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Jack Clayton est surtout connu pour son film (Les chemins de la haute-ville -1959) qui permit à Simone Signoret d'obtenir un Oscar à Hollywood.
Peu prolifique comme réalisateur, Clayton entreprit, avec Francis Ford Coppola pour scénariste, de filmer la vie tapageuse du héros de F. Scott Fitzgerald. Pour celà il fit appel à deux immenses stars : Robert Redford, au sommet de sa splendeur physique, et Mia Farrow, qui sortait de personnages quelque peu "perturbés" (Rosemary's baby, de Polanski, et Terreur aveugle, de Richard Fleischer, notamment -1968 et 1971). Le film reçut 2 oscars (costumes et musique) mais ne connut pas le succès escompté.
Et franchement, c'est bien dommage. Car l'atmosphère est splendide, parfaitement restituée. Il n'est que d'entendre Daisy (Mia Farrow) s'écrier, en larmes "Les filles riches n'épousent pas les garçons pauvres" devant un Gatsby médusé, pour saisir tout le malentendu d'une société qui n'a pas grand chose à envier à la nôtre. Gatsby et Daisy s'aimaient, autrefois, mais Gatsby a dû partir à l'armée et Daisy a préféré épouser un prétendant de son rang, Tom Buchanan, un homme riche et grossier qui lui a assuré un train de vie de grand luxe, même s'il la trompe ouvertement avec la femme d'un simple garagiste.
Gatsby, de retour de l'armée, a tout fait pour devenir riche à son tour afin de reconquérir Daisy. Il croit fermement, en la retrouvant, qu'elle divorcera de son mari puisqu'il peut désormais lui donner ce à quoi elle est habituée. Il se trompe lourdement, et le drame qui en découlera ne fera qu'accentuer cette hypocrisie des relations entre différentes classes sociales.
Mais ce film est aussi l'occasion de retrouver un acteur exceptionnel, Scott Wilson (le garagiste) qui est surtout connu pour son rôle d'assassin dans "De sang froid" de Richard Brooks (1967) mais également dans le terrible "Pas d'orchidées pour Miss Blandish" (The Grissom Gang) de Robert Aldrich (1971) où, dans une scène culte il demande à sa mère d'aller foutre une raclée à la petite fille riche qu'ils ont enlevée parce qu'elle se refuse à lui et, pour bien lui faire comprendre à quel point il est "tendu", il agite devant elle une canette de bière qui finit par lâcher brusquement son jet de mousse....
The Great Gatsby est donc un film à redécouvrir, non seulement parce qu'il est beau et bien interprété, mais aussi parce qu'il repose intelligemment toutes les questions essentielles sur les rapports humains (Tom, le mari de Daisy, est ouvertement raciste et élitiste) qui sont toujours d'actualité.
le 3 janvier 2015
THE GREAT GATSBY  [Blu-ray] [US Import] Ravishingly, Richly Beautiful From Start To Finish! Gone Is The Romance That Was So Divine!
The '20s never roared louder than in this sumptuously romantic retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age classic. Robert Redford stars as Jay Gatsby, who had once loved beautiful, spoiled Daisy Buchanan [Mia Farrow], then lost her to a rich boy. But now Jay Gatsby is mysteriously wealthy... and ready to woo Daisy back. ‘The Great Gatsby’ features a fine supporting cast and an elegant screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola. And at its centre is the opulent evocation of an era of hot jazz and cold champagne, of women as exotic and demanding as hothouse flowers, and of lives made soft by too much, too soon.
FILM FACT: The film won two Academy Awards® for Best Costume Design for Theoni V. Aldredge. Best Music for Nelson Riddle. It also won three BAFTA Awards for Best Art Direction for John Box. Best Cinematography for Douglas Slocombe. Best Costume Design for Theoni V. Aldredge. The male costumes were executed by Ralph Lauren, and the female costumes by Barbara Matera. It won a Golden Globe® Awards for Best Supporting Actress for Karen Black. It received three further nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Bruce Dern and Sam Waterston. Most Promising Newcomer for Sam Waterston. The Rosecliff and Marble House mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, were used for Jay Gatsby's house while scenes at the Buchanans' home were filmed at the Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. One driving scene was shot in Windsor Great Park, England. Other scenes were filmed in New York City and Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
Cast: Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern, Sam Waterston, Karen Black, Scott Wilson, Lois Chiles, Edward Herrmann, Howard Da Silva, Roberts Blossom, Edward Herrmann, Elliott Sullivan, Arthur Hughes, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Beth Porter, Paul Tamarin, John Devlin, Patsy Kensit, Marjorie Wildes, Blain Fairman, Bob Sherman, Norman Chancer, Regina Baff, Janet Arters, Louise Arters and Sammy Smith
Director: Jack Clayton
Producer: David Merrick
Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola and F. Scott Fitzgerald (novel)
Composer: Nelson Riddle
Composer: Nelson Riddle
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Running Time: 144 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘The Great Gatsby’ is one of those books frequently described as un-filmable, and Jack Clayton's version is a good example of a film that captures the letter of a great novel while missing its spirit. Scott F. Fitzgerald's careful poetry is visited here only in snippets of voiceover narration. The structure of the book is well-observed, and its characters impersonated by good actors. Unfortunately, the likely response to the show at the fade-out is still going to be, "Maybe I should read the book someday." Jack Clayton's ‘The Great Gatsby’  is a fascinating remnant of two explosive periods, like the The Roaring Twenties and the late 1960s and early 1970s, an era when even a prestige production at an old studio like Paramount Pictures, could criticise the fecklessness and excesses of America's upper crust. Jack Clayton and his collaborators found no visual parallel for the suppleness of Scott F. Fitzgerald's prose, and ended up over-relying on voiceover narration. A peerless novel and a look at the post visceral and poetic evocation of the self-creation at the heart of the American Dream that became a film that is intelligent, opulent, and colourful opulence.
Paramount Pictures lavish production was its biggest offering for 1974, and one that fell flat at the box office. Scott F. Fitzgerald wrote about the wealthy, superficial class of a bygone age, and all the period decor and costumes don't make them any more accessible to our emotions. Robert Redford and Mia Farrow are perfectly cast in many ways; yet the static, interior tone of much of the tale prevents either the romance or the drama from coming alive.
Well-bred, but relatively poor Nick Carroway [Sam Waterston] summers on Long Island, and becomes embroiled in the romantic problems between his mysterious neighbour Jay Gatsby [Robert Redford] and the Buchanans across the bay, and faithful to the letter of F. Scott Fitzgerald's beloved novel about a penniless American Dreamer who goes from World War I heroism to a gangster’s life style just to amass enough wealth to win back a high-society Louisville girl, the film was criticised, with good reason for its erratic pacing, elusive core and emotional distance. Unfolding within the expensive confines of Long Island estates and Manhattan hotels and eateries (the real locations were in Newport, Rhode Island, with studio work done at Pinewood, in Buckinghamshire, England), and Daisy Buchanan [Mia Farrow]. Tom Buchanan [Bruce Dern] is carrying on with Myrtle [Karen Black], the wife of garage mechanic George Wilson [Scott Wilson]. Jay Gatsby uses both Nick Carraway and Buchanan’s friend Jordan Baker [Lois Chiles] to reintroduce himself into Daisy Buchanan's life and Nick Carraway and Daisy Buchanan were a couple during the war, but she didn't wait for him. Now Jay Gatsby has bought a mansion and holds lavish parties just to be near Daisy and dream about winning her back.
It's complete and faithful, but ‘The Great Gatsby’ just doesn't catch fire. Francis Ford Coppola's screenplay has the same adaptation feel as his much earlier This Property is condemned, right down to the literal transposition of the novel's symbolism. Scott F. Fitzgerald's giant eyeglasses on the billboard are indeed the eyes of God staring at George Wilson's miserable gas station in the middle of a wasteland. You'd think that the Long Island rich would beautify the roadway going to their luxurious neighbourhoods, and what works as a literary conceit in the book just seems too literal here.
The same goes for Scott F. Fitzgerald's portrait of the vast wealth of the Long Island rich. The females are appropriately vain and superficial like Daisy Buchanan, and the men bigoted snobs like her husband Tom. On the page we might interpret the opinion of narrator Nick Carraway, but films can't express opinions. These people are exactly what they are, living lives remote from reality and indulging their private fantasies. Francis Ford Coppola can't help but make Jay Gatsby's possible links to the underworld plainly obvious. Even if no proof is offered, we see Jay Gatsby associate with dapper Howard Da Silva, 'the man who fixed the 1919 World Series', and assume there's a crooked connection. We see Jay Gatsby's gun-toting bodyguard. We hear Jay Gatsby's evasions about his income and his past. If Nick Carraway doesn't draw conclusions, we certainly do.
If anything, Nick is too soft on Jay Gatsby, who awkwardly uses both socialite Jordan Baker and 'poor neighbour' Nick Carraway to facilitate his affair with Daisy Buchanan. Robert Redford plays the reclusive millionaire the only way he can be played, mysteriously. Robert Redford does perfectly well. It's just that when Scott F. Fitzgerald's elusive character becomes an image on film, he stops making sense. The Jay Gatsby we see is an incurable romantic who stares off across the ocean hoping to recapture a dream. Yet he's also meant to be the kind of man who could amass a huge fortune in three years in business, the kind of profits never reported in the papers. We could imagine an older Jay Gatsby softening and trying to recover a lost past, but this man is young. We spend over two hours hearing about his romantic obsession for Daisy Buchanan, but we don't feel it. Jay Gatsby does so very little ... even the heavy dramatic scenes are mostly static. Yes, obsession makes one blind, but it's no fun watching Jay Gatsby catch up with things we see right away. Daisy Buchanan's a thoughtless narcissist who isn't going to let anything inconvenient interrupt her lifestyle; she lives in a fantasy world perfectly happy to do without the lost love of her youth. In real life, people don't always 'make sense.' In a film, it's hard to respect or even understand a character like Jay Gatsby. He's a character meant for the printed page.
