The Great Gatsby: 5 Changes From The Book That Worked (And 5 That Didn't)

5. Refitting Nick Carraway's View Of Gatsby

nick 3 Right from the opening of the movie I knew we were getting a slightly different version of Nick Carraway. Not in terms of personality, but in his view and appraisal of Jay Gatsby. In the opening of the book, Carraway, in discussing his sour views of his former neighbours, writes that "Only Gastby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction." In the movie the line is essentially the same, except that the word "reaction" is strategically changed to "disgust." It's the difference between being open minded, and being instantly struck by love. In the book Carraway's view of Gatsby is one that grows and develops over the course of the novel. He is at first as skeptical of Gatsby as he is of his overindulgent neighbors. He is intrigued by the mystery of Gatsby, but only agrees to accept Gatsby's invitation of friendship because he wants to learn about him. The movie's Carraway on the other hand, fully accepts Gatsby from the beginning with googly-eyed admiration and wonder. The scene where Gatsby drives Nick to town for lunch for example, I interpreted as Carraway allowing himself to be swept along for the ride, bemused and perplexed, but accepting it out of an idle curiosity. This same scene in the movie makes it plain that Carraway couldn't be more thrilled to ride to town with Gatsby, because he's so darn star-struck by him. It's a vastly different approach, but I think it works. Carrway's optimistic view of Gatsby, as the narrator of the story, in turn allows us to view him more positively. The novel gave him the appearance of someone very likable to everyone EXCEPT for Carrway. This therefore never allowed us to empathize with Gatsby as much as we do in the movie. With books you don't need to emphasize with the central character, your mind is free to wander and create whatever insinuations you please. But the nature of film is such that we need to hone in one character. The camera needs to find for us one individual we can root for, into whom we can channel our hopes and dreams. We understand from the beginning, through Carraway, that Gatsby is the man to hope for, his own hopes becoming as familiar to us as his misguided dreams. We therefore appreciate Gatsby - especially in contrast to the infuriating people around him - as much as Carraway does. It makes Gatsby's tragic death all the more saddening; more so, in fact than in the novel. Which brings us to my next point...

I'm an all-around film enthusiast - always have been, always will be. When I'm not writing about movies I'm sitting in a dark room watching one on my laptop. You might also find me at the local movie theater watching Christopher Nolan's new movie for the 80th time. I'm the guy in the back wearing the "It kept spinning" t-shirt. I also just started a blog called "The Dream Factory," in which I post video reviews of the latest TV shows and movies. So hopefully if you like the way I write, you'll love the way I talk. You can check out the blog here: