By Rebecca Hurford, 1st Year, Sociology
The Great Gatsby (2013) is a film about hope, the American dream and ultimately, love. Originally published as a book in 1952, Rebecca Hurford discusses the contemporary filmic adaptation.
The Narrator Nick Carraway gives the audience an insight about the story of a mysterious millionaire who goes by the name of Jay Gatsby. Originally, the story was a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald managed to grasp the essence of an American society that was based on individuals seeking a better life for themselves in this era.
Creating a film to match Fitzgerald’s sense of creativity and modern romanticism should have been a hard act to sustain, however Baz Luhrmann’s direction and DiCaprio’s performance of Gatsby enhances Fitzgerald’s artistic style of writing and brings the novel to life.
Luhrmann’s use of colour throughout the film captures Fitzgerald’s vivid imagination and creativity. The use of bright colours, such as yellows and greens portray the core of Gatsby’s hope which lives throughout the spirit of the film. The colourisation and clothing of characters is also an important aspect of mise en scene, as it allows the audience to see the characters through the vision of Luhrmann’s cinematography.
Baz Luhrmann’s direction and DiCaprio’s performance of Gatsby enhances Fitzgerald’s artistic style of writing and brings the novel to life
Throughout the film we see Daisy wearing white, symbolic of her purity, elegance and innocence, which is key to understanding Gatsby’s obsession with her throughout the film. In contrast, Mertyl wears ‘crème’, the suggestion of this colour being seen as an off white connotes that a character who comes from a lower class can never be as angelic as someone who comes from money.
Additionally, the film’s soundtrack contributes a huge part to the film’s success. In particular, Lana Del Rey’s 2013 song ‘Young and Beautiful’ adds to the ideology of the superficial world that the characters inhabit in the 1920s. Throughout the film, the lyrics ‘will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful’ capture how important image is to the characters in the film.
In Gatsby himself we can see this particularly well; he has a picturesque gothic mansion, a vibrant yellow car and hosts the liveliest parties of the decade and surely his obsession with Daisy is her youth and beauty? However, Luhrmann depicts through the use of cinematography that image isn’t everything, as the last shot of Gatsby sinking into the depths of his pool suggests that inside he is very hollow.
Lastly, the way in which the film embraces Fitzgerald’s vision of Gatsby’s parties, is what adds to the exquisite richness which the film contains. The fast paced editing combined with the intensity of the music adds to the vibrancy of the 1920s flapper parties. Furthermore, the extravagant colour scheme adds to the atmospheric quality of the scenes.
The last shot of Gatsby sinking into the depths of his pool suggests that inside he is very hollow
In conclusion, Luhrmann has managed to create an adaptation of a novel written 50+ years ago and turn it into a contemporary sensation, which a modern audience can understand and enjoy but simultaneously gain the significant message of how Gatsby’s dream self-destructs, due to the collapse of morals in society in this time period.
Featured: IMDb / 2013 Bazmark Film III Pty Limited
Do you agree that The Great Gatsby embodies Fitzgerald's literary vision?