Friday, September 12, 2014

The Great Gatsby (1974) review


   The classic novel has never seemed quite as shamed as I've seen it become in this sad attempt at a recreation. Even with the Luhrman version in mind, I have to say this failed to capture the magic the book gave and refuses to even acknowledge its presence. There were a few decently good scenes and performances in this movie, but they all fall like dominoes in succession with the rest of the movie's mediocrity, which tries so hard to succeed.

PLOT: Nick Carraway (Sam Waterston) lives in the western area of Long Island, referred to as West Egg due to the shape. Nick has a rich cousin on the eastern side of Long Island, referred to as East Egg, named Daisy (Mia Farrow), who's married to orderly man, Tom Buchanan (Bruce Dern). Nick also lives next door to one of the wealthiest gentleman on West Egg, Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford), whom Nick has never seen before. One day, Nick gets invited to one of Gatsby's wild parties where they finally meet. Through an anxious chain of events, Nick learns that Gatsby has had a crush on his cousin, Daisy, for years and wants to use Nick to meet her, having her cheat on Tom like Tom's cheating on her. Gatsby and Daisy hit it off eventually after they meet again, but good things never last, for a disturbing chain of events occurs in the end. The plot is excellent, as it is in the novel, but the execution is more than just sloppy. It's purely terrible. Not only does the director add scenes and remove important details from the source material, but he also tries to pass off the mistakes he adds as Fitzgerald's true writing. He smears blasphemy in the name of this great author.

ACTING: The performances in this movie are nearly hit-and-miss. There are a few really decent roles, but the majority of the performances in here were greatly miscast. Robert Redford was far from the right choice for Jay Gatsby. He performed the role with little to no emotion or interest added to it, as compared to his work in that of Jeremiah Johnson; Bruce Dern had this same problem as Tom Buchanan. Mia Farrow I also didn't think play the part of Daisy Buchanan very well. She played the part as a southern belle pretty well, but she overacted her role in general. The same was true of Karen Black who played as Myrtle, Tom's love interest. Sam Waterston actually did a decent job as Nick, but I don't find it as anything too memorable. The performances in here I seemed to enjoy most would be Lois Chiles as Jordan Baker and Roberts Blossom as Mr. Gatz, These two showed a fair amount of emotion and suitability for their parts. I actually wished Blossom would've had a bigger part in the movie, for he gave an effective performance.

SCORE: The score in here, aside from the show music used in the parties to show the era of time, was purely cheesy. The conductor of the score seemed to try so hard to make the themes sound nice and memorable and intense, but they didn't even enhance the scene. If anything, they made the movie seem very cheesy and of cheaper taste. I couldn't stand the score.

EDITING/CAMERA: The editing in this movie feels so much cheaper than it intends to be. The fades from scene to scene at times are greatly delayed and sloppy, but seemed as if they were trying to reveal some kind of inner meaning. The camerwork itself is greatly overdone and shaky. The close-ups are too close and the positions are too far off.

MISC. THOUGHTS: This movie adaptation of the famed novel by Fitzgerald falls flat on its face. It attempts to be a great film adaption of the book, but doesn't pull of the right moves to make it there. Leaving out so many important details and changing them to suit the director's wishes just shows lazy film-making, unless you attempt to do what Kubrick did with The Shining in transforming the movie into something way more than it was intended to be. However, there were some scenes in the movie that I even have to admit were done excellently, such as that of Gatsby's death scene at the pool. Everything in that scene was shot just ominously right that it actually started to come off as a great cinema moment. The flaws this movie has also almost make it the one thing Gatsby doesn't need to be: bland. Aside from the extreme flaws, this movie just succumbs into being a bland attempt at overall film-making.

   This Gatsby is not so great. This is by far not the film version the novel deserves. The execution is all messed up due to subtraction and addition of details, the performances are all miscast or overdone, the score is cheesy, the editing is terrible, and the whole thing just seems badly bland. However, there were a few shining stars and a few excellently done scenes that show the director had at least some kind of comprehension of what he was talking about.

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