Baz Luhrmann's Film as a Modern Interpretation of the Classic Novel "The Great Gatsby"

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The Great Gatsby is an iconic book that is recognized in the modern era for both its fantastic english and its story which has been translated from words to film twice in the past century. Baz Luhrmann's film is a modern interpretation of the classic novel and share important similarities and differences. The differences begin with the modern elements the film has added to the story, the other major difference between the movie and book is the absence of key details that tied the original story from the book together. Despite the modern elements added and the missing details the film and novel do share similarity in the important themes and symbols they share. One of the biggest distinction between the film and the novel is the modernness that the film adapted. This is clear from the start of the movie when pop culture rap music is used when transitioning between scenes. The choice of music throughout the film is a clear distinction between the novel and the film, music in films sets the tone and the atmosphere and the music was not reminiscent of the 1920’s.

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The other modern touch that the movie added to the classic story was the speed that events were recounted at and editing that was added with modern movie editing. The story seemed to progress at a much more rapid pace than the book adopted, the sleepy and descriptive pace that Nick Carraway described the story was altered to be much faster in the film. This change could have been from the introduction of modern editing and computer generated images which also revealed differences between the two mediums. The editing and CGI made the story much more vibrant than it was described as in the book. Important elements and relationships explored in the novel were not included or overblown. One of the most important relationships that was overlooked in the film is the romance between Jordan Baker and Nick Carraway. In the film, Nick and Jordan only see each other at family reunions or Gatsby’s parties, the viewer is lead to believe that Jordan has a relationship with another man who whisks her away every-time Nick tries to get close to her.

Another element from the novel that was overblown in the film is the ferocity of the newspaper reporters. In the film, the media is made to look like modern day paparazzi swooning over a Hollywood star, Jay Gatsby is the centre of attention of New York city and the tabloids are constantly after him. The role of the media in the novel was very small and were not as intrusive into Gatsby’s life as they are portrayed to be in the movie. The final significant difference between the film and novel is how the two were narrated. Luhrmann created the scenario that Nick was being counselled by a doctor and recounting the traumatic events he witnessed one hot summer in New York city. This differs from the novel where there is no back story of Nick becoming depressed and an alcoholic, he is simply recounting the tragic story he watched unfold. Despite there there being many differences between the film and novel, there are also similarities.

Luhrmann's film remains faithful to the novel by including important symbols, scenes, and themes. The hypnotic green light that Gatsby obsesses over is carried over from the book into the movie. The symbolism in behind the green light representing Daisy is evident in how Gatsby is fixated on attaining the green light that is so close but yet so far away. Despite Nick and Jordan’s relationship not being expanded upon, Luhrmann ensures Jordan is still used to try and persuade Nick into fabricating the coincidental reunion between Gatsby and Daisy. Additionally, the theme of carelessness and destruction of human life and inanimate objects is carried over to the film, Daisy and Tom destroy Gatsby’s car, and end both Myrtle Wilson’s and Jay Gatsby’s lives through their reckless actions in both the film and novel.

Luhrmann did a good job at of incorporating the main themes and symbols from the novel into his movie. Filmmakers make changes to original stories in attempt to fill in the gaps that might come from translating a novel on to a screen. In the case of The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann made changes to the original story to try and help the viewers of his film better relate to the story from the 1920’s by adding modern elements of filmmaking. I enjoyed the novel more so than the modern adaptation in film, after reading the novel I expected to be visually shown the visual adaptation of the tragic summer Nick Carraway was subject to. I was disappointed to see and feel as if I was watching a modern Marvel movie, not an accurate portrayal of the novel in its correct era. The film shared it’s similarities and differences with novel and attempted to remain as faithful to Fitzgerald's, classic story about love, deceit and tragedy.

Works cited

  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. (2004). The Great Gatsby. Scribner.
  2. Luhrmann, B. (Director). (2013). The Great Gatsby. Warner Bros. Pictures.
  3. Messent, P. (2010). The Great Gatsby: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism. Palgrave Macmillan.
  4. Gross, D., & Gross, M. (1998). Understanding The Great Gatsby: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Greenwood Press.
  5. Lehan, R. (2007). F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Craft of Fiction. University of South Carolina Press.
  6. Miller, J. E., Jr. (2014). F. Scott Fitzgerald: His Art and His Technique. Popular Press.
  7. Miyamoto, K. (2014). The Great Gatsby: A Study of Baz Luhrmann's Film Adaptation. Literature Film Quarterly, 42(3), 185-199.
  8. Schilb, J., & Clifford, J. (Eds.). (2014). Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Bedford/St. Martin's.
  9. Schwartz, D. (2014). The Great Gatsby and Baz Luhrmann's Adaptation Techniques (Review). Modern Drama, 57(3), 395-397.
  10. Turney, M. (2013). The Great Gatsby: Baz Luhrmann's Jazz Age Tragedy. Literature/Film Quarterly, 41(2), 102-113.
Editors verdict:
The thesis statement is strong but is not expressed eloquently. Its placement in the introduction is not done effectively which reduces the quality of the arguments made. The main problem with this essay is its organization. The essay should be divided into the introduction which only introduces the essay and discusses the thesis statement. Arguments given to support the thesis statement such as the similarities and differences between the text ... and the film would start from the first body paragraph, not the introduction. There should be headings included to improve readability and only one point should be explained in one paragraph. Word choice and sentence construction are appropriate. Evidence presented is adequate but may be optimized by including direct quotes from the text or the film.

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Grade set by Eduzaurus experts:
Focus/Thesis and Introduction 2 | 4
Organization 1 | 4
Voice/Word Choice 3 | 4
Sentence Structure/Grammar 4 | 4
Evidence and Details 3 | 4
Total Essay Score: 13 | 20

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