Book vs Film Essay: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Directing a film is already a hard job but directing a film that is based on a novel is much harder. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ,”The Great Gatsby” is considered a literary classic by many and details the 1920’s life of Nick Carraway and how he came to know Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann brought the novel to life on the big screen back in 2013. While it conveys and shows viewers the plotline and story in a very dramatic and creative way, I feel that the director made some changes that changed the overall theme of the novel that Fitzgerald originally tried to convey. Through the sanatorium, character development throughout both, and the major themes of the novel however the film was excellent but with several flaws.

I feel with the film the sanatorium while changing the story somehow supports the theme that Fitzgerald originally tried to convey. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther….And one fine morning-” (Fitzgerald, 180). In this quote the future (dreams) is represented by the green light and the past. This quote shows that humans are unable to move forward from the past. It states in the quote that they move faster and stretch out their arms farther in hopes of getting that dream that is not obtainable (Gatsby’s dream). In the movie the director (Luhrmann) decides that Nick is in a sanatorium, with this quote we can see in the movie that he has not moved forward from the past.

 In the book Nick judges Tom and is a hypocrite; however in the film he follows what he says in the book and doesn’t judge Tom at all. “In consequence, I am inclined to reserve all judgements.” (Fitzgerald, 1). With this information we can see that Fitzgerald likes to contradict Nick’s statements to show that Nick is an unreliable narrator and a liar. The director of the film (Luhrmann) however changed this and didn’t have Nick judge Tom to make him seem more like a good person as he does in the book. 

I feel that since some of the things in the novel were changed in the film, the theme is changed because of how these things are changed. In the novel, Fitzgerald contradicts statements the characters make to prove a point and to show how they really are. However in the film the director, Luhrmann changed a few statements characters make to make it seem like they follow what they say to the audience. In the novel Nick makes a statement about how he has only been drunk twice in his life, “I’d been drunk just twice in my life and the second time was that afternoon.” (Fitzgerald, 29). Fitzgerald doesn’t mention Nick drinking at all in the rest of the novel, however it is implied and assumed by many. Luhrmann however has Nick getting home drunk and shows him drinking many times and even has Nick diagnosed with alcoholism at the sanitorium. With this I feel that the theme changes with how he’s getting drunk and basically changing what Fitzgerald originally wrote. 

In conclusion, Baz Luhrmann had several flaws with his direction of The Great Gatsby that included the sanatorium, character development, and theme. With this we can see how important each topic is to the original idea and theme of The Great Gatsby. Each topic ties into how you understand the novel as a whole. In my opinion as stated in the thesis statement the film was excellent but after looking at it deeper you can see how it differs from the novel and what Fitzgerald originally intended for it to mean.

 

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