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

4. Giving The Movie A More Romantic And Positive View Of Gatsby

glass 2 This movie really wants us to love Gatsby. It wants us to empathize with him, admire him, feel sorry for him, and realize how much better he is than everyone else around him. And the movie accomplishes this, largely because it departs a bit from Fitzgerald's depiction of Gatsby. We are much more aware of Gatsby's tendency to act in the novel, to make up stories about himself. His questionable connection to Wolfsheim and his murky past are much more prominent ideas in the book, to the point where you're never fully convinced he isn't somehow an evil villain in disguise. It's only at the end of the book that our misgivings about Gatsby are put to rest, largely because of his tragic death - a death which is honestly more moving and saddening in the movie. The movie builds to it in a way the book doesn't. Gatsby's death comes as a shock, and it's only once we close the book that we see how the pieces fit, that we see why Gatsby had to die. We understand that a man who lived for nothing but an ill-fated dream must, as all dreams do, vanish. But Luhrmann pumps the movie with this dream-like energy from the very beginning. We see the green light in the very first shot, the symbol of the illusory nature of the world Gatsby created. We see Gatsby's dream, we feel Gatsby's hope. We see Gatsby's flaws, but we forgive him for them, because his pursuit is love. Gatsby's pursuit is romanticized in a deeper way than in the novel. We're too caught up in intrigue and mystery to allow us to feel a great sense of romance about novel-Gatsby. But we are united with Gatsby's passion as Luhrmann ropes us in. Through the dreamy, fog-filtered lenses of the scene where Daisy and Gatsby first make love, or when Gatsby first takes Daisy through his house, throwing his clothes around her in a slow-motion whirlwind of colors too bright to be real. My favorite example is the scene near Gatsby's pool: "My life, old sport. My life has got to be like this," says Gatsby as he traces his finger across the path of a shooting star, landing just beyond the gleam of Daisy's green light. The path of Gatsby's life will end where the green light lays - beyond his reach. But we admire him for it. We are given a powerful combination of romantic union yet separation, of the clash between past and future, of the opposition between desire and reluctance. It's true that, by emphasizing the hope and the romance and steering away from the other components of the book, you get a less nuanced and less complicated version of Gatsby, but what you do get is a powerful swath of emotions that guide you through the character's journey and truly plunge you into sorrow.

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: