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Will the movie version of The Great Gatsby even be The Great Gatsby?

Hi! My name is Noori, and I am going to be a senior at The Ellis School.  I live near the middle of nowhere, my taste in music is a tad on the eccentric side, I love photography, I’m absolutely obsessed with the 1920’s, I love to read poetry and also really wish that I had the talent actually write some, I love shopping, and I do not have any pets, though I would love to have a cat! I have always loved to read, & I read as many different types of books as possible, although my favorites are mostly classics.  One of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once said, ““That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”, and I could not agree more.  Reading is more than a hobby for me – it is a passion.  It’s endless entertainment, and it is always engaging. 

As I’m sure many of you have heard, a new film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novella, The Great Gatsby, is due to be released this coming Christmas. Although the hype surrounding the movie has only continued to grow larger and larger, I have to admit that I’m not very excited.  The Great Gatsby is most definitely one of my favorites, if not my favorite book, and with what I have seen and heard so far of the movie, I do not think that the movie will even begin to capture the depth and passion of Fitzgerald’s book.   The Great Gatsby, for those of you who have not read it, is told from the point of view of a man by the name of Nick Carraway.  Nick has recently moved to the east coast, where he finds himself falling into a world that he could never have even imagined before, the world of Jay Gatsby.  The novella focuses on Gatsby, a complex character, who in many ways represents the corruption of the American Dream. Nick finds himself sympathetic towards the tragedy that is Gatsby- the tragedy that Gatsby finds himself in due to his inability to let go of the past. It is through this book that Fitzgerald shows how the frivolity and carefree mantra of the 1920’s affected people’s morality.

I find that often when film adaptations are made of books that I have read, the movies leave me dissatisfied.  I think the first issue with turning a book into a movie is that it takes away what the book is meant to do in the first place.  Books are meant to involve the reader’s imagination.  When reading a novel, a person uses the words and descriptions as guidelines to formulate their own ideas of what the story really looks like.  By turning books into movies, the viewers obviously cannot do this.  As viewers of a movie, we can only see what the director wants us to see.  We are given one way to see a story, and a lot of the novel is usually lost in the translation from literature to film. Directors also often take “artistic liberties” on the original stories. To which one must ask, “why did you even base it off the book to begin with?”.  There is no reason to make a work that is simply another person’s spin on an original work.  My response to this is always “why not just make your own story?”.  It makes no sense to simply take another work’s name and then change absolutely anything that the director and screenwriter want to change of it.  In terms of The Great Gatsby, director Baz Luhrmann has had a number of successful movies that have proved that he is good at what he does (one of his works being Moulin Rouge).  Regardless, as was seen through the trailer, he has already made many changes to Fitzgerald’s story.  I do not deny that the Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby will probably be a good movie, but will it be an adequate representation of Fitzgerald’s work? That I’m not too sure of.

If you haven’t read the book before, I highly recommend reading it before the movie comes out! This way, you can read the novella with an unbiased view on the book itself, and then have the ability to judge Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the story in terms of its reflection of the original story.  Feel free to compare your own opinions and views of the book to the trailer for the upcoming movie which is posted below.

Noori – CLP East Liberty

2 Responses

  1. I just had this conversation yesterday! Gatsby is also one of my favorites and I don’t trust Baz Luhrman (or anyone really) to make a decent film version at this point. If the Robert Redford version fell flat, I don’t see this over-the-top spectacle doing a better job at capturing the magic of the book. Gatsby in 3D? Seems like a joke.

  2. It seems like any other book turned into a movie, the soundtrack is nice & the faces are pretty, but it’ll never come close to matching up to the book’s plotline.

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