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Gatsby Film

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The film begins in the burning summer heat of 1922 New York, when newcomer Nick Carraway (Sam Waterson) moves to the wealthy area of West Egg in Long Island Sound. Immediately taken under the wing of his beautiful second cousin Daisy Buchanan (Mia Farrow) and her pretentious yet extremely wealthy husband Tom Buchanan (Bruce Dern), Nick finds himself emerged into a world full of people manipulated by money and status. Upon his first visit to the Buchanan's lavish summer home, it is evident to Nick that he is an outsider among their kind. He discovers that Daisy, who no doubt married for money, is miserable in her marriage to Tom who flaunts his affairs like a new sports car. But throughout all of her suffering, Daisy is unwilling to leave her luxurious lifestyle behind for true happiness as her lust for money consumes her. The story doesn't truly begin until Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) appears, Nick's mysterious nouveau riche neighbor known for throwing extravagant parties for the rich and famous. After being invited to one of his gatherings, Nick befriends Gatsby becoming fascinated by his mysterious past and lavish lifestyle. Soon he discovers that Gatsby had a young love connection with Daisy and has been pining over her for years planning to rekindle their once unbreakable love, while Daisy is completely clueless of what type of man Gatsby has became. Nick assists Gatsby in planning a reunion for the two young lovers, and once they met again it was obvious that their love had not been broken. Conflicts arise as Tom becomes more and more aware of Daisy and Gatsby's affair as the strange and eventful summer drags on. The plot grows intense on a hot summer afternoon when Daisy, Tom, Gatsby, Nick and Jordan (Daisy's friend played by Lois Chiles) rent a hotel room and Gatsby brings the affair into the open. Tempers flare as Tom and Gatsby fight for the woman they love, while Daisy is forced to make a heart wrenching choice for once and for all. The summer meets its eventful climax in the events that follow, topped by a tragic murder.

In exception to the previously mentioned character and theme development, the film adaptation of the Great Gatsby is very similar to the novel, having most of the dialogue taken directly from the words of Fitzgerald's penning. The sets where presented exactly how they were described in the novel, most impressively Gatsby's mansion with its theme rooms and party guests. Many situations were duplicated perfectly from the novel by costume, set and narrating such as the argument in hotel, how the sticky hot day crossed into the heated debated between lovers. The symbolic attributes of the novel were portrayed excellently in the movie as the eyes of Dr. T. Eckleberg watch judging all that occurs in the Valley of the Ashes, West and East Egg. While the detail were presented actually, it was the feeling of a more poetic and higher meaning that was lost in the novels adaptation.

The differences between the novel and the film adaptation may have been minor, but they changes the overall feeling the novel conveyed. I believe this feeling was lost as the book was more complex in analyzing the characters behaviour and applying it to society as a whole. Obviously, it is much more challenging to convey that emotion through a movie as you can not read what the character is thinking and it is the actor's responsibility to express these thoughts. Many scenes were added to the movie to help express the characters emotions such as Tom fencing to show his anger about Gatsby and Daisy, and when Myrtle (Tom's mistress played by Karen Black) becomes angry and smashes a window after seeing what she believes to be Tom and his wife. Characters in the film were slightly different than how they were shown thorugh the actors. Tom, for example, was a hulking, aggressive, and muscular man in a novel whiel in the movie he was thinner and seemed more loving. Scenes in this movie where altered to make the themes of the plot more evident as well due to the fact that you can not read the character's opinions and background information. An example of the theme being altered is the scene where Gatsby gives Daisy a ring with a green jewel in it to represent the light at the end of her dock. In the book, this light plays a much larger role as it represented everything that Gatsby would strive to obtain but cause never have, including Daisy. By giving her the ring, they are trying to express that the green light he sees is Daisy. Another example of a scene altered s a theme is more evident is the opening scene. The movie begins with glimpses of Gatsby's mansion fulled with laughter and music, but with no people in it. This is an attempt to foreshadow the end of the movie and establish Gatsby as a type of tragic hero. The way in which Gatsby and Daisy fell back in love was also changed in the film version. In the novel, Nick is the narrator so he would not have been able to provide a description of Gatsby and Daisy's time alone together. When it comes to the film, scenes were added in to express how much they were supposed to be in love.

After reading the novel and watching the film, it is obvious that the movie fails to accurately display the overall theme to the story. In the movie, it appears that they story is simply about a love based around the division of the classes through greed and lust of money. In the book it seems much more that this, including a bigger picture on almost every use of symbolism in the novel. For instance, the green light is not only Daisy, or anything that Gatsby strived to have, but it stands for the American Dream. Fitzgerald wrote Gatsby's as a character who perfectly represents of the death of the American Dream, as no matter how hard he worked, he could never get what he wanted. The Great Gatsby is a perfect example of some classics should not be tampered with.

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