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The Great Gatsby

A novel written in 1925, by Francis. Scott Fitzgerald. Which later metamorphosed into a film directed by Baz Luhrmann in 2013. Both the movie, and the book have similar correspondences to each other. However, there are evident distinctions between both. The Great Gatsby tells a story based on the 1920s of America. Representing the drastic political and social change of the era. At a time where promiscuity, drugs, and parties were prevalent. The new ideologies that the people of this era had, allowed for this culture to thrive, people believed that as long as they had money, they could do whatever they wanted.

Both the book and the movie exposes the corruption of the American dream. The American Dream was initially to eradicate class division, and to make wealth equitable- A dream representing opportunity. However, the reality was quite different. The reality was that, a new wealth class “The New World Aristocrats” would come to rise, allowing them to achieve wealth and fame, sometimes through illegal means, for example, the Bootlegger (illegal alcohol production). All of this was delineated impeccably in both the movie and the book.

When differentiating between the book and the movie, one of the biggest issues is the depth. People say that books can cover the depth and detail that a movie, simply cannot, due to the length. I however, have to disagree with this. Baz Luhrmann certainty has made modifications to his movie compared to the book- this is expected, due to the length of the production, and, changing societal norms that have emerged throughout the difference in time periods between the book and the movie, 91 years apart which is a significant difference. (1922-2013)

Despite this, I believe that Baz Luhrmann has created a munificent piece of work, which is not only is it relevant to contemporary audiences, the aesthetic and entertainment values for, is portrayed better in the movie. The limitation of length has not affected the movies ability to show what America was like in the 1920s.

Not only will people say that the book bring much more depth, they will also claim that the novel has a certain value that the movie does not. However, I believe that this value is detracted from the novel if nobody wants to read it!

The novel simply does not appeal to the majority of contemporary audiences; other than students that are obligated to read it for English in school.

Let’s talk about characters. As mentioned previously, a movie simply does not have the length to empathize, and go into detail. Baz Luhrmann was not able to produce the characterization as the book could, this was expected as the movie has a limitation to its length. However, I believe that the development, and character representation in the movie is more than adequate, the in-depth characterization of the book is not necessary. Everything that was shown in the movie was sufficient to summarize Fitzgerald’s book, in a manner that would appeal, and show relevance to a contemporary audience.

Here is an analysis of a few differences between the characters in the book, and in the movie.

Let’s start with Nick Carraway. The novel has portrayed him as rather “boring”. The first difference here we will notice is that, the book says that, he has only been intoxicated twice in his life (Page 29). Although the movie does make a reference to this fact, Luhrmann has projected Nick to be severely alcoholic, the way he was portrayed in to movie, provided a different emphasis on his character, making Nick more appealing and “interesting to a contemporary audience.

Daisy: Whilst the book does not necessarily portray her in a positive manner. The movie however, portrays Daisy in a manner that will cause the audience to commiserate with her. Perhaps, the audiences who read the novel could not fully understand the love Gatsby had for Daisy, whereas Luhrmann wanted to further emphasize this.

Tom: Both the novel and the movie do not portray him in a positive manner. However, the movie had some differences, where the amount of sexism, abuse and the racism was removed from the production by Luhrmann, as I said before, Baz had made these decisions due to the societal changes since the release of the book.

Myrtle: The first difference is her appearance, although the changes are incremental, her description in the novel is slightly different in the movie. Again, this is mainly due the change in societies views on what “beauty” is classified as. Another change Baz Luhrmann has made is, Myrtle’s death, the novel portrays her death to be graphic, this change was also more to ensure that it is appropriate for contemporary audiences.

Lastly, Myer Wolfsheim. In the novel, he was portrayed as a “small, flat-nosed Jew” with an abundance of anti-Semitic remarks about his appearance. The movie however, portrayed him differently. This is because these anti-Semitic characterizations were acceptable during the time at which the book was published. The movie could not include this as the time has changed, and society no longer holds such views.

In regards to character development. The relationship between Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker is a great example of this. Evidently, the movie shows little development of romantic emotions between the two. However, the book on the other hand shows hints towards romantic development between Nick and Jordan, Page 58.” Her grey, sun-strained eyes stared straight ahead, but she had deliberately shifted our relations, and for a moment, I thought I loved her”.

Other than characters, one noticeable and controversial difference is the use of music. Upon the release of the movie, people had problems with the music adaptations Luhrmann had used. Fitzgerald had used Jazz music, to add an element of relevance to the time period. Luhrmann had done the exact same as Fitzgerald, although the music in the movie adaptation is not quite the same as the novel, the choice of music Luhrmann had used was more suitable for a contemporary audience.

Lastly, the conclusion of the movie gives a satisfying closure. In the novel, Gatsby had passed away in a predicament state, Page. 161. “No telephone message arrived” Gatsby had been waiting for the call from Daisy, however, it never came in the movie. Whereas the movie showed the phone ringing moments before Gatsby’s death, giving him the impression that there was still hope,

Freelance Writer

I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.

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