The Great Gatsby Movie _TOP_
Gatsby has had four film adaptations, with two especially big-budget, well-known movies: the 1974 version starring Robert Redford and the 2013 film with Leonardo DiCaprio. There was also a silent film adaptation made in 1926, just one year after the novel came out, but that film has been lost, with only a one-minute trailer that survives to attest to its existence.
The Great Gatsby Movie
Some elements of the film adaptations have strongly influenced people's vision and understanding of the novel, but there isn't one "best" Great Gatsby movie or one best Great Gatsby cast, or even one movie that has fully captured the spirit of the novel. (Compare this with To Kill a Mockingbird, which has just one major film adaptation that many consider not only worthy of the book, but also to be one of the best movies of all time.)
Great performances. Although spread across the four different movies, each of the main characters in Gatsby gets at least one stellar performance, from Alan Ladd's Jay Gatsby to Sam Waterston's Nick Carraway to Elizabeth Debicki's Jordan. Watching the actors bring these characters to life can help you appreciate these characters' best lines, motivations, and outcomes. This can, in turn, help you write better essays about The Great Gatsby!
Appreciation of the key lines. When you're reading a book to yourself, sometimes you may find yourself skimming over a line or passage that actually contains a really important piece of dialogue or characterization. Watching a movie adaptation, and hearing the lines the screenwriter chose to adapt and highlight, can help you catch and appreciate some of Gatsby's most iconic phrases.
Especially with the incredibly busy schedules many students have these days, it could be hard to find the time to devote two and a half hours to watching a Gatsby movie, on top of the time it takes to read the book.
Obviously, no movie can perfectly adapt a book, so everything from small details (like Daisy's hair color) to large plot events (like Tom blatantly telling George that Gatsby is the killer in the 2013 film) can be changed. This could be a problem if you mix up a scene that occurred only in one of the movies with something from the book when working on an assignment.
The potential issue with this is that if you watch just one movie, and skip the book, you could totally miss a larger theme that the book clearly shows, like the false hope of the American Dream, contentious race relations in the 1920s, or the inability to truly recapture the past. In short, make sure you understand that while a movie has to focus on just one or two themes to be coherent, a book can present many more, and you definitely have to read Gatsby to understand the various themes it touches on.
The first big adaptation of The Great Gatsby came in 1949, just as the book was becoming more popular (but before it had really settled in as classic American novel). So this movie, made by Paramount Pictures, is not very high budget and mainly relies on the star power of Alan Ladd as Gatsby to sell the film.
Perhaps the studio was right to lean on Ladd, because it turns out that Ladd's performance is the main aspect of this adaptation worth watching. He brings an incredibly layered performance of Gatsby in a performance that's, unfortunately, much better than the movie around him.
Basically, this film is worth finding if you want an excellent visualization of Gatsby himself but aren't as worried about the surrounding production or other characters and/or you like old movies and film noir. But for most students, one of the later adaptations will likely be a better choice.
Despite these blips, Coppola's screenplay is much more loyal to the book's plot than the 1949 version. However, the movie fails to channel the energy and passion of the novel, and so can fall flat or even become dull.
Sam Waterston is great as Nick Carraway. He captures a lot of Nick's naïveté and optimism, but isn't given as much to do as more recent versions of the character. Mia Farrow's portrayal of Daisy has become our culture's image of this character, despite her blonde hair and waifish figure. (In the book, Daisy is described as having dark hair, and was meant to resemble Ginevra King and Zelda Sayre).
All in all, this is a mostly faithful adaptation of the book with beautiful sets, costumes, and some good performances. Especially compared to the more raucous 2013 version, this is probably the closest movie we have to a page-to-screen adaptation of Gatsby. The downside is that it's somewhat low energy, and lacks a lot of the zip and wit of the novel.
This movie is decently accurate, but because of its shorter run time, there are some cuts to the plot. It also has a few odd additions, like Daisy coming up with the name "Gatsby" instead of Gatsby himself.
I would consider watching this if you want a film mostly accurate to the book that also moves along more quickly, since it has a shorter run time. It's also a good choice if you want to see some great characterizations of Nick and Daisy.
