Baz Luhrmann directs The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel (musical)

The Scarlet Pimpernel

If I were friends with Baz Luhrmann, I would tell him for his next film, he should direct The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.

This melodramatic and wonderfully romantic novel, which was also written as a play, would be perfect for Baz. The novel is about romance, fashion, adventure and over blown situations and characters.

Don’t you dare cast Leo again Baz! I think Mathew Goode or Rupert Penry-Jones  should be the Scarlet Pimpernel and Marguerite, his wife, should be played by Marion Cotillard. James McAvoy could be Chauvelin. He’d have the perfect level of intensity.

When I was a teenager, The Scarlet Pimpernel was my favourite book – I couldn’t resist the romance. Sir Percy Blakeney, who disguises himself as the Scarlet Pimpernel, is an irresistible character. He seems all powerful like superman, broods like Mr Darcy, dresses as well as James Bond and has this carefree attitude to life that was dangerously charming to a 15 year old reader. I would trust Baz to bring The Scarlet Pimpernel to life in all its theatrical glory.

Baz Lurhmann was not the right person to direct The Great Gatsby. Fitzgeralds novel is subtle and full of ambiguity. Lurhmanns film completely trashes every hint of subtlety. Toby Maguire, as the narrator, explains away every ambiguous line and every symbol in the film. The film leaves nothing up to audience. I felt Lurhmann had taken the advice to heart that an English teacher might tell her students: “Assume the reader knows nothing.” The film assumes we know nothing and it also assumes that without visual and verbal explanations, we are unliky  to understand. Give us some credit.

I actually enjoyed Lurhmanns film – how could you not? It’s beautiful to watch, fun, exciting and vibrant. The acting was fantastic; Joel Edgerton was perfect. However this film just didn’t do justice to the novel. The novel made me think, or ponder, if I can use such a word. The film left me with a ringing headache.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helen Bang
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 10:58:24

    The rights to The Scarlet Pimpernel are owned by London Films until 2017 so no one can make an adaptation.


  2. Lucy O'Brien
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 04:34:16

    The Pimpernel is next on my list to read now – after all those years I stole your book and still never read it! Definitely up for some 15 year old dreaminess at the moment. Well put about Gatsby – so much fun to watch but so little of it actually resonated anything substantial. I didn’t even feel the tragic emptiness of Gatsby that’s so strong in the book, too distracted by all the sparkle! Have you read Shirley by Bronte? It’s a mission, but proving to be pretty interesting the more into it I get…


    • Clare Horsfall
      Jun 21, 2013 @ 01:10:46

      Well I suppose I better read Watership Down if you ever read the Scarlet Pimpernel!
      Is Shirely worth reading? I must admit I find the Bronte sisters a fairly depressing bunch to read. But I’ll give them another go I suppose.


  3. catholictwentysomething
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 09:09:21

    Totally agree! I adore Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and I thought Baz would completely ruin the book…but though he did trample on the book’s subtlety rather a lot, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. Headache aside, at least it was beautiful 😛 I thought Leo did a fantastic job as Gatsby, too!


  4. readingsomewhere
    Apr 02, 2016 @ 03:32:48

    Great point about Luhrmann. I would propose Hiddleston as Percy – he has the perfect mix of serious passion and floppish goofiness. Plus I believe he has expressed interest in the role.


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