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The Great Gatsby: Book vs. Movie

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Katie Cargill

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby: Book vs. Movie

Gatsby, Book
Nick, Book
In the book, Nick is a man who comes from a poorer family. He leaves home to become a bond man.

Nick is a straight-laced man in the book. It does not appear he gets into much trouble. On page 29 Nick says, "I have been drunk just twice in my life, and the second time was that afternoon..." The afternoon he is referencing is when Tom and Myrtle drag him to the apartment party.

The party in the book does not seem to be too crazy. In the end, a drunken Nick leaves the party shortly after Myrtle is hit by Tom. The movie depicts an entirely different affair.
Our Position
We believe the motion picture version of the book had to be altered, not only because of length, but also because of the time periods in which they were released. Times have changed since the release of the book and certain things are no longer considered acceptable in society. These changing societal norms required Baz Luhrmann (director) to alter the movie to be more suitable for today's audience.
There are many differences to be found between F. Scott Fitzgerald's
The Great Gatsby,
written in 1925, and the movie directed by Baz Luhrmann in 2013. These differences are examples of how times have really changed. In 1925, instances of racism and sexism were not uncommon. However, racism and sexism are not really tolerated or accepted in today's time. To suit the modern audience, instances of racism and sexism were omitted in the production of the movie. Many other differences can be found between the movie and the book. As times change, so do the accepted norms of society. The changes can be seen in the characters and themes of the story.
Gatsby dies a winner.

In the end, there is still hope that Gatsby will get Daisy. The movie shows Gatsby swimming in the pool. Nick narrates that Gatsby is waiting for Daisy. Gatsby hears the phone ring and begins to exit the pool. It is almost as if he is expecting a phone call from Daisy saying she will leave Tom. He pauses as he hears the butler say, "I know Mr. Gatsby will be very happy that you've called." Gatsby continues to get out of the pool, is shot, and then quietly says, "Daisy." It is not until after Mr. Gatsby has been shot that the audience realizes it was only Nick who was calling. As far as Gasby knows, it was Daisy, which made him believe she still cared.

Daisy, Book
Tom, Book
Jordan and Nick's Relationship, Book
Myrtle, Movie
Meyer Wolfsheim, Book
Gatsby was aware that Daisy would not be his.

P. 161, "No telephone message arrived..."

"Gatsby himself didn't believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared."

Gatsby died frightened.

P. 161, "He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass."
Gatsby, Movie
Nick, Movie
Daisy is caught up with material goods. She is portrayed as shallow and the audience is not supposed to feel sympathy towards her character.

In the shirt scene, Daisy cries out about missing out on Gatsby's wealth.

P. 92 "It makes me sad, because I've never seen such beautiful shirts before."

Daisy, Movie
The director wanted the audience to feel more sympathetic towards Daisy's character, perhaps to give the audience a sense or reason as to why Gatsby loved her so much.

Daisy is portrayed as less shallow. There is also more romance shown between Gatsby and Daisy.

In the shirt scene, Daisy begins to cry. Nick's narration explains that the reason she was crying was due to the missed time with Gatsby. Daisy fails to accurately express her feelings and says the reason she is sad is because she has never seen such beautiful shirts before. The book does not allude to her being upset because of missed time with Gatsby like the movie does.
Nick is introduced in the movie sometime after his summer spent with Gatsby. He is checking into a sanatorium and has been diagnosed as morbidly alcoholic. This contrasts with his character in the book.

The movie makes reference to the fact that Nick has only been drunk twice in his life, but the way in which Nick loses control in the movie suggests Nick is really not as straight-laced after all. The party in the apartment is wild. Nick ends up waking in the morning only wearing his boxers. Nick's character in the movie seems to enjoy partying and lacks control in his life.

By placing more emphasis on Nick's life after the summer with Gatsby and playing up his alcoholism, the audience is drawn in more to a character who was seemingly boring in the book.
The book portrays Tom as a jerk. He makes several racist and sexist remarks. It is easy to dislike his character.

P. 12-13, "Have you read 'The Rise of the Colored Empires' by this man Goddard?"..."The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be---will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved."

"It's up to us , who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things."

Although Tom is an easy character to hate, it is not apparent that he is the sole villain to the story. He is not necessarily what destroys Gatsby in the end.

In the book, it is Tom's goal to have Wilson lash out at Gatsby. He does not out right tell Wilson that Gatsby is to blame for Myrtle's death. He instead just tells Wilson the car that kills his wife is yellow. P. 140

Tom, Movie
In movies there always has to be a villain. The producers decided to make Tom the villain.

Tom practically tells Wilson that Gatsby is to blame for the death of his wife, Myrtle.