‘The Great Gatsby’ is a multi-levelled reverie of a bygone age, with the amiable Nick Carraway providing our advent into an affluent, alien world. He's the author's representative, the fly on the wall and the spokesman for Scott F. Fitzgerald's sentiments. In the film, he's almost an obstruction. Nick Carraway's discreet presence in the famous scene where Jay Gatsby shows Daisy Buchanan his collection of shirts is almost laughable; as the two lovers wax ecstatic over the joy of haberdashery, Nick is moved to tears and exits as if from a sacred reunion. When Scott F. Fitzgerald tells us that the atmosphere was charged with an inexpressible joy we accept it, but on screen we look for harder evidence. When Daisy Buchanan runs her hand down sensuously down a long line of brass gelatine moulds in Jay Gatsby's kitchen, finally reaching Jay Gatsby's hand, we're seeing the limitations of literal film.
Producer David Merrick lined up a top cast who do remarkably good work under Jack Clayton's ponderous direction. Bruce Dern is solid, but we don't associate him with this kind of character and keep expecting him to revert to psycho mode. That's a shame, but it's true ... the few scenes we see of Bruce Dern as a likeable nice guy in ‘Black Sunday’ make us wish he'd never been cast as a heavy. The losers played by Karen Black and Scott Wilson are almost the only people in the film who don't regularly dress in evening wear. Since we know perfectly well that the story won't show them any mercy, we're not surprised when the Buchanan’s utterly destroy them. Poor Ms. Karen Black has so little screen time, we don't even sympathize with her and she's as embarrassing to us as she is to Tom Buchanan. Gorgeous Lois Chiles, later Roger Moore's playmate in ‘Moonraker’ lacks depth; we thoroughly believe Nick Carraway wouldn't become interested in her, and not just because she's too rich and he's too poor.
‘The Great Gatsby’ is awash in production values that don't achieve the desired illusion of the past. The costumes and cars are photographed so so, that they look just like what they are, especially the costumes and collector's automobiles. The same year we had the film ‘Chinatown’ which effortlessly established its depression era with a fraction of the trimmings. ‘The Great Gatsby’ doesn't have a feel for its period as such, even if the hairstyles are for once fairly accurate. Most of the songs we hear are lyrics that are still familiar 80 years later; ‘The Night They Raided Minsky's’ uses an unknown Victrola tunes here and there immediately transport us to 1925. I'm told that the score is the original and I have been read that the original score hasn't been heard on video versions. The parties on Jay Gatsby's lawn are like a nostalgic magazine layout and there's an element beyond the visuals that is slightly and sadly missing.
When you watch ‘The Great Gatsby’ for its isolated pleasures, for its suggestions of what might have been, and as an artefact of an era when studios took enormous risks. In that way, it becomes an experience worthy of F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. As he wrote in the book's knockout last line, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘The Great Gatsby’ is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p encoded image transfer and in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Director Jack Clayton and cinematographer Douglas Slocombe favour a lot of diffuse light and even occasional soft focus lenses throughout this film, which some may mistake for a so-called "soft" looking transfer. This is actually a lustrously beautiful high definition presentation that very ably recreates the original film appearance. Grain is still very much in evidence, and fine detail is abundant, helped immeasurably by Jack Clayton's favouring of extreme close-ups throughout the film. Colours are very accurate looking and it is such a pleasure to watch a film that hasn't been colour graded to within an inch of its life and very well saturated. There are some very minor stability issues, which are almost not really worth mentioning.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘The Great Gatsby’ features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that doesn't over aggressively repurpose things for a surround mix, and in fact plays things relatively conservatively. I was in fact kind of surprised in the opening credits how the "ghost music" was anchored in the front channels rather than being discretely splayed through the surrounds. Later, however, in the first of the big party scenes, Nelson Riddle's source cues are clearly pumping out of the rear channels while the party sounds emanate from the front and side channels, giving a nice sense of aural depth. Dialogue is almost always front and centre, but is clear and easy to hear and uniformly well prioritised in the mix. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range has a few spikes in the more crowded sequences.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: Unfortunately, the Blu-ray disc doesn't feature any form of supplements to perk up the release, as I am sure there are hidden in some vault is loads of behind-the-scene look at the making of the film, or even interviews with the main actors. At the very least, this Blu-ray offering provides subtitle options in English SDH, Spanish, and French.
Finally, on the surface, ‘The Great Gatsby’ shines as a stately adaptation of its source novel. However, it focuses too much on the impeccable visuals that the pacing readily suffers early on in the story. It offers plenty of show, but it doesn't dig deep the way Scott F. Fitzgerald's original material cloaks his social criticism within his involving tale. Like the characters, this cinematic rendition reveals a shallow and self-absorbed demeanour that lacks dramatic momentum. In any case, it is worth checking out for its good points and its attachment to a great American classic. Despite a lot of negative criticism of this film, I personally love this particular version, as I felt it gave the flavour of what America was like in The Roaring Twenties period of time and I was so pleased when I saw it was going to be released and now I am also very pleased it has gone pride of place in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom