Lurhmann told Life+Times that a straight adaptation of the story would clock in somewhere around seven hours, so he and co-writer Craig Pearce combed through Fitzgerald's prose to choose the scenes they felt would best "reveal the book" and trim the running time down to a more manageable two hours. The story is told through the narration of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who Lurhmann said is "a watcher of and a participator in the story," and the filmmakers wanted to put a unique spin on his role.
"Fitzgerald very deftly alludes to the fact that Nick is writing a book about Jay Gatsby in the book," Lurhmann said. "So Craig and I were looking for a way that we could, rather than just have disembodied voiceover throughout the whole film, show Nick actually dealing with the writing, dealing with his experience of Gatsby, as he does in the novel. How we do really is the one big difference in the film. I won't say how. I will let the audience discover that for themselves."
Those comments are pretty cryptic and certainly allow the imagination to run wild about just what, exactly, Lurhmann has planned for Nick.
This isn't the first time a character in one of Lurhmann's films has been a writer; Ewan McGregor played Christian, the penniless wannabe-poet in love with Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge." "Gatsby" could very well follow a trajectory similar to that film, which opens with McGregor sitting at a typewriter, writing the story of how he met Kidman's Satine, then flashes back to show their courtship. The movie periodically cuts back to McGregor at his typewriter, reminding us that he's telling us the story we're watching; maybe in "Gatsby," Nick can be seen taking notes in the corner and later sitting at his own typewriter in between bits of action.
Another scenario could have the camera close in on Nick's face, then cut to his perspective, so moviegoers are watching the film through his eyes. That way, audiences would still get to hear him interacting with others, and he's still telling us the story without literal narration.
Or, since Lurhmann took so many liberties with the film's music, perhaps Nick can join in with Jay-Z on certain tracks, rapping about what's happening in a given scene. Considering the number of parties the main characters attend, there'd be no shortage of opportunities to break into song. (If the image of Maguire hopping up on a stage and grabbing a mic is too odd, then maybe his vocals can just serve as the soundtrack to certain scenes.)
Whatever the twist may be, "Gatsby" is sure to be a lavish, eye-popping production. The curtain opens on May 10.
[via Life+Times h/t Cinemablend]