Baz and Gatz

So, I was watching a version of Northanger Abbey the other night.  I actually quite enjoyed it, I rarely enjoy Austen adaptations if I have already read the book first. I guess in this case there has been enough distance between reading the book and seeing this adaptation.  Anyway, the reason it got me to write this is because it featured Carey Mulligan as Isabella Thorpe.  Carey Mulligan is attractive and did well in the role, however, this film confirmed to me that as attractive as Mulligan is, she is no Daisy.

Yes, it seems that Baz Luhrmann has cast Ms Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan in his film adaptation of The Great Gatsby.  Luhrmann is one of my favourite filmmakers and as a fellow Australian, a bit of a hero.  A lot of people have some beef with him and there are a lot of homo-phobes who are scared to like him but all of them share one thing in common, deep down they know he is one of the truly unique filmmakers going around.

I only find that he has one significant flaw, and that is his casting.  I have liked Nicole Kidman's work at times, but I often found the chemistry between her, Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman in their respective Luhrmann collaborations hard to believe.   However, those films are so steeped in "old-timey" dramatics that intimate chemistry between the lead characters is almost irrelevant.  It seems strange to me then that he would cast the diminutive Mulligan in such an iconic role.

The role of Daisy Buchanan is more than just a character, she is an image in the mind of Gatsby that represents perfection, the ultimate aspiration, a reason for being.  Why then would you cast a woman, that while being the new "It" actress on the scene, has gained that attention for having the perfect "girl-next-door" qualities.  Daisy is by no means "the girl next door".  She is the exact opposite.  I am concerned they have cast her purely based on hype.

Hype has won over sense yet again.  Yet, when you ask most people about how hype is affecting production of Luhrmann's next film, I bet you most people will complain that it is being filmed in 3D.  Why make a period film in 3D? They will ask.

I think quite the opposite, if there is one filmmaker who should rightfully be shooting in 3D, it is Luhrmann.  Have you seen Moulin Rouge or Strictly Ballroom on the big screen?  They are amazing, It almost felt 3D just from his dramatic use of the camera, costume, art design and choreography.  Imagine how he could capture Gatsby's wild 1920s parties shooting in real 3D?  It could very well be a wild ride and he will put you in the driving seat.

So no, hype has driven the casting of Mulligan, not the choice of 3D.  Let's just hope that Carey Mulligan can live up to the hype and has the acting chops to make us believe that she is the image of unobtainable womanly perfection.

P.S.  The other annoying thing, which is almost laughable, is the number of mainstream media outlets claiming that this is a "re-make" of 1974's "The Great Gatsby" directed by Jack Clayton.  Umm... no, The Great Gatsby is a novel, how someone claiming to be a journalist would not know this is beyond me.  It has been adapted for the screen 4 times before, twice before the 1974 version.  Francis Ford Coppola has had nothing to do with Luhrmann's version.

P. P. S.  Hayley Atwell is rumoured to have been cast as Jordan Baker. Coincidentally, Atwell plays Ms Crawford in the 2007 adaptation of Mansfield Park which I also watched as part of my Austen binge.  Surprisingly, I think Atwell could well be perfect as Ms Baker.  Ms Crawford and Ms Baker are quite similar characters when you think about it, and Atwell played Mary Crawford well. If you want a preview of what Ms Atwell will look like in 1920s garb, you can get a preview by checking her out in the 2008 adaptation of Brideshead Revisited playing Julia.


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