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Will Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D ‘Great Gatsby’ Find New Intimacy in Film?

Will Baz Luhrmann's 3-D 'Great Gatsby' Find New Intimacy in Film?

When we learned that Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” was going to be shot in 3-D, we weren’t happy. Anne Thompson stated: “What’s happening is that filmmakers are trying to convince studios to back riskier films by offering to go 3-D, which brings premium ticket prices. Am I the only one who has more confidence in Scorsese making this work than Luhrmann? I wish they’d both call off the 3-D squad, now.”

Now, with the superb use of 3-D in Scorsese’s “Hugo,” a 3-D “Great Gatsby” might indeed been much safer in his hands (especially with his fave leading man Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role). The New York Times has posted a defense for Luhrmann and the film (due Christmas 2012). Warner Bros.’ distribution chief Dan Fellman says: “Everyone has strong, and generally opposing, opinions, when you mention 3-D, or ‘The Great Gatsby,’ or Baz Luhrmann.”

Exactly, so why play the slot machine? (It’s taking millions, not quarters.) There are high expectations laid out for “Gatsby,” which has farther to fall if it doesn’t meet them. We’re ready to root for it, but we also remember “Australia,” and all the 3-D pictures that are best forgotten.

If Luhrmann’s 3-D “Gatsby” succeeds, writes the NYT’s Michael Cieply, “it may open the door to a new generation of sophisticated movie dramas that will match the spectacle value” animation, action and “elaborate spectacle” films that make up Hollywood’s 3-D menu. It also has the potential to give the Oscar race what it’s missing: “the heat of a film that decisively breaks a barrier.” (Oscar’s 2012 frontrunner, “The Artist”–charming as it is–goes backward, not forward.)

Luhrmann tells the NYT that the special effect in “Gatsby” is “seeing fine actors in the prime of their acting careers tearing each other apart,” and says 3-D allows for a “new intimacy in film.”

While considering shooting “Gatsby” in 3-D, Luhrmann watched the 3-D version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Muder” (as Scorsese did). Watching it was like theater, he says. Fellman argues that the technique allows audiences to be “immersed in the lifestyle of Gatsby,” and “in his world, moving from room to room.” He and Luhrmann both think F. Scott Fitzgerald would approve.

RealD’s Michael Lewis refers to what Luhrmann is doing–essentially letting 3-D sit at the big kids’ table– as “the final stage in the maturing of the medium.” We will soon see.

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