Welcome to a new feature on my blog! From now on whenever I see a movie that was originally a book and vice versa I will be comparing and contrasting them in a post such as this one. My first review of this sort will be analyzing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby and Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation, also titled The Great Gatsby.
As with most movies I see, I read the book before I saw it on the big screen. You can see my full review of this novel by clicking here, but I will summarize my overall thoughts on this book now to make it easier. I absolutely LOVED this book. I read this with my American Literature class, and I was not expecting to love it as much as I do. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing is flawless in its language, flow, and the feeling it evokes from the reader. The abundant use of symbolism is brilliant in the way it adds more dimension and depth to the story. The story itself is entertaining, and it is amazing how easy it is to relate to something that is set in the 1920s- almost one hundred years ago! This book definitely ranks as my favorite American classic, and it is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read.
I will admit that it is very hard for a movie to live up to such an amazing novel as the The Great Gatsby. I understand that as an adaptation, a movie is not supposed to be exactly like the book it is based on. But I do think it’s important that a movie has the same feeling or atmosphere that the book has, and that is where this movie falls flat. For example, in the book I thought that both Daisy and Tom Buchanan were portrayed as selfish people who only cared about their “old money” and themselves. However, in the movie it seemed as though they were trying to portray Daisy as the victim of a controlling Tom. I’m guessing this was done to make her relationship with Gatsby more appealing to viewers.
Nearly all aspects of this movie had a modern twist to them, which is another component that I have mixed feelings about. It did help make it easier to relate to, but I think that is missing the point. We read and watch stories from the past in order to find those connections with the present- not to fabricate them with more modern costumes, music and atmosphere. Also, the symbolism in the book was so obvious in the movie. They stressed over and over again how the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg were like “the eyes of God.” They could have easily alluded to that meaning without coming right out and saying it several times.
Overall, The Great Gatsby movie was very entertaining and enjoyable to watch. The problems I have with it concern its relation to Fitzgerald’s novel. I partly think this is because I love the book so much, and therefore in my mind no film adaptation will never come close to matching the real thing. But I still stand by my opinion that, in this case, the book is better than the movie.
Did you like the book or the movie better? What are your thoughts on movie adaptations? Let me know in the comments section below!