Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The Great Gatsby to open Cannes. Who knew?

As many had predicted, Baz Luhrmann’s version of the classic novel — starring Leo DiCaprio as the unreliable protagonist — is set to launch the world’s greatest film festival in May.

Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 12:55


Addressing what must be the worst kept secret since Elton John came out, the Cannes authorities have confirmed that Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is to open the festival on May 15th. Last summer, pundits were taken aback when Warners announced that Mr Lurmann’s take on the imperishable F Scott Fitzgerald novel would not open in Oscar season after all. Upon hearing that it was due for mid May, the Cannistas immediately marked it down as the opening film for the festival. Mr Luhrmann has form. Moulin Rouge! premiered at the event and went on to create a storm in camp circles everywhere.

“It is a great honour for all those who have worked on The Great Gatsby to open the Cannes film festival,” Luhrmann babbled. “We are thrilled to return to a country, place and festival that has always been so close to our hearts, not only because my first film, Strictly Ballroom, was screened there 21 years ago, but also because F Scott Fitzgerald wrote some of the most poignant and beautiful passages of his extraordinary novel just a short distance away at a villa outside St Raphael.”

Some confusion does, however, still hang around the release strategy. The film is currently due to open in France on the day of its Cannes debut. There is nothing too unusual about that. Recent opening films Robin Hood and Moonlight Kingdom were already playing down the road at the Nice Ritzy (or whatever) while crowds were gathering outside the Palais. What is less usual — though not entirely unheard of — is that the film is currently due to open in the US a week before its appearance in the south of France. Warners still have time to shift it forward. But we are, by that stage, already into the pre-summer period. Remove one card from the house and you risk pulling down the entire construction. It would, however, put a real damper on things if the film had opened in the US and the reviews were less than laudatory.

Who knows? We will tell you all in two months. Till then, we will beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. And so on.