This one is likely the Gatsby movie you are most familiar with. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, this Gatsby has the eye-popping visuals, dancing scenes, high energy and big production values his movies are known for. In other words, this 2013 adaptation has all of the energy and enthusiasm the previous two adaptations were lacking.
A lot of the imagery is also quite over the top. For example, the scene in Chapter 1 where Daisy and Jordan are introduced, lying in white dresses while white curtains blow around them, is faithfully but subtly done in the 1974 and 2000 films. But in the Luhrmann movie, the CGI curtains stretch all the way across the room, and we get 15 seconds of Daisy and Jordan giggling while Tobey Maguire's Nick looks on, bemused.
One increasingly popular assignment on The Great Gatsby is to compare the book with one of the movie adaptations. This can be a fun assignment to work on, since you get to write about both the book and a movie version of Gatsby. But some students struggle with it, since it can be tricky to incorporate an analysis of both the book and a movie into your paper.
Have an overall argument or point you're trying to prove, and make it manageable! Don't try to compare the entire movie to the entire book. Instead, zoom in on a particular aspect, like comparing Daisy Buchanan in the book to Daisy in the movie, or look at just a few of the symbols. For example, if you're asked to write about how symbols are adapted in the movie, don't go through every symbol you can think of. Instead, you could focus on your paper on the green light or the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, and really look at your chosen symbol in detail.
Make sure to use specific lines, scenes, or shots to back up your argument. In your English classes, you've probably learned about using evidence from the book as evidence for your essays. It turns out, you can do the same with movies! Even better, you have a wider variety of evidence to choose from.
Don't just make a list of plot differences between the book and the movie. Just listing the plot differences won't allow you to do any deep analysis of the director's vision for their film and how it's different from the novel.
As a brief example, let's look at how one of Gatsby's most famous symbols, the green light at the end of the Buchanans' dock, is shown in two of the movies and what it shows about the directors' visions.
Dive into the novel's beginning with our guides to Gatsby's title, its opening pages and epigraph, and the first chapter. Or, start with a summary of The Great Gatsby, along with links to all our great articles analyzing this novel!
The Great Gatsby is a superficially beautiful hunk of a movie with nothing much in common with the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. I wonder what Fitzgerald, whose prose was so graceful, so elegantly controlled, would have made of it: of the willingness to spend so much time and energy on exterior effect while never penetrating to the souls of the characters. It would take about the same time to read Fitzgerald's novel as to view this movie -- and that's what I'd recommend.
The movie is "faithful" to the novel with a vengeance -- to what happens in the novel, that is, and not to the feel, mood, and spirit of it. Yet I've never thought the events in The Great Gatsby were that important to the novel's success; Fitzgerald, who came out of St. Paul to personify the romance of an age, was writing in a way about himself when he created Gatsby. The mundane Midwestern origins had been replaced by a new persona, by a flash and charisma that sometimes only concealed the despair underneath. For Fitzgerald, there was always something unattainable; and for Gatsby, it was Daisy Buchanan, the lost love of his youth, forever symbolized by that winking green beacon at the end of her dock.
The beacon and the other Fitzgerald symbols are in this movie version, but they communicate about as much as the great stone heads on Easter Island. They're memorials to a novel in which they had meaning. The art director and set decorator seem to have ripped whole pages out of Fitzgerald and gone to work to improve on his descriptions. Daisy and her husband, the ruthless millionaire Tom Buchanan, live almost drowning in whites, yellows, and ennui. Tom's mistress Myrtle and her husband, the shabby filling station owner George, live in a wasteland of ashes in Fitzgerald's novel; in the movie, they seem to have landed on the moon.
Having seen the movie, I think maybe I was wrong: Redford could have played Gatsby. I'm not even sure it's his fault he doesn't. The first time Clayton shows us Gatsby, it's a low-angle shot of a massive figure seen against the night sky and framed by marble: This isn't the romantic Gatsby on his doomed quest, it's Charles Foster Kane. A scene where Gatsby reaches out as if to snatch the green beacon in his hand is true to the book, but the movie's literal showing of it looks silly. 041b061a72