4 classic books that deserve the Baz Luhrmann treatment


With Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby adaptation releasing tomorrow in all of its big, loud, and (most likely) stupid glory. I figure it’d be a good time to go through a list of books that would benefit from the same Luhrmann treatment. Sure most of these have made the jump to the silver screen a few times, but as we’ve learned lately, Hollywood is reaching that cyclical point it always does. 

What do I mean by the Luhrmann treatment? I want these beloved stories to be gaudy, full of showmanship, and slightly genius. I’m tired of reading these stories the same way. They are way overdue for their dose of grandiose stupidity. 

Moby Dick (by Herman Melville)

The Story: Written by Herman Melville in 1851, Moby Dick is a story of a man gripped by revenge. Ishmael, a passenger on a ship commanded by Captain Ahab, witnesses Ahab’s descent into madness as Ahab is consumed by his desire to hunt down the elusive white whale (which he’s dubbed “Moby Dick”) since it bites off his leg and destroyed his previous ship. 

The Lurhmann Treatment: Backed by a Pink cover of En Vogue’s “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It),” Bradley Cooper’s Ishmael has to decide whether or not to accept his drinking problem as he witnesses a full makeup version of Leonardo DiCaprio yell out of his bedroom window as he stares at a garden fountain with a whale’s visage. The two then work together to free themselves from their Detox Clinic until their eventual escape coupled with an arranged orchestration of Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” who re-record it as a slowed down A-Capella for the film. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (by Mark Twain)

The Story: Huck Finn escapes from his abusive father and journeys down the Mississippi River with his good friend Jim. The two get into all sorts of shenanigans as they strengthen their friendship despite coming to grips with race troubles, greedy con men, and Huck’s own youth. 

The Luhrmann Treatment: Huck is now older (so he can be played by Leonardo DiCaprio), travels with Jamie Foxx and the two become friends of a similar age. There are lots of panning shots over a river, and in fact, 75 percent of the film is nothing but montages of water coupled with a slowed down, depressing rendition of “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s. As the end of the film draws near, Jamie Foxx’s Jim starts singing Toto’s “Africa” A-Capella because race relations. DiCaprio’s Huck eventually joins in as the screen slowly fades to black as the two sing the lyric, “It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you, there’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.”

Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus (by Mary Shelley)

The Story: Victor Frankenstein creates a monstrous being in one of his ego-inspired experiments. Feeling guilty for giving a hideous looking creature life, Victor goes on a journey of self discovery and isolation. The creature, sad that his father rejected him, then goes out in search for Victor, making sure to kill each one of Frankenstein’s loved ones in the process. 

The Luhrmann Treatment: The credits open to Victor (Leonardo DiCaprio) tinkering with an experiment. A whisper of Meg and Dia’s “Monster” is heard in the background. The creature (played by John Leguizamo) slowly comes to life and speaks in nothing but quotes from famous Shakespeare plays. As Leguizamo’s creature murders Victor’s wife Elizabeth (Leonardo DiCaprio in a wig) he states, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” After Victor and the creature have one final battle at the North Pole, Leguizamo walks off into the distance humming Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted” to himself. 

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)

The Story: Alonso Quijano, a nobleman, reads plenty of stories about knights in heroic adventures. Inspired by those stories of daring do, he becomes the knight “Don Quixote” and starts to imagine his boring world as slightly more colorful (turning his windmills into giants, getting himself into all sorts imaginary trouble). He also brings along his chunky and naive neighbor, Sancho Panza to be his squire. 

The Luhrmann Treatment: Alonso (a tanned Leonardo DiCaprio wearing a cut out Benicio del Toro paper mask) and his pal Sancho (John Leguizamo wearing a cut out Benecio del Toro mask in his best Spanish accent) run to fight the largest giant, a motion captured Leonardo DiCaprio, but are stopped by modern day audiences. The film then takes on such a meta-narrative it collapses in on itself as Alonso begins talking straight to the audience and asks them to join him in singing the Gilligan’s Island theme song.

The screen fades to black as the song reaches its end and the entire theater yells, “HERE ON GILLIGAN’S ISLLLLEEEEEEEE!”

These four books were just waiting for the Luhrmann touch, so now I’m sure there are more out there. What do you think should be the next Luhrmann adaptation? Leave your story here in the comments!

[header via ~leventep]