Film Review: The Great Gatsby – A Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Film: The Great Gatsby is based on the novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald – an imaginary fictional tale of Nick Carraway, his cousin Daisy, Jay Gatsby and several other characters.  The film is a classical piece of American fiction. The Great Gatsby (2013) was directed by Baz Luhrmann, who has brought out the human drama of adultery, easy morals, the misuse of endless wealth – through the acting talent of Leonardo Di Caprio as Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, and Carey Mulligan as Daisy.  Indian actor, Amitabh Bachhan makes his Hollywood debut as the Jewish gambler, Meyer Wolfsheim.


Nick Carraway is the story teller of the film – Jay Gatsby is the protagonist.


Retaining the original title of the novel, the film production of The Great Gatsby took place in Australia with a $ 190 million budget – the film was not only directed by Baz Luhrmann, but was also co-written by him.


An earlier version of The Great Gatsby belongs to the year of 1974, directed by Jack Clayton.  In 2000, A & E Television Network made their own adaptation with fair results. Baz Luhrmann’s film version has received both criticism and praise, overall.  The other fact is that it is the director’s highest-grossing film, grossing over $ 353 million, worldwide.  At the 86th Academy Awards, The Great Gatsby won in both of its nominated categories i.e. Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.


The scenes in the film have been skillfully matched to show a society of that time having gone berserk on alcohol and very conspicuous consumerism.  The contrasting backgrounds of Daisy and Tom possessing wealth through inheritance versus Gatsby’s newly acquired wealth are a strong basis of the storyline.


Jay Gatsby is a very mysterious businessman who is known to throw the most extravagant parties at his opulent mansion.  Nick moves from Midwest to New York after giving up on his interests in writing, and then becomes a neighbour of Gatsby (by chance)… in Long Island – that’s how the story leads us from one thread to another.


While the book was set in the year of 1920s, the film made some adaptations by including features from even the 1930s.  Leonardo Di Caprio delivered his role brilliantly, retaining his natural charm.  Joel Edgerton as Buchanan (Daisy’s husband) plays his part well – as a man with unlimited money, and how he likes to flaunt it.  He values his possessions more than his relationships.


As a person, Daisy is shallow, self-absorbed, weak; one has every right to wonder why Gatsby is so smitten by her.  


In The Great Gatsby, there is artistry, and the direction is strong.  The party sequences catch the lavish energy of the sound track – making the film thoroughly enjoyable.


Nick Carraway’s opening lines: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since, ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’”  Profound lines.


The duration of the movie is 2 hours and 23 minutes. 



Geeta Chhabra

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