Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby has been filmed five times. But the most successful is the film by Baz Luhrmann with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. The picture turned out to be bright and dazzling, which prevented some viewers from seeing the meaning behind the spectacular, colorful film The Great Gatsby.
This caused criticism from the American film press. But, despite this, the picture won a number of awards, including two Oscars. A detailed analysis will help to clarify the essence of the film and the novel underlying it.
The action of the picture takes place in America, in the period from 1922 to 1929. Everything shown is the memory of a direct participant in the events described – Nick Carraway. The man is in the clinic for treatment for alcohol addiction and, on the advice of a doctor, writes his memoirs.
The characterization of the main characters will help to better understand what the meaning of the plot is in the film. Main characters:
- Nick Carraway – a modest, active young man from a wealthy family, graduated from Yale University,
- Jay Gatsby – real name James Getz, grew up in a poor family, purposeful, romantic;
- Daisy Buchanan – Nick’s cousin, a weak-willed girl who exchanged love for wealth, is raising a little daughter;
- Thomas Buchanan – Daisy’s husband, a wealthy, self-confident type, cheats on his wife and does not even try to hide it;
- Myrtle Wilson – Tom’s mistress;
- George Wilson is an auto mechanic and deceived husband.
In 1922, Nick moved to New York and settled in one of the most respectable areas – Log Island. Not far away is the estate of the Buchanan couple.
Barely settled in, Nick only hears talk about a mysterious rich neighbor who regularly throws lavish parties. Carraway also receives an invitation to one of them, where he meets the mysterious owner Jay Gatsby.
Young people become friends. Soon Gatsby tells Nick about his past and secret passion for Daisy. As it turned out, Jay and Daisy knew each other in the past and there was a romantic relationship between them. But due to the poverty of the young man and the need to go to war, the couple was forced to leave.
Daisy, at the insistence of her relatives, married Tom. True, the wedding celebration almost fell apart when the bride received news from her lover. The weak-willed girl could not refuse to marry a millionaire.
Interesting! The author of the novel, Scott Fitzgerald, being a poor, unknown young man, dared to ask for the hand of a girl, Zelda, from a wealthy family. Zelda set a condition – she would marry him if he earned a million. After gaining fame and getting rich, Scott married his sweetheart.
Jay is sure that Daisy still loves him and arranges parties for the sole purpose of seeing her beloved at one of them. Gatsby turns to Nick with a request to organize a date with his cousin, and he agrees.
Daisy, having met with a former lover, offers him to run away. But Gatsby refuses, promising a quick life together in a luxurious mansion.
The lovers meet in secret. To prevent their romance from becoming public, Jay no longer throws parties and fires some of the servants.
End of the Great Gatsby
One day, Nick, Jay and Daisy’s friend Jordan come to visit the Buchanan family and the whole company is heading to the city. A serious conversation takes place in the hotel, during which Tom tries to humiliate Gatsby in the eyes of his wife, betraying his humble origins.
Jay wants her lover to confess to her husband that she lives with him only for the sake of money, but Daisy hesitates.
The company is back. Daisy is in Jay’s car, separate from Tom, Nick and Jordan.
Meanwhile, a scandal erupted in the Wilson family due to Myrtle’s infidelity. A woman jumps out of the house and is hit by Jay’s car, which is driven by Daisy.
Distraught with grief, George believes that the driver who hit his wife was her lover. From Tom, he learns the name of the owner of the car. Having entered Jay’s house, George kills first him, then himself.
At the funeral of the hero, in addition to Nick and his father, there was only one of the many guests who attended parties. Daisy leaves with her husband.
Nick, having finished his memoirs, entitled “Gatsby”, attributes to the name “The Great”.
Luhrmann, shooting his picture, clearly adhered to the original source, trying to put into the plot of the film The Great Gatsby the meaning conceived by the author of the book.
As in the novel, the film tells about the bright and pure dream of Gatsby, forcing the viewer to empathize with the hero. For the sake of the opportunity to be with the woman he loves, Jay turned from the son of an impoverished farmer into the owner of a huge fortune.
The romantic dreamer is opposed by representatives of another, “American” dream in the person of the Buchanans. For the sake of wealth, stability and recognition in high society, they are ready to lie to each other and tolerate betrayal.
There are many details in the film that seem insignificant, but help to understand the hidden meaning of The Great Gatsby. The most important ones are:
- phone calls;
- green lights of a lantern;
- Dr. Eckleberg’s view from the billboard.
All of them, to one degree or another, symbolize the various emotions that own the characters: despair, hope, passion.
But the main point of the film “The Great Gatsby”, as well as the novel of the same name, is to show the unequal position of people in society, as well as the hypocrisy and rottenness of the “high society”.
Much controversy arose among critics regarding the title of the novel. Most of them believed that Fitzgerald put an ironic meaning into the epithet “great” in the title, thereby showing his attitude towards Jay Gatsby.
Interesting! Fitzgerald changed the title of the book several times. One of the options sounded like “Among millionaires and dumps.”
But director Luhrmann had a different point of view – Gatsby is great, because he possessed a rare quality – the ability to bring dreams to life, creating material from the ideal.
What is the essence of the ending
The unbridled radiance and brilliance of the initial frames are replaced by a heavy and tragic atmosphere closer to the finale. The hero dies in full confidence that his beautiful dream has come true. The illusory nature and failure of hopes is one of the meanings of the ending of The Great Gatsby.
Another can be judged by the scene of the funeral, in which only three are present. Jay was needed as long as people could take advantage of his generosity. This moment shows the importance of material values for society.
The only hero who does not associate his life goals with material values is Nick Carraway, who dreams of becoming a writer. But he also lost his way for a while, carried away by the luxurious life of New York.
But at the end of the film, Nick was able to find the meaning of existence, lost for a while, by writing a novel about his dead friend, the Great Gatsby.
Certainly viewers familiar with Fitzgerald’s book will be better able to appreciate the meaning of The Great Gasby. But, as in any work, each of them will see something different in the film and draw their own conclusions.