as the entitled man-child Tom Buchanan. I was a bit irked that the character of Jordan Baker played a minimal role, however the actress playing her, Elizabeth Debicki, gave a strong performance. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Amitabh Bachchan’s memorable portrayal of Meyer Wolfsheim. But in the end, I felt each actor’s role was sadly diminished by Luhrmann’s directatorial peacockery. It is clear that he misunderstood the book. Much of the greatness of The Great Gatsby comes from the characters and their stories; not the parties, pomp and circumstance.
I am sure by this point you can imagine that I have nothing good to say about the music that was paired with the film. But in an effort to be fair, I think the music goes well with Luhrmann’s vision of 1920’s New York City and that is about it.
True, Luhrmann did create a fantasy world, I respect that. A solid creative achievement. I understand that his take on the book was not supposed to be the most conventional. I do appreciate that he kept much of the symbolism present; most notably the green lantern and Eckleburg’s eyes. Yes, the book tells of spectacles, pomp and circumstance but more importantly it tells a story of love, lust and longing. Of which is there is not enough of in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
So you may ask, what of the men’s style in The Great Gatsby? Well, Catherine Martin (Luhrmann’s wife, for the record) also took some creative liberties with things. One of the more striking examples was Gatsby’s midnight blue tuxedo, which I do not believe our beloved Duke of Windsor brought that onto the scene until a few years after The Great Gatsby takes place. Was Martin’s work consistent with the way Luhrmann portrayed the book? Yes. So things did not look out of place, which is a positive. If Martin was to do things exactly as they were in the 1920’s it would have looked out of place. And I can’t knock her for her husbands follies, she just had to play along with the movie as it was. And frankly, I look kinder upon her choices than I do Luhrmann’s. But still, Ralph Lauren’s dressing of the men in the 1974 version was better.
I applaud the selection of Brooks Brothers as the clothier for the men in the film. I cannot think of a better institution to take on such a task. Brooks Brothers is perhaps the only American clothier that was around then and still around now that is of a generally good reputation. Not to mention, they have the capacity to produce all of the garments here in the United States at the Southwick factory. The capsule collection the storied clothier released in conjunction with the movie is so-so. I find most of the articles to be true to what is worn in the film, which is how it should be.
But anyway, you can make your own assessments on both the movie and the men’s style in it. Below are a few pictures of the movie (I saw it in 3D so the images are quite blurry) as well as photos of the Brooks Brothers collection. The first two photos I took when I visited the store at 346 Madison. The patent leather/suede galoshes are some of the coolest shoes I have seen, a very unique take on a semi formal shoe.
Until next time, old sport,