The Great Gatsby VFX from Chris Godfrey on Vimeo.
This was supposed to be a quick update, but it got rather out of hand.
Anyway, on to the video. I love it; not only is it interesting in its own right, it’s quite interesting thematically as it gels so well with the myriad layers of deceit and illusion that make up The Great Gatsby.
(Just to warn you, there are Gatsby spoilers coming – if you can really spoil a book that is nearly 90 years old, that is.)
As you can see in the video, there is a mansion in the completed shots that isn’t there in the raw footage, having been added almost in its entirety in post-production. This is the home of Jay Gatsby, a reclusive millionaire who no one knows anything about. Significantly, it is also across the bay from the Buchanan house, where Daisy Buchanan lives with her husband, Tom.
As the story progresses, we discover that Jay Gatsby is actually James Gatz. Gatz and Daisy fell in love before he went to fight in World War I. When Gatz learns that Daisy has married Tom Buchanan, a man who oozes old money out of every pore, he invents the Gatsby persona in order to win Daisy back.
Gatsby throws lavish and wild parties night after night, always hoping to attract Daisy’s attention. Predictably enough, the parties are full of opportunists and hangers-on who have never actually met Gatsby – which isn’t all that surprising, considering he doesn’t really exist – and are just there for a good time and free booze.
Fake people at fake parties, thrown by a fake host.
The green screen effects take things a level deeper, albeit unintentionally. Fake people at fake parties, thrown by a fake host, in a fake house: like Gatsby himself, most of the house doesn’t really exist. In the movie version, even the illusions are illusions.
That might sound a little tautological, but trust me, it’s super deep.