November 16, 2011

The air is alive with chatter and laughter: Inside the garden party of The Great Gatsby

Pictures: Bill Hearne, Source: Daily Telegraph

F. Scott Fitzgerald dedicates page upon page to the descriptions of Jay Gatsby’s fun and frivolous parties. Chapter three opens with:

“There was music from my neighbour’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”

When Nick Carraway arrives at the party, he spends the better part of the evening trying to find his host. But it soon became curious that no one seemed to have ever laid eyes on him.

That is until, mid-way through the chapter, when Nick begins to converse with a man who just so happens to be Gatsby.

It was not long until the affable and polite young fellow was called away, and Nick observes him “standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another with approving eyes.”

It is this very scene that Baz Luhrmann was in the process of filming this week, when a paparazzo’s from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph was hiding in the bushes.

Leonardo DiCaprio cuts a fine figure standing on those stairs as “the fraternal hilarity increased” around him. So much so, that you would be close to forgiving Luhrmann for giving Gatsby more screen time than F. Scott Fitzgerald would have intended.

The Jay Gatsby of the book is a mystery. The masses of people that flock to his weekend soirees know nothing of him, except for the rumours that he was a German spy during the war and that he killed a man. All anyone knows for sure is that he is a man of considerable wealth who “gives large parties”, although he is himself largely unsociable.

I hope Luhrmann fights the urge to show-off his leading man too early. When fans of the book finally walk into the cinema in December 2012, we want to feel this air of mystery around the character. We want to be convinced of the possibility that Gatsby may not exist, until the very moment that he appears.

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  1. Did your keen eyes spot Tobey Maguire in the bottom left of the picture?

  2. I didn't know this movie was in production! Oh, I love all things "Gatsby." I'll be buying a ticket.

  3. Yes, it's filming right now in Sydney. I live in Sydney and we don't get big Hollywood productions here every day, so the local media are watching it very closely!