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The Great Gatsby: Film Analysis

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Ellecia Baker

on 10 August 2014

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby: Film Analysis

Throughout the final scenes of The Great Gatsby, the music and sounds of nature and Nicks voice, especially, portrayed his incredible sadness for the passing of his good friend, J. Gatsby. The start of the scene begins with the deep and mysterious howl of the wind moving through the desolate home of J. Gatsby. This sound highlights the sense of emptiness and sadness felt within Nick for Gatsby's death. The winds sound not only symbolized the desolate and empty home, but also the hole of sadness, left inside Nick's heart, because of Gatsby death. Along with the dark setting, the howl of the wind has a direct relationship with regards to creating a mysterious but yet a sad and emotional atmosphere for the audience. The sound of the wind and the moving white curtains, in the room where Gatsby lies in his coffin, could resemble Gatsby's ghost still living and moving through the abandoned home. The howl of the wind in this scene is an example of diegetic sound as it was originally from a source within the films world.

When Nick's voice starts speaking, however, his emotion and grieving shows the audience that he himself was Gatsby's only true friend, as ''not a single one of the sparkling hundreds that enjoyed his hospitality attended the funeral''. The tone of his voice displayed his anguish, misery and heartache which in turn makes the audience feel the same way. Along with his voice, the picture of him lying on the stairs near the dead Gatsby shows that Nick ''was all he had, the only one who cared''.
Music and Sound
Camera Angles and Shots
The final scene of The Great Gatsby featured various camera angles and shots that added a whole new level of intensity and mystery. At the beginning you see a long, panning shot of Gatsby’s house overlooking the smoky, still and gloomy lake. From the panning shot, you can see a scatter of lights that were on the inside of the house. This gives the audience a sense of the emptiness to the house, as at the parties Gatsby used to hold, all the lights were on making the house look alive, but the few lights in this shot make it look partly abandoned.

The camera then directs you to the inside of the house where you see Nick standing at the end of the gloom, dark hallway. The director has decided to use a low level angle to allow Nick to look smaller than he is and to exaggerate the sheer size of the house. At this stage, it reinforces the audience response to feel a great sense of sympathy towards J. Gatsby. From there, the camera fades to a medium shot showing Gatsby’s coffin underneath the staircase. The effect of Gatsby being under the staircase shows how Gatsby, in reality, was only a small portion of what made up the house, and a large portion was credited to the flamboyant parties for which the house was known for.

From there, the camera deliberately fades into a birds eye view showing the top of the spiral stairwell. It then rotates downwards (zooming shot), following the stairwell, towards the dead Gatsby at the bottom. This symbolizes a whirlpool effect to show that Gatsby’s life has disappeared and is being forgotten just like water going down a drain. From there, you see an extreme close up of Nick sleeping and looking tired, drained and depressed. It expresses that Gatsby's death effected Nick too, as it ended up having a huge impact on his life and made him turn to alcohol to take away his problems. By Nick sleeping on top of Gatsby on the stairwell, it shows that Nick had a lot of influence over Gatsby compared to any other person.
Lighting and Camera Angles
Scene in Context and Overview
The scene we have chosen to analysis was a section in the film just after J. Gatsby had been murdered. While Gatsby was awaiting a very important phone call from Daisy, he took a swim in his outdoor pool. The moment the phone rang from Daisy, Gatsby was shot and killed. He was murdered by a man who falsely accused him of running over and killing his wife. Although this man shot and killed Gatsby for revenge, he too killed himself. After Gatsby's death, Nick held a funeral for Gatsby, which nobody attended. This contrasted with the hundreds of people who previously attended his flamboyant parties in his mansion.

In this scene we discover the harsh reality of Gatsby's life. This harsh reality was that although Gatsby was surrounded by many important and wealthy people, when it came to his death and remembering the person Gatsby was, not one person showed up to his funeral. Although nobody turned up, his death was widely known and publicized throughout New York. It became clear to Nick and the audience that Gatsby was a lonely man. Throughout the movie, the audience and Nick, learn that although wealth and money is very important in having a good life, love and friendship is the key to happiness. This was evident with Gatsby, as although he could buy anything he wanted, his happiness never truly developed because the love and friendship one needs was missing in his life.

Through our analysis of The Great Gatsby we discovered that lighting and camera angles/shots were a major role in bringing the final scene together. This is because the lighting set the mode of the scene expressing the deep sadness of Gatsby's death and the camera angles/shots expressed hidden meanings such as the whirlpool effect represented as the blue spiral staircase going down to where Gatsby lay.

By Ellecia, Meg and Milly N
The Great Gatsby: Film Analysis
This scene contained some of the howling wind, which created a sense of emptiness and sadness within Gatsby's house
This high shot turning into a zoom shot, which swirls around in a rotation with the stairwell, resembles Gatsby's life, as if it was water going down a drain. This shows that no-one will remember Gatsby once he's buried underground.
The Great Gatsby film was set in the summer of 1922, during 'The Jazz Age' and the 'Roaring 20's' on Long Island in New York, America. 'Gatsby' accurately reflected the mood of an era, the post-war, pre-great depression period of wild partying alongside prohibition. His grand house symbolized how much ''new money'' Gatsby had due to the Roaring 20's and being a survivor of WWI. Gatsby was considered a West Egger as he lived on that peninsular of Long Island. Himself and all the lower and middle class people lived there, as they'd found themselves with outrageous amounts of money, and as a result, they spent it in an outrageous manner, such as Gatsby with his parties. Daisy, on the other hand, was an East Egger who had lived with her mass amounts of money for generations.

This scene was set at Gatsby's house where Nick is holding Gatsby's funeral. The visuals in this scene were very dark and gave off a sad atmosphere. The large room, in which the funeral took place, was practically empty. The emptiness was meant to show that how despite us seeing Gatsby as a man surrounded by others and widely respected for his parties, in reality there was nobody that was truly close to him and his life was simply built around money. Therefore, the emptiness highlights his loneliness.

There were very few dim lights lit above Gatsby's casket and the once bright chandelier that shed light over his extravagant parties was now only providing light over Gatsby's still body.The chandelier represents the wealth which Gatsby accumulated, however, in the end his wealth didn't matter because he still couldn't convince Daisy to be with him. This was done to heighten the sadness and gloominess of this event, because all that was left of Gatsby was his money. There was also blue light streaming in through the windows and from behind the white curtains which filled the room with sadness. This reminds the audience of how Gatsby died in his pool, as the blue light was replicating the color of water. The colour blue is also considered a sad colour, which was perfectly used for a sad ending of the film.

The white colour of the flowers surrounding Gatsby represents purity and Gatsby's innocence. It also symbolized that his life once had glamour, especially at his parties, however he too was in actual fact quite plain and simple. Nick was also shown asleep on the staircase, which indicated that Nick was waiting a long time for people to attend the funeral. The blue coloured staircase, which spiraled around Gatsby's casket, draws us to the fact that Gatsby was at the bottom of the staircase. The blue staircase could also resemble a whirlpool, going down the drain, where Gatsby lay. Gatsby also had dreams to live in luxury with Daisy. However, in the end, his high hopes and dreams led him to death. This part in the scene really showed the audience that he's at the bottom symbolizing that he didn't succeed in what he wanted to do.
Visuals and Setting
The few dim lights in this scene resembled the emptiness of the house, as it was once always lit up, due to the glamorous parties and guests he had, however as Gatsbsy is dead the warmth and light is slowly diminishing out of the house.
Please watch till the camera shot fades from Nick's closeup face to a house with a lake out the front
In the final scene of The Great Gatsby, lighting is an essential production element to portray the mood the director is trying to express. In the panning shot taken outside the mansion, the lake looks to be glowing, however the mansion looks to be dark, mysterious and uninviting compared to its surrounds. When first entering the inside of Gatsby’s house, we see that it is dark but light enough to still see the outline of surroundings in the shot. This is due to the natural light that is gleaming through the windows. The director has used faint natural lighting to make the house look gloomy, expressing the sorrow and emptiness roaming through the house due to the passing of Gatsby.

We see Nick standing at the end of the hallway in this same part with his back facing towards the audience. Although Nick has his back towards the audience, we can tell that it is him due to the artificial light of the chandelier and the faint natural lighting streaming through the window. The director deliberately made the scene dark, to exaggerate to the audience the loss of all personality and happiness which has disappeared from the house. The house was once full of life but now it's abandoned and desolate. The bleak house and its dim lighting represent Nick's depressed mood.

