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Greatness of the Gatsby and the Prohibition May 22 2013

Last night, I went to see to “The Great Gatsby” in 3D.  I have heard of the book and the original film made in 1974 with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow (I still can’t believe she was once married to Woody Allen!) but I had neither seen the film all the way through nor read the book at all.

The story takes you to New York during the roaring 1920s when America saw Prohibition and the stock market boom.  It is a love story or rather a love triangle between the mysterious Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), the delectable debutante Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her incredibly rich but unfaithful husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton).  It begins with a young Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) coming to New York to seek his fortune.  Carraway moves into a bungalow in West Egg an area for the newly rich on Long Island next to the huge mansion, chateau, palace, whichever it is MASSIVE, of Jay Gatsby. 

Gatsby throws parties for all and sundry to come to his house without invitation in hope to entice a particular someone but only Carraway seems to get an invite.  Carraway is Daisy’s cousin.  Are you getting the picture?

People are only interested in Gatsby for what he can do and give them but Carraway wants nothing from him but his friendship.  Carraway helps Gatsby to a “chance” meeting with Daisy and Gatsby wants to rekindle the love that was once between them.  Daisy loves Gatsby but as Gatsby discovers, he has money but he doesn't have the name or position or social power that her husband can offer.

The story also shows you a little of how America dealt with the Prohibition during the 1920s with its organised crime and corrupt constituencies.  Prohibition came into effect 16 January 1920 until 05 December 1933.  It was never illegal to drink alcohol but the Prohibition restricted the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages.  With no businesses able to sell alcohol, an increase in organised crime became rapid as the supply and demand for alcohol became more and more.  Infact, the Prohibition saw people drinking alcohol more than ever before, probably with the thrill of the thought of breaking the law and never knowing when alcohol was next going to be available.  Underground drinking dens began popping up everywhere.  These were called “Speakeasies”.  Speakeasies were so called because you would had to talk quietly or whisper the password in order to gain entry or give some kind of secret handshake.

Beautiful window display celebrating the Gatsby at Tiffany's New York (sorry it's not very good but this was the best I could take through the window!)

Although the film was set in the “Jazz Age”, there was music including Beyoncé and Andre 3000's cover of Amy Winehouse's, "Black to Black" Lana Del Ray's, "Young and Beautiful" and Florence + the Machine's, "Over the Love."  I read that Director Baz Luhrmann wanted to represent music in the film with the “Hip-Hop Age” because the author of "The Great Gatsby", F Scott Fitzgerald made lots of references to contemporary music of that era and Luhrmann wanted today’s viewers to feel the impact of modern day music the way Fitzgerald did for the readers of his novel at the time of its publication in 1925.

Speakeasies were a major contributor to the development of jazz music. With so many speakeasies springing up everywhere, they needed something different in order to draw more patrons.  Jazz musicians suddenly found a demand for their craft and speakeasy patrons embraced this new style of music.

I loved all the glitz and glamour the film brought to the Silver screen.  I really liked the soundtrack too.  The clothes were absolutely fabulous for both the men and women, the dresses having been made by Prada and Miu Miu...  But I did find Leonardo Di Carprio a little stiff in the film, his “preppy” accent somewhat inconsistent but I’m not entirely sure if that is how his accent is meant to be because of his character.  I don’t want to say too much here because I don’t want to give the film away.  I was also disappointed with Isla Fisher’s first appearance in the film as the good time girl Myrtle Wilson coming down the steps to greet Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan, I wasn’t sure if she was meant to be Australian or American.  She was meant to be American and her accent did get better as the film went on.  I know I’m being picky but come on, if you’re an actress and you’re doing an accent at least get it right from the off set!

People I know who have seen the film love it but reviewers don’t seem so charmed by it.  So I will let you make your own mind up whether or not to see it but I personally really enjoyed the film and I might now even go out and buy the book!

Looking cool in our 3D Glasses!