Although Tom is made out to be the villain, the producers decided to leave out Tom's racist and sexist remarks. In the apartment party scene, they completely omit Tom's abusive behavior of hitting Myrtle. Racism, sexism, and abuse are not as tolerated or accepted in today's society as they were back when the book was written.
**Disclaimer - This clip is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures.**
**Disclaimer - This clip and image are the property of Warner Bros. Pictures.**
**Disclaimer - This clip is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures.**
**Disclaimer - This clip and image are the property of Warner Bros. Pictures.**
Jordan and Nick's Relationship, Movie
The movie fails to show the romantic relationship between Nick and Jordan. Their relationship appears to be based more on friendship, rather than romance. It is possible that the director of the movie wanted to avoid distracting the audience from the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby. There is also the issue of time restrictions when making a movie. Luhrmann stated in an interview with Life and Times that reading this novel straight through takes seven hours. He said they had to ask a question of, ”What scenes are absolutely fundamental to the story? What scenes must be in our film? And what scenes can we do with out, even if we love them?” He also stated, "...We had to make choices and we chose to stay very focused on the linear plot of the book." This explains why there was little emphasis placed on Nick and Jordan's relationship.

Luhrmann's interview can be found at:


Myrtle, Book
Meyer Wolfsheim, Movie
**Disclaimer - The image used is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures.**
Wolfsheim's character was based on the Jewish gangster, Arnold Rothstein. On page 69, Wolfsheim is described as a “small, flat-nosed Jew” with a “large head” and “two fine growths of hair which luxuriated in either nostril.” At the time the book was written, these anti-Semitic statements did not really pose much of an issue.
We said before that the producers of the movie wanted to cut out instances of racism and sexism to appeal to the modern times which do not tolerate these issues. When casting for the roles in the movie, Luhrmann (the director) decided to cast the Indian actor, Amitabh Bachchan. The director decided to stray from the book in order to show he did not defend Fitzgerald's characterization of the Jewish character. Luhrmann did not want to appear to be anti-Semitic.
P. 58 "Her gray, sun-strained eyes stared straight ahead, but she had deliberately shifted our relations, and for a moment I thought I loved her."

This passage from the book gives some insight into the relationship between Jordan and Nick. Fitzgerald flirts with the idea of the two of them being together. There relationship is a nice addition to the central plot of the novel and adds something positive to the story.
In the book, Myrtle has a different kind of beauty to her.

P. 25, "...in a moment the thickish figure of a woman blocked out the light of the office door. She was in the middle thirties, and faintly stout, but she carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can."

"Her face...contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smoldering."

Myrtle's death
P. 147, "They saw her left breast was swinging loose like a flap, and there was no need to listen for the heart beneath."
**Disclaimer - This image is property of Warner Bros. Pictures.**
During the process of analyzing the differences between the movies and the books, we found many more differences that we did not originally catch. Besides differences related to societal appropriateness, some of these changes didn’t seem to have a concrete purpose besides just to make the movie more modern or exciting. This shows that even though the book is a best seller, the movie adaptation can not always be the same. Many people get upset when they see that a movie does not follow close enough to the story line of the book. Realizing that things can’t always be the same from book to movie will help people to accept or even celebrate the differences between the two.
The movie depicts Myrtle as a slender, beautiful woman, rather than a woman who is thicker in frame with no gleam of beauty on her face. This could be related to the change in what our society considers to be beautiful.

In the movie, Myrtle's death does not appear to be as gruesome as explained in the book. The director probably had to be careful about how her death was portrayed to ensure it was appropriate for the rating of the movie.
Luhrmann's Interpretation:
Music, Nick Calloway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
**Disclaimer - This interview clip is the property of Empire Magazine.**
For some additional insight into the director of The Great Gatsby's mind, here are two interviews. Information below is pulled from both of these interviews.


One of the biggest issues people have had with Lurhmann's film adaptation is the modern music used for the movie soundtrack. Lurhmann addresses this quite well. Fitzgerald put "African American street music" in his book (Jazz music) to show relevance to the time. Luhrmann put "African American street music" in his movie, it just happened to be Hip-Hop. Luhrmann did this to show relevance to modern times. He recruited Jay-Z to help create the soundtrack to his movie. Hip-Hop is "dangerous" and Jazz is "quaint."


While discussing how he reintroduced himself to The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann says in his interview, "I don't know this book at all. It is us, it's who we are, it's a reflection of where we are." Luhrmann thought if he could solve the issue of Nick Carroway's inner voice, he could make a movie. Luhrmann believes Nick was a ghost in the beginning of the book; He didn't know who he was or what he wanted to do. Nick just decided to write a book. The difference between book and movie is Luhrmann's decision to have Nick in a sanatorium. Luhrmann got this idea from another book of Fitzgerald's who had a narrator in an asylum.


Luhrmann mentions how Fitzgerald bought copies of his own book, because it was his dream to write the "great American novel." Luhrmann wanted to bring attention to the novel and reveal the book to today's audience. It appears that Luhrmann wanted to do justice to Fitzgerald's novel, but at the same time, he wanted to make it relevant to modern times.

Watch 1:14 to 2:45 for relevant information.
**Disclaimer - This interview clip is the property of Nova FM.**
**Disclaimer - This image is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures."
The Great Gatsby:
Book vs. Movie

Andrea Blake, Kathryn Cargill, Alix Koontz
Full transcript