The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald captivates the reader and creates almost an addiction to the novel. I as the reader found it difficult to put down many times throughout the book. Sadly, I did not have the same feelings for the movie’s portrayal. In fact, the way I reacted to the movie was almost the exact opposite of how I reacted to the book. Obviously, the producer of the movie had created different images in his head than I had created when I read the story.
First and foremost, the performances were very distracting. I found that many of the people that acted in the movie did not fit the role they were playing. For example, Gatsby seemed to be in love with himself more than he was in love with Daisy. He constantly was flashing what some may call, “dazzling” smiles. In my opinion, they were completely unnecessary. Gatsby often had me distracted because I could not tell what emotion he was feeling at any given time. At first, I suspected him to be a happy-go-lucky sort of guy, which doesn’t fit the character portrayed in the novel. At other times I could not tell what he was feeling. There were times when I was confused as to whether he was laughing or crying. All in all, I found the actor playing Gatsby to do less than a perfect job.
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On the other hand, I found that the man playing the role of Nick to do an excellent job. In the film, he seemed to remain on neutral ground in times of conflict. In some scenes, he didn’t get involved in disputes in any way. Only towards the end of the film did he really stand out on issues and seem to become more independent. This is very accurate to how his character is developed in the novel as well. His standoffish role in the film portrayed his character from the book well because as a narrator it seems that he would only be viewing the scene and not necessarily taking part in it.
The costumes in the movie seemed to be fairly accurate. The set design was also very well done. In the novel, there are many elegant descriptions and the movie portrayed them close to how I did in my own mind. The vehicles were definitely the right make and model, however, I was confused as to why they changed Gatsby’s car colour to white instead of yellow.
In my opinion, the pacing of this movie took the hardest hit. Without reading the book, I don’t know if I would have been able to follow the movie. Perhaps it was assumed that all viewers would have first read the book, and hopefully, all viewers will have read the book because if not they are likely to be left in the dark.
For one example, there were some mentions of Dan Cody in the movie, but that meant nothing to the viewer. If I hadn’t read the book to find out Dan Cody’s connection with Gatsby, I would have never known who that person even was.
Also, the general speed of events unfolded far too fast in the movie. It starts with Nick arriving in West Egg. The next thing you know he has received an invitation to some rich guy’s party, then this rich guy wants him to set him up with his cousin. All of a sudden Tom, Nick’s cousin’s rich husband, is mad at Gatsby (the rich guy) for having an affair with Daisy, who of course is Nick’s cousin. Then Gatsby and Daisy speed off and run over Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s mistress. This all seemed to happen far too fast and potentially could cause some confusion if the novel had not first been read.
The movie version of The Great Gatsby was far from meeting par. It was entertaining, I will give it that much. However, I do not recommend viewing it without first reading the book, and I definitely do not prefer the movie to the book. The book did an excellent job of creating vivid images in my mind, images different from those in the movie. Although I did not particularly care for this movie, I can understand how it may help eliminate any confusion that the novel may have created. So, I am not recommending that you never see this film, but first, make sure you know what the storyline is or else you may create some unwanted confusion.
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