Fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby can fondly recall experiencing the Jay Gatsby (Leonardo Dicaprio in the upcoming film adaptation) universe through the lens of Nick Carraway (this time played by Tobey Maguire). He guided us through the oppulence and eventual tragedy of Gatsby’s world, and in the film version, it’s going to be imperative that we don’t lose our trusty guide. But the way in which film adaptation director Baz Luhrmann includes Nick’s observations on screen may be a polarizing twist on top of the already controversial soundtrack and 3D technology decisions.
“[Nick] is ‘within and without,’ a watcher of and a participator in the story. In fact, in the novel, Fitzgerald very deftly alludes to the fact that Nick is writing a book about Jay Gatsby in the book, this fascinating character Nick met – ‘Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book’ – ‘Reading over what I have written so far…'” says Luhrmann in a new interview on Life and Times, emphasizing his commitment to the authenticity of his adaptation. But just how did he make sure to infuse Nick’s point of view?
He didn’t divulge it explicitly, but he did lend us a hand in using the process of elimination. “So Craig and I were looking for a way that we could show, rather than just have disembodied voiceover throughout the whole film, show Nick actually dealing with the writing, dealing with his experience of Gatsby, as he does in the novel. How we do really is the one big difference in the film. I won’t say how. I will let the audience discover that for themselves,” he says.
While there may be some grand technique we’re not privy to, Luhrmann’s tease leaves few conventional options for his take on the Fitzgerald novel, namely the rupturing of the fourth wall between the audience and the characters. From the context of his remarks, we could find ourselves being addressed by Nick directly throughout the film (though let’s hope it’s more Kevin Spacey in House of Cards than Zack Morris in Saved by The Bell).
It’s an interesting take on Nick’s storytelling technique, but it could rub some purists the wrong way as it’s not always the easiest task to pull off in a dramatic film.
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