You would think that a movie adaptation of a book as widely read as The Great Gatsby wouldn't really have a spoiler. Apparently, director Baz Luhrmann came up with one. In an interview with Jay-Z blog Life+Times, which we found via Indiewire, Luhrmann revealed that there is a twist that has to do with Nick Carraway, the book's narrator. Luhrmann explained:
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…” 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…
First-person narrators are always a hurdle for filmmakers. A literary convention that often makes a book feel personal, can often translate into lame voiceover so we understand the desire to toy with how to represent first person narrative on film. But then there's the danger that this change actually screws everything up.
Luhrmann has already done the tortured-artist-writing-about-his-past thing in Moulin Rouge, so there's the possibility he could go the same route for Nick. Not to say that Nick suddenly becomes all haggard and bohemian, but that we actually see an older (maybe old) Nick Carraway composing the story. Perhaps Luhrmann has invented some future life for Nick, who we know returns to the Midwest following the events of the book, that we now see on screen. Maybe he's returning to New York for the first time and reminiscing. Maybe Luhrmann decided to go ahead and depict Nick as gay?
Still, those solutions seem almost too easy and given how cagey Luhrmann is being about it we fear he's come up with something really bizarre. Even with this apparent change, more new posters for the film suggest that the film is still going to take all those symbols you learned back in high school and blow them up into 3D. Just look at J.T. Eckleburg's eyes. So once again we're left to wonder what the hell Luhrmann is doing here. Is he making a high school English-friendly reliable adaptation with a little Jay-Z thrown in? Or is he giving us an entirely new Gatsby we didn't know we needed and maybe don't?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.