When all the hoopla about Leonardo DiCaprio adapting the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, The Great Gatsby into a movie was relevant, It did not dawn on me that they may have been another. I was under the impression for some reason that the novel was impossible to adapt, which is what made Leo’s Gatsby a huge deal.
I recently I saw the 1970s adaption of the novel, and a downfall for Leo’s Gatsby (Which I did see first) was Robert Redford played Gatsby in this 1974 version.
Robert Redford is the perfect movie star, beautiful talented flawless. The type of character you want to see on the screen.
Between Leo and Redford:
I noticed I felt the desperation more with Redford’s version of Jay Gatsby, I believe more in that man’s love for a women he can’t seem to get with. With Leo I believed more in the con, that from the moment Nick Carraway met Jay Gatsby, Gatsby was up to something. Literally both Gatsbys moved the world to get with Daisy Buchanan, but I think in Leo I saw more of a man trying to be something he’s not while I saw in Redford a man trying to win over a woman.
Redford’s Gatsby expressed far clearly a greater evil among the wealthy. It never seems to let me forget that this is a party I’m not invited too. Leo’s party was more welcoming (Which I find ironic because in a world living with knowledge of the one percent, you think they would want to exploit that). The whole thing is more glamorous, The cars seem faster, The parties, they seem livelier(Does not hurt that the movie takes artistic leaps by layering over the party with a hip hop beat).
Speaking of Hip Hop Beats, I guess technically Redford’s Gatsby sort of wins in production design due mostly to accuracy. Both version take us to that time and place with great detail to sets and costumes and landscapes, but Leo’s Gatsby over exaggerates every thing. It does work like an artist abstract painting (Or a really expensive rap video). Maybe it’s a tie between both.
The character of Nick Carraway was better in Leo’s Gatsby than it was in Redford’s.
Redford’s Gatsby has Nick being played slightly distant, most likely feeling like a man who does not belong in that world and is invited only to observe. Law & Order’s Sam Waterston plays that part well, but The connection Nick is making with Gatsby is not that strong.
Leo and Tobey McGuire, have been the best of friends since they started their careers together more than twenty five years ago. That friendship carries over well in the movie. It’s like the movie was design for it (Cause it was). Nick spent the beginning of the film in pure wonder of his next store neighbor, then when they first meet it was like love at first sight.
Leo’s Gatsby had a Nick that was more believable as the narrator of Gatsby’s story, a definite selling point.
Redford’s Gatsby has a great selling point too: Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan. Even when Dern was playing the protagonist in the Sci-fi film, Silent Running he still felt like an ass-hole.
From the moment his Tom comes on the screen, I did not like this guy at all. You just wanted him to loose. He’s the type of rich jerk off, you want to beat the crap out of.
Joel Edgerton for me was more of a selfish prick, which fits into Tom Buchanan’s role in society more. He was raised in a world that made him think he was better than everyone else. While Dern was clearly the worse that any society has to offer (Or may be his portrayal was honestly what inherently wealthy white people think of “inferior races”), either way Dern wanted you to hate him and it works.
Leo’s Gatsby does have a better cast of females than Redford’s. Karen Black was a pretty well known actress that her role as Myrtle Wilson could have been better, but Mia Farrow was far bigger and out of all of the female parts, Daisy Buchanann was center stage, which makes perfect since in her relationship with Gatsby in Redford’s version, but Leo’s Gatsby seem more able to accommodate Carey Mulligan’s major role as Daisy and yet make you interested in Myrtle Wilson played by Isla Fisher as well as Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker.
Overall, both movies are really on the same level. Each one has something the other one does not have, and I think most importantly, they both are close enough in story that it makes me think that both are real accurate adaptions of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, which makes me want to read it to find out.