The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald's legendary novel, Luhrmann's extravagant film


In the movie, Nick describes his experiences to a therapist. After Gatsby passed away, Nick suffered from a variety of problems, such as alcoholism and disillusionment. This led him to seek mental help so he began talking to a doctor about all of his crazy moments with Gatsby and the other inhabitants of West Egg and East Egg. However, in the novel, Nick is depicted to be very stable and healthy. By placing Nick in a sanitarium, the film enhances the harmful effects the wild and extravagant 1920’s society has on an individual.


It is very apparent in the novel that Nick and Jordan are romantically involved. In the movie, however, their relationship is downplayed greatly, almost to the point where they are seen simply friends. This major difference allows for the attention in the film to be focused on Gatsby and Daisy’s affair. Nick and Jordan’s lack of relationship in the movie also helps to emphasize Nick’s isolation from the members of this unfamiliar, over-the-top society.


In the film, Gatsby dies a happy man. Right before George shoots him, the phone rings and Gatsby thinks it is Daisy. Even though it is actually Nick calling him, Gatsby still passes away with the optimistic thought that Daisy wanted to be with him. In contrast, Gatsby never receives a phone call in the book and he dies lonely and disappointed. The movie ends on a bittersweet note – Gatsby died, but he still had hope – while the novel leaves the audience depressed and disheartened. This significant difference shows how the film highlights the idea that there is always some sliver of hope left.


In the book, a few people attend Gatsby’s funeral while the film shows Nick as the only one who shows up. The movie highlights the fakeness and selfish attitude of Gatsby’s partygoers who could care less that Gatsby had passed away. This is an extremely influential difference in the way that the film depicts Gatsby as being completely alone while the novel shows that he actually had some reliable and loyal friends. In the book, Gatsby’s father shows up to the funeral and Nick is able to converse with him and learn more about Gatsby’s earlier days. In contrast, Nick never gets the opportunity to meet Gatsby’s dad, which further highlights Gatsby’s tendency to distance himself from all of his friends and family.


The movie makes it more apparent that Nick is the one writing the story while it is rather assumed in the novel. Not only is he the narrator of Gatsby’s life, Nick is also the author of his entire story. For instance, the film ends with Nick physically writing Gatsby’s story when he writes “The Great” above Gatsby’s name on the manuscript. This makes Nick’s role in the movie much more prominent than it is in Fitzgerald’s book, resulting in him becoming a major character and not just a narrator in the background.

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