Gatsby director Luhrmann: Criticism is like your child being smashed on the head with a lump of wood

Baz LuhrmannThe Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann has compared negative reviews of his films as being like hitting a child over the head with a lump of wood.

In an interview with Mumbrella’s sister title Encore, the film-maker suggested that critics will long be forgotten while the film is likely to have a more lasting life.

The film opens in Australia today.

Luhrmann said: “When Fitzgerald wrote the book, a guy whose name we can’t remember, the premium critic of the time, called Fitzgerald a clown and said the book was thin and that his characters were marionettes. I can’t remember the name of the critic but The Great Gatsby, that book sold more copies last week than in Fitzgerald’s entire lifetime,” he said.

When asked if he reads the reviews of his often polarising films, Luhrmann said he gives more weight to some than others. “Five English scholars from revered universities in the United States have weighed in to the argument and it’s very interesting to read what they have to say because they know a little bit about F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

After being read excerpts from a brutal review by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw – who described the film as “unthinking” and “heavy-handed” and suggested the director was “a man who can’t see a nuance without calling security for it to be thrown off his set” – Luhrmann said: “Maybe he’s the wittiest, funniest guy that everybody wants at dinner. I’m not sure, but that’s his opinion.”

“Its like you’ve worked for four years, all these people have given everything and your child’s off to school and someone takes a big lump of wood and smashes it on the head.”

Download Encore to see the full video interview.

Encore Issue 16This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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