The Great Gatsby has contributed plenty of vivid images to the American literary canon. We have the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg; not to mention the green light beaming from Daisy Buchanan’s dock; and of course, the many lavish parties thrown at Gatsby’s West Egg estate. And all these images will soon find new life in an unexpected, albeit enticing form: animation. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that the film company DNEG will produce an animated feature adapted from the iconic novel.
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The project’s director William Joyce is a decorated children’s book author and illustrator. His The Guardians of Childhood and The Man in the Moon ultimately spawned the film Rise of the Guardians; Joyce worked on the film as a producer. In the film world, he cut his teeth designing characters for early Pixar entries Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. As for the script, that comes from Brian Selznick, author of the much beloved book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Foremost a computer animation company, DNEG has worked on numerous Marvel and DC movies, as well as Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.
To date, The Great Gatsby has taken form onscreen a number of times. The earliest of these adaptations came in 1926, though you’d be hard-pressed to find this lost film today. Beyond its two famed—if not universally beloved—movies, Gatsby has given way to a number of other adaptations. Gatsby has found life in TV movies, stage productions, and even an opera. Over the years, many great actors have brought the iconic title character to life; Alan Ladd, Kirk Douglas, Robert Montgomery, Robert Ryan, Robert Redford, Jerry Hadley, Toby Stephens, and Leonardo DiCaprio. (And Paul Rudd once played Nick!)
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An idea like this will no doubt raise a few eyebrows; even live-action adaptations of iconic novels usually incur skepticism. But the fantastical air of Gatsby’s story might well suit the medium of animation. In addition to the above images, the book boasts a slew of rich, larger-than-life characters. Personalities like Tom Buchanan, Jordan Baker, Myrtle Wilson, and Meyer Wolfsheim practically beg for animated form.
Though F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is nearly 100 years old, it maintains a stronghold on English classes in American high schools. Perhaps this is simply our academic institution’s fear of change, or maybe it’s proof of the book’s lasting relevance. (Or it could just be the necessity of teaching cautionary tales about life on Long Island.) Whatever the reason, Gatsby maintains a place in modern American artistic culture. Thus, it seems worth exploring in one of this generation’s favorite forms.