Book vs. Film: The Great Gatsby


I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of The Great Gatsby last night (it opens in Australia tonight). It was perfection down to the very last sequin.

I’m not even going to attempt a book versus film comparison because it’s all bloody brilliant. I love the book. I love Baz Luhmann’s interpretation.

There are oodles of reviews and you could spend a lot of time reading them. And I could spend a lot of time writing another but I won’t. Instead, this is what I loved:

  • Luhrmann does a movie soundtrack like no other. One reviewer said that Luhrmann makes movies that are basically music videos. This was said with a not-very-nice tone. Pah! Take it as a compliment Baz, you’re in a class of your own.

  • The party scenes. Astounding.
  • The scene when Daisy turns around to see Gatsby. In Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet, the moment when Romeo and Juliet first saw each other through the fish tank was a breathtakingly memorable movie moment. He’s done it again with Daisy and Gatsby – it’s exquisite.


There is no question that this movie was worth the wait and worth the hype. It exceeded my expectations. Can’t wait to see it again.


19 responses

  1. Man, I have to disagree. I thought Luhrmann really failed to capture the essence of what the book was about and ended up celebrating was Fitzgerald was condoning. But, I do agree that the work that went into the costumes and set design was fantastic.

  2. This is so heartening. Just this morning I finished a re-read of the book. It is fabulous, and I’d forgotten how much wry humour is in it. I have loved all of Baz’s films; I choose to ignore the nay-sayers. Even Australia has a lot going for it in my opinion. I was prepared to just accept Baz’s Gatsby as something almost other than the book – like his Romeo & Juliet was just brilliant for itself – but I’m so glad to read what you’ve said. I can’t wait & I refuse to be disappointed. Just seeing those stills with Leo particularly – to me he is the perfect Gatsby. Better than Redford even & Gatsby (the book) is perfect for the Luhrmann treatment.

    And just on what Christine says, do you mean what Fitzgerald condemned? I don’t know that he did, and I don’t know that the excesses and shallowness of the rich lifestyle was the essence of the book. For me, the book is about a man (Gatsby) who transforms himself in the wrong way and about his obsessive love for Daisy; and also about a man (Nick) who transforms in the right way, he grows and matures through the course of the novel. At the end he finishes his relationship with Jordan in the proper, honourable manner; at the beginning we learn he has virtually run away from a girl, leaving everyone wondering what was going on (including her, probably.) To me, the party scenes are just a backdrop, showing the rich at play, the setting of the times and for Gatsby’s circle. And of course, those party scenes would have been the ones that attracted Baz, as well as (I believe) the potential for angsty love scenes, and having Leo (Baz probably loves Leo quite a lot.)

    • I also approached the movie as something almost separate from the book (and same with Romeo & Juliet). In one way, how you ‘improve’ on Fitzgerald’s story?! You can’t, but Baz added a visual and audio layer that is truly sensational.

    • I never studied Gatsby as a text – to me, it’s only ever been a ripping story. So, did Fitzgerald condemn the Jazz Age via Gatsby? I reckon he may have had regrets when the party was over but quite liked it while it was happening!

  3. There were parts of the movie that I loved, as a movie. And there were parts that I really didn’t like. However, I am a Baz fan, and I agree that it was an experience. I’m very happy that I saw it on the big screen, because it was just so shiny.

    The book, I believe to be the ‘Great American Novel,’ and because it is a book that is completely interior, and is about Nick Carraway’s subjectivity, it can never be filmed in a way that can make people happy with the adaptation, at least, I don’t believe it can. One of the disappointments of the movie for me was the lack of chemistry between Gatsby and Nick, although I agree that the Daisy/Gatsby chemistry was definitely there.

  4. I can’t wait to see this, it has been out a few weeks here, but between vacation and the mother of all colds, I haven’t ventured out. Can’t. Wait.

    And the costumes! Not even having seen the movie I can tell you they are glorious – I want to wear them (and it be fashionably acceptable).

  5. I’m not sure if I’ll see this or not. I remember really not liking Gatsby when I read it in high school but I’ve heard so many good things about it lately, that perhaps I’ll try a re-read 🙂

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