Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby is a confusing beast. The first question inspired by the second major modern theatrical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic: Is it so bad that it was pushed out of last year's Oscar race and back to this May? Or, as the more recent trailers have maybe started to suggest: Is it just more of a not-that-bad summer blockbuster? Now, we've seen the infamous "green light" in some of those rocking trailers as well, but it was all drenched in Moulin Rouge-esque spectacle. So here's a perplexing situation brought to our attention by new character posters released as part of Gatsby's latest marketing blitz: Is this going to be all anachronistic music and fantastical set pieces, or just some instructional tool for high-school English classes?
Take for instance, the poster of Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, with that little green light as prominent in the background as it was metaphorically splendid on Fitzgerald's final page. Entertainment Weekly writer Hillary Busis points out that this poster is so heavy on the symbolism that might have been drilled into your brain the first time you read Gatsby. It is, in her words, "Co-starring the verdant glow that taught you what symbolism is."
If you happen to have forgotten, the green light from Daisy's dock symbolizes Gatsby's wish to obtain her and, you know, the American Dream.
Then there's the new Daisy poster. Carey Mulligan's Daisy is ensconced in a shroud of white flowers, evoking both her name and the color with which she is frequently associated.
Note also in the character portrait for Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan's mistress, the gray background as a reference to Fitzgerald's Valley of Ashes.
Also note the foreshadow-y yellow roadster behind her.
So it seems like, despite all the Jay-Z and Kanye and Jack White on the airwaves, the film actually might hit viewers over the head with all the symbols we've come to expect from Gatsby. Does that make it perfect fodder for day-before-spring-break viewing for weary English teachers? Or will all of the Luhrmann-iness just simply dominate? We'll get first word from the masses just before opening night in Cannes where it is the main event.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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