Baz Luhrmann is a director whose images are sometimes more compelling than the movie he puts them in. That was certainly the case with his adaptation of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary masterpiece, and it seems even more so with this week's release of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray.
Leonardo DiCaprio is terrific as Jay Gatsby, a once-poor young man who has built a fortune. Tobey Maguire at times does well as Nick Carraway, who is befriended by Gatsby because he knows Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), a well-heeled wife who has a history with Gatsby.
Luhrmann lavishly presents the wealth and decadence of the pre- Depression '20s, but he also takes liberties with Fitzgerald's narrative and characters that do not improve them. In a commentary on the Blu-ray, Luhrmann argues that presenting the story as written on the page would take seven hours. But his movie, running close to 2½ hours, adds things that are not on the page while taking out elements that were crucial — at least to someone like me, who has read the novel many times.
Still, DiCaprio remains a standout. And the movie looks great; I have become jaded about the quality of high-definition TV until I look at something that is not in HD, and so seems wanting — or when I see a Blu-ray image as excellent as the one here. As I said, with Luhrmann, the pictures matter. And those, at least, are vividly presented.
Extras include many behind-the-scenes looks, a discussion of the music (Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter was an executive producer of the film) and deleted scenes. The deleted moments, each discussed by Luhrmann, include an alternate ending.
The Great Gatsby retails for $28.98 for DVD/digital set, $35.99 DVD/Blu-ray/digital, $44.95 for 3-D Blu-ray/standard Blu-ray/DVD/digital package.
These DVDs were released this week:
Films: Pain & Gain; Tyler Perry Presents Peeples; At Any Price; The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's; A Company Man; Damian Lewis Double Feature: Friends & Crocodiles and Much Ado About Nothing; Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder (five films by the New German Cinema filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Missions That Changed the War: Germany's Last Ace (two-disc, four-part Military Channel documentary); Online; Seattle Superstorm; 2nd Serve; Super Buddies; Hallmark Movie Channel double feature: Meddling Mom and The Sweeter Side of Life; two Scholastic Storybook Treasures: Children Make Terrible Pets ... and More Stories About Family and Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late ... and More Stories by Mo Willems.
TV series: The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season; Elementary: The First Season; Sons of Anarchy Season Five; Tales of the City: 20th Anniversary Edition (1993, two-disc set includes all six episodes of the Peabody Award-winning PBS miniseries based on the Armistead Maupin novel); Call Me Fitz: The Complete Third Season; Frank Riva: The Complete Series (2003-04).
THE WASHINGTON POST