Baz Luhrmann’s rehashing of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic American masterpiece The Great Gatsby is a slight improvement over the 1974 iteration with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. By this, I mean that it has ascended one rung of the film-quality ladder by becoming likably cheap razzmatazz instead of eye-reddening ennui. It’s hard not to enjoy it, much as one might enjoy sucking on a lollipop or lying on a tropical beach in the moonlight and staring blankly at the stars. But what a shame that a film about a novel of such depth and complexity—with an underlying message that’s as intriguingly shadowy and oneiric as the eponymous character—should suffocate meaning beneath gyrating flesh and party confetti.
Swedish cinema is sometimes considered synonymous with the films of Ingmar Bergman, but even a genius must have his influences. In the beginning, there was Victor Sjöström’s eerie landmark silent film The Phantom Carriage, which elevated early horror to new heights of surrealistic complexity.