The film The Great Gatsby is based on the fictional novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was one of the major writers of “The Jazz Age” and the roaring twenties. It is set in the 1920’s, a time of economic success and new cultural styles. The novel is considered one of the greatest American novels ever written and has been made into a movie four times. The most recent version, made in 2011, was shot in 3D, with a running time of 143 minutes.
The main character is Jay Gatsby, a mysterious and wealthy man who lives in a Mansion. He lives next to Nick Carroway, the narrator, and Daisy and Tom Buchanon, who live across the lake. Gatsby is a self-made man in two ways. He has earned his own money and has also created a glamorous fictional persona. The conflict involves Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy, who he knew in his youth. He associates her with the kind of high society life he wants, and he has moved to East Egg to pursue her. Daisy is married to Tom, who is an arrogant, reckless and brutal man. Gatsby has been able to transform himself but there are some things he is unable to create, and Daisy comes from a different social background. Gatsby can never be like Tom no matter how much money he has. Gatsby throws extravagant parties and tries to seduce her, but he is unable to convince her to leave Tom and run away with him. Tom has the
background Gatsby insinuates has has by pretending to be an “Oxford Man”. He only went to Oxford for a short period after getting out of the military. Gatsby accidently runs over a poor local women and is murdered by her husband. Historical Accuracy
The Great Gatsby is relatively historical accurate, but there are obvious discrepancies. For example, there was no rap music in the 1920’s, but the director was associating rap music with the jazz music of the era. They are both one of the popular and new forms of music at the time. The movie tries to offer a realistic interpretation of the era, it’s not trying to be a perfect historical reenactment. The clothing, cars and homes seem authentic. I think the film offers a glimpse into what the time period looked like. However, it is highly stylized movie. I could not really recognize inaccuracies, but according to an expert “If you want historically accurate costumes, you'll be better served by PBS. If you want to understand the social and cultural meaning of clothes in the 1920s, then this movie delivers”(Clemente, 2014). I think this is a good explanation of the movie in general. It does not try to recreate the era too faithfully, but is trying to show the energy and social class consciousness of the time period. You have to go into this movie with realistic expectations. It is a 3d movie set in the 1920’s. The director Baz Luhrman also made “Moulin Rouge” which was set in 1900 and had Elton John songs in it. So The Great Gatsby is not striving for a completely realistic 1920’s landscape. However, the interpretation is solid and conveys the spirit of the book, and I think Fitzgerald would like it if he were alive today.
This version of The Great Gatsby is for pure entertainment and it has fashion, music, dance, a love story and lots of conflict. I think it appeals to an audience of almost any age, but anyone under thirteen might have a hard time even understanding the setting and themes. Middle school students can get their first introduction to Gatsby. It has some scenes that might not be appropriate for everyone, but it has shiny cinematography and the music will keep their attention. High school students might appreciate it more. They will understand the plot and some of the themes. Gatsby’s character is complex and you need to know some history to understand his obsession with Daisy. If you don’t understand the “roaring 1920’s” and pre-depression economics it would be difficult to analyze the film. College students would have an easier time, but if they try to just watch the film instead of reading the novel in an English class they are going to have a hard time. This film is not literature, it’s more like a music video.
The Great Gatsby is a very enjoyable and unique film. It shows an interesting historical period in a modern way that seems fresh. Some of the scenes were over-the-top and the film could have explored some of the issues a little more seriously. The film is about capitalism and materialism, but it does not really explore that much. Considering the book is serious literature I thought the film would cover the major themes and offer more for the audience to think about. Nevertheless, I give it five stars. It isn’t perfect and it’s not as serious as the novel, but it is not a literal representation. As a flashy modern interpretation is does a very good job. If the viewer wants to consider the themes more seriously, they can always read the book. 4 Bibliography
Clemente, Deirdre. "The Great Gatsby's Fabulous Betrayal of 1920s Fashion." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 08 May 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/05/-i-the-great-gatsby-i-s-fabulous-betrayal-of-1920s-fashion/275664/>.
The Great Gatsby. Warner Home Video, 2013. Film