Differences Between The Great Gatsby Novel and Film Adaptations

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 611 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 611|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a classic American novel that has been adapted into several films over the years. Each adaptation brings its own interpretation of the story, characters, and themes, resulting in differences that can be observed when comparing the novel to the various film versions. In this essay, I will explore the differences between the novel and two film adaptations, directed by Jack Clayton in 1974 and Baz Luhrmann in 2013. By examining the changes in character portrayal, narrative structure, and visual aesthetics between the novel and the films, we can gain a deeper understanding of how the story has been reimagined for different audiences and cinematic contexts.

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One of the most noticeable differences between the novel and the film adaptations is the portrayal of the characters. In Fitzgerald's novel, Jay Gatsby is depicted as a mysterious and enigmatic figure, with his true motivations and background shrouded in secrecy. However, in both the 1974 and 2013 film adaptations, Gatsby's character is given more depth and emotional complexity. For example, in the 1974 film, Robert Redford portrays Gatsby as a tragic romantic figure, emphasizing his longing for Daisy Buchanan and the emptiness of his lavish lifestyle. On the other hand, in the 2013 adaptation, Leonardo DiCaprio's Gatsby is presented as a larger-than-life, charismatic playboy, whose obsession with Daisy is fueled by a desire for social acceptance and validation.

Furthermore, the narrative structure of the novel differs from that of the film adaptations, particularly in terms of the framing device used to tell the story. In the novel, the narrative is presented through the eyes of Nick Carraway, who serves as the impartial observer and moral compass of the story. However, in the 1974 film adaptation, the narrative is more fragmented, with voice-overs and flashbacks used to convey the events of the novel. This approach allows for a more subjective and emotionally-driven portrayal of the characters and their relationships, as seen through Nick's perspective. In contrast, the 2013 film adaptation takes a more stylized and visually dynamic approach to storytelling, with fast-paced editing, elaborate set designs, and anachronistic music choices that reflect the opulence and decadence of the Jazz Age. This shift in narrative style creates a more immersive and sensory experience for the audience, capturing the vitality and allure of the Roaring Twenties.

Another significant difference between the novel and the film adaptations lies in their visual aesthetics and cinematic techniques. In Fitzgerald's novel, the descriptions of the settings and characters are rich and evocative, allowing the reader to imagine the opulence of Gatsby's mansion, the glamour of the parties, and the desolation of the Valley of Ashes. However, the 1974 film adaptation, directed by Jack Clayton, takes a more subdued and naturalistic approach to visual storytelling, with muted colors and understated production design that conveys a sense of melancholy and nostalgia. In contrast, the 2013 adaptation, directed by Baz Luhrmann, embraces a more flamboyant and stylized aesthetic, with vibrant colors, elaborate costumes, and elaborate party sequences that border on the surreal. This visual excessiveness serves to heighten the sense of spectacle and hedonism that defined the Jazz Age, while also reflecting the characters' aspirations and disillusionment.

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The differences between the Great Gatsby novel and its film adaptations are evident in the portrayal of characters, narrative structure, and visual aesthetics. Each adaptation brings its own interpretation and creative vision to the story, resulting in variations that reflect the changing sensibilities and artistic influences of their respective eras. By comparing and contrasting these differences, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the enduring relevance of Fitzgerald's novel and its ability to inspire new interpretations and reimaginings in different mediums.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Differences between The Great Gatsby Novel and Film Adaptations. (2024, March 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Differences between The Great Gatsby Novel and Film Adaptations.” GradesFixer, 15 Mar. 2024,
Differences between The Great Gatsby Novel and Film Adaptations. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Differences between The Great Gatsby Novel and Film Adaptations [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 15 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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