The Great Gatsby Essay
Baz Lurhmann’s adaptation of popular classic “The Great Gatsby” is an epic melodrama that fuses grandeur, pop and jazz music, psychological drama, and a timeless tale of love and loss. The story is narrated by Nick Carraway, who is played by Toby Maguire. He tells the story of the central characters of Jay Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and the love of his life Daisy Buchannan, played by Carey Mulligan. Gatsby spends years trying to gain enough wealth and social stature to finally be accepted by Daisy. He then throws lavish parties every week, hoping that Daisy would attend one. Nick, who is Daisy’s cousin, is the one who finally brings them both together. It is only when Daisy meets Gatsby that she realizes how unhappy she is in her married life. She gets romantically involved with Gatsby and vows to leave her husband to be with Gatsby. However, as the story proceeds, Daisy finds herself unable to do so. Leaving Gatsby hopelessly waiting for her and eventually getting killed for a crime Daisy commits. Luhrmann’s adaptation of the classic is immense and grand on the cinematic scale. From the cast to the larger than life sets and costumes, every scene captivates the viewer visually.
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Analysis of the Story
The Great Gatsby is a love story marred by the social and class divide. It is also a story of deceit and selfishness. Jay Gastsby the central character of the movie, is a mysterious character who does everything in his power to win the love of his life, Daisy, back. Once an ordinary soldier in the army, he strives to acquire a great deal of wealth by unfair means. However, throughout the story he tries to cover up his tracks and pretends that his newly acquired wealth is all his hard earned money. Daisy Buchanan, is married to a rich man named Tom Buchanan. Daisy, as the name suggests, is a fragile and beautiful woman. She is living with an unfaithful husband but is confused about her life. Throughout, the movie she is never sure about staying with Tom or leaving him for Gatsby. Nick Carraway is the narrator of the story, and is well aware of what is going on in the lives of Daisy and Gatsby. He is the one who is greatly affected by the hollow and pompous life of those around him. Despite, knowing all about Gatsby, he is the only one who realizes the true intensity of Gatsby’s feelings for Daisy. The irony of the story is that Daisy disregards his feelings and leaves town with her unfaithful husband, whereas Gatsby ends up dying for a crime Daisy committed. In this essay, the adaptation will be evaluated on the basis of its music, cast, and costumes and sets.
The movie comes with some modern music which helps to give a modern tone to the original story. The hip hop music adds a touch of avant-gardism and liveliness to the movie. Music always helps directing the audience’s emotions. Famous singers like Jay Z and Beyonce sang songs for the movie. Thus, with the help of modern music Luhrmann has tried to fuse a story penned down in the 1920s with the present. “The era appropriate music of Fitzgerald’s time was Jazz music”, however, the soundtrack hardly has any songs belonging to that genre. (Anushiravani & Alinezhadi,77)
Leonardo Dicaprio, who plays the central character of Jay Gatsby, steals the limelight in the movie. He stands out with his apt depiction of the mysterious character of Mr. Gatsby. Not only has Leonardo faithfully delivered every expression, false smiles, and pretentious shows of wealth and pomp but has also showed the depth of his emotions and love for Daisy. The role of Daisay Buchanan is played by the British born actress, Carey Mulligan. She has projected her own innocence and charm in Daisy’s character, who is actually supposed to be more a mature woman with unmatchable beauty. However, casting Mulligan as Daisy helped the audience like the overall character of Daisy, who in the end betrays Gatsby. Another important character in the movie is that of Nick Carraway. The role is played by Tobey Maguire. Despite playing the lead role of Spiderman in the past, Tobey gracefully played the shy and introvert character of Nick. Although, his character is extremely important to the story, it is not granted its fair share of screen time. The main cast for the movie is selected after a great deal of consideration and each role has successfully depicted the true essence of the characters. However, Gatsby’s character has overshadowed every other character in the movie.
Costumes and Sets
A lot of effort was put into the sets, and costumes to make the movie aesthetically pleasing. However, it is not wrong to say that the focus shifted from the book’s tale of human nature and its complexity to grandiosity and aspirational life. The beautifully adorned costumes, and sets make Long Island seem like something out a fairy tale and steal the limelight from the dialogues. For the audience, the larger than life sets and costumes at times take the focus away from the original theme and the dialogues. On the other hand, “the sets of The Great Gatsby are crucial in distinguishing characters from one another by emphasizing their individual personalities and status” (Egan, 9). Moreover, it is the clever set design that makes the movie seem appropriate to the era. They enhance the overall aesthetics of the scenes. The costumes are also appropriate to the original era of the movie and in accordance with the personality of each character. Thus, revealing details about their personality through costumes.
After reviewing various aspects of the movie, it can be concluded that it is a success on almost all fronts. The screen writers and director achieved their vision to make the movie a grand affair. The addition of music, costumes, and the characters add their own charm to the remarkable tale of romanticism, faith, and effort. Every scene of the movie is eye catching in its own way and all the cast has delivered every dialogue with precision. A lot of scenes are carried out with such perfection that they leave the knowing audience awestruck on the exact similarity to the novel. The movie’s main focus is only on Jay Gatsby and does not focus on other important characters of the movie. The parties and grandiose in the movie at times is too superfluous and redundant. “It is the sheer size, overstatement and noise, both visually and aurally, that sinks Luhrmann’s picture “(French, 5). It also lacks focus on other themes of the novel like social hypocrisy, class difference, and the pursuit of the American dream, limiting it only to a romantic block buster. Overall, the movie entertains the viewers on all levels.
Despite minor flaws, the movie is a huge success. For the audience, the movie is a grand spectacle and provides perfect entertainment. However, it focuses majorly on Jay Gatsby and does not pay much attention even to the narrator, Nick. In trying to make the movie a success, it has been made into a romantic story while discarding other themes that strengthen the overall narrative and depth of the novel. The music, grand parties, costumes, and sets take the audience back to the 1920s. Moreover, the strong cast featuring the popular actor Leonardo DiCaprio entice the audience and bring the characters back to life. Leonardo’s apt depiction of Gatsby’s mysterious character complemented by Fitzgerald’s words and Lurhmann’s perfect direction indisputably has added towards making the movie a huge success.
Anushiravani, A., Alinezhadi, E. “An Analytical Study of 2013 Cinematic Adaptation of
The Great Gatsby”. International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences.
Vol. 68, 2016. pp 73-85.
Egan, K. “Film Production Design: Case Study of The Great Gatsby”. The Elon Journal of
Undergraduate Research in Communications. Vol. 5, no. 1 , 2014. Pp 5-14.
French, P. “The Great Gatsby-Review” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media,
18 May, 2013. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/may/19/great-gatsby-review-