The camera then pans over to the main hall showing Gatsby's coffin under the stairwell. Candles (natural light) are used around the coffin to draw the audience's attention to the dead Gatsby. The candles created a peaceful and tranquil environment where Gatsby lay, as the scattered lights around him suggested that he was not at war anymore in relation to getting Daisy and running over the woman. The chandelier also helped to light up the open coffin due to it being above Gatsby's body. Although the chandelier was providing some light, it was, however, quite dim because the life was slowly fading out of the house due to it being abandoned. The director has made everything around the coffin dark so it stands out to the audiences eye. Also, a strong key light was used on the close up of Nick lying on the stairwell. The key light made the audience concentrate on Nick's sad, upset and lifeless face.
Gatsby's casket was left open, revealing Gatsby in a neat white suit. This was how the audience and Nick always saw Gatsby, as a wealthy man and was always presentable. The white suit also, like the flowers, represents purity. The purity was that of Gatsby's love for Daisy and his dreams for the future, which were genuine. Nick was wearing dark clothes because it was a sad occasion. In the Roaring 20's men wore tight suits with broad shoulders, shown as what Gatsby and Nick were wearing. Also, both Nick and Gatsby had the classy and fashionable side part hairstyle, which was commonly seen throughout the Roaring 20s era.

The chandelier also represented wealth and it was used in this scene to show what's left of Gatsby. There were flowers and candles surrounding Gatsby's casket. The candles created a sad atmosphere, as they shined dully around Gatsby's body which gave a depressing mood for the funeral. The white curtains that swayed as the wind howled through the house, made the house look abandoned and lifeless. Finally, as the camera zoomed in on Gatsby laying in his coffin, we discovered that he was no longer wearing his ring, which had a daisy flower on it. This showed that the love between Daisy and Gatsby has vanished, never to be replaced and that Gatsby is no longer wealthy, as he is dead.

The role of Gatsby was played by Leonardo Dicaprio. Leonardo was chosen for this role for various reasons. One reason was that Leonardo is well known across the globe for his portrayal in movies such as 'Titanic' and 'Romeo and Juliet'. Romeo and Juliet was directed by the same director as The Great Gatsby- Baz Lurhmann. Leonardo is an actor with a strong foundation of work and was chosen because it would surely draw attention to the movie. Leonardo was able to portray Gatsby successfully because of his looks, he's ability to adapt to the character and he spoke like a wealthy man who would be found in the 1920s. As an audience, Gatsby was meant to appeal to us the first time he comes on screen, looking wealthy and friendly. Therefore, as Gatsby was played by Leonardo, the audience liked him and was therefore able to sympathize and enjoy Leonardo playing Gatsby.

Nick Carraway was played by actor Tobey Maguire. Tobey was chosen because of his age and appearance. His appearance fits because his stature is slightly smaller and shorter than Leornardo's to show the comparison in Gatsby's importance compared to Nick, which was also shown through their clothes. Tobey fit the character well because he was able to portray a slightly quiet, curious character who had a lot of inner dialogue which he spoke to the audience.

Both actors in this scene successfully portrayed their characters in a way the director wanted the audience to see them, by the help of props and costumes.
Costumes, Props and Casting
This picture shows the typical clothing worn by men in the 1920's during the Roaring 20s. It also shows that there is no ring on Gatsby's finger, which symbolizes that the love of Daisy and Gatsby has gone and Gatsby is no longer wealthy.
This camera angle highlights the glow and light of the house slowly fading out, leaving the house dark and gloomy. This shot also makes the house look very big and grand representing the wealth Gatsby had to live in this mansion.
This panning camera angle and the lighting allows the audience to see the surroundings and setting of Gatsby's mansion. It shows that the lake looks very inviting, however Gatsby's mansion does not as only a few lights are on compared to when Gatsby had his parties.
This is a close up shot of Nick sleeping on the spiral staircase above the dead Gatsby. It shows that Nick was ''the only one who cared'' about Gatsby. Lighting (key light) really highlights Nick's drained face as Gatsby's death had really affected him.
This camera angle is a medium shot, which allows the audience to take in the room which held Gatsby's funeral. The small amount of natural lighting and the chandelier made the room dark and mysterious, causing the audience to feel unsure and sad.
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