Students react to 'The Great Gatsby'


(Source: Warner Bros.) The Great Gatsby was released May 1, 2013
(Source: Warner Bros.) “The Great Gatsby” was released May 1, 2013.

Sexuality, intrigue and riotous parties were prominent in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic, “The Great Gatsby.” Baz Luhrmann, a notable director of films such as “Moulin Rouge” and “Romeo + Juliet,” took on the challenge of creating a film adaptation of one of America’s classics. The movie starred Leonardo DiCaprio as the mysterious Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as the naive Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan as the alluring Daisy Buchanan, who, under the direction of Luhrmann, delivered one of the most discussed movies of the year.

While the movie attracted a wide variety of audiences, students found unique perspectives from their areas of study within the film.

The music of the era was one of the most iconic in American history, eventually being dubbed “the roaring ’20s” as a colloquial nickname. Derek Myler, a music student at Weber State University, said he felt the music enhanced the storytelling and setting.

“The presence of modern ‘party music’ definitely contributed to the feeling of freedom and levity associated with the Jazz Age,” he said. “. . . At first I wasn’t convinced by Luhrmann’s choice of using such modern music in the film. I heard beforehand about Jay-Z and other hip-hop artists playing a big role in the score, and I was a little apprehensive about how that would gel. But it actually synced perfectly with Luhrmann’s odd style.”

Myler praised Lurhmann’s bold direction, saying the style was fitting for the era.

“The strength of the film was in the acting and the quirky directorial choices,” he said. “Baz Luhrmann’s extreme stylization of the story definitely gave the film the roaring, irresponsible feel of the 1920s.”

Though Luhrmann’s stylization was popular with many, some felt the purity of the story was lost in his interpretation. Joshua Nelson, a double major in English and history, would beg to differ.

“Some people have called the movie too over-the-top, too extravagant,” Nelson said. “They say that Luhrmann has missed the social nuances given by Fitzgerald in his pursuit of extravagance. I say that if there is criticism, it lies in Nick’s narration. We need to remember he is looking back and idolizing his friend, Gatsby. Of course firework explosions would coincide with the climax of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ — Nick is meeting the legend that is Gatsby.”
Nelson said it captured the most interesting parts of the book, the unreliability of Nick’s narration and the hope of a new generation.
“The film’s greatest strength is hard to pick,” he said. “There’s so many to choose from: the acting, the wardrobe, the over-saturation of color that produced an extremely stylized and false reality, the music. Basically put, Baz Luhrmann is a genius.”

This film has already been nominated for a total of six awards at the Teen Choice Awards and the Golden Trailer Awards, but only time will tell if any bigger awards will come Gatsby’s way. Professional reviews of the film have been mixed. Critical consensus site Rotten Tomatoes shows critics split right down the middle in their opinions, with an overall score of 50 percent for the movie.

More information about the movie is available at its official website,