Expectations were high when fans heard that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby, was being made into another movie. Director Baz Luhrmann tailored the movie into an artistic mash-up, merging the Roaring 20s with a Shakespearean tragedy. Luhrmann is known for producing unique and artistic films that include realistic graphics and surreal editing, along with vibrant sound track choices.
Fireworks illuminated the sky, confetti fell out of the air in every color imaginable, and blaring music could be heard miles and miles away; it was definitely a Gatsby party. Based off of Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby film is about an ostentatious new-money man named Jay Gatsby. Gatsby lives in New York’s fictitious West Egg and spends his time hoping for a future with the woman he has loved for five years: Daisy Buchanan. He disowned his past and began a new life, all because he loved Daisy. In both Fitzgerald’s writings and Lurhmann’s film, Gatsby is portrayed to be a man longing after the idea of love. He is depicted as the good guy who the audience sympathizes with. Staying true to the novel, Gatsby embodies the American dream in the film.
The movie does an excellent job of sticking to Fitzgerald’s plot. The story is retold by Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin. Carraway seems to be in some sort of therapy session, recounting moments with Daisy, Tom and Gatsby. At times, it is difficult for him to express his feelings through words, so he expresses himself by writing stories. The actors and actresses do a decent job of bringing Fitzgerald’s characters to life. At times, their New York accents seem overplayed, but for the most part, they stick to Fitzgerald’s original script. Gatsby’s charm and Tom’s arrogance is spot on as the movies plays out, and Daisy’s over-dramatic nature isn’t hard to pick up on either. The effort in perfecting the film and pleasing fans was overwhelming and somewhat cheesy at times. According to the movie, Gatsby’s parties in 1922 were supposedly filled with extroverted, unusual people dancing to modern day 21st century music. There is almost a 100 year difference between when the movie takes place and the songs that are being played at Gatsby’s parties. The opening shot is paired with one of Kayne West’s songs, which was a little off.
The movie begins to escalate in the second half of the film when two of the most anticipated scenes take place. Fans were anxious to see how Tom’s rage of violence and the unexpected death of a character would be portrayed. Although the scenes line up with Fitzgerald’s story line, they aren’t played out in a realistic way. For such an elaborate movie, fans expected Tom’s abuse towards Myrtle to be pragmatic and believable, but it’s hard to tell if his hand even really touched her face in this climatic scene.
The unraveling of the plot in Fitzgerald’s novel is nail-biting, making the book almost impossible to put down, but this wasn’t necessarily the case in Luhrmann’s film. Some of the editing and over-animation of Gatsby’s house seemed to overcompensate for the slow unraveling of the plot in the first half of the movie. While the acting was average in the beginning, the last scene pulls the whole movie together. The audience is left speechless when the choice not to drain the pool changes Gatsby’s future indefinitely.