“The Great Gatsby” Book & Movie Review

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In 1998, senior year, my friend Stephanie and I chose to read and present “The Great Gatsby” to our English class. We passed out candy cigarettes/cigars and sparkling grape juice in plastic cocktail glasses, hung colorful balloons, and played jazz music. Clearly our focus was on the superficial party aspect of the novel. Regardless, from that moment on, I was a Fitzgerald fan. I’ve read “The Great Gatsby” several times over the years; most recently a few nights ago. After I closed the book, I said to my husband, “I don’t remember the book being so sad.” He replied, “It means different things during different times in your life. All great art allows you to relate to it as an observer. The meaning changes depending on what’s going on in your life.” I love his take on it!

I think Richard Roeper, a Sun-Times Columist says it beautifully as well:

“As is often the case with that other slim and brilliant American novel, “The Catcher in the Rye,” we are given the assignment of reading “The Great Gatsby” when we are too young to appreciate all that is happening, on the pages and between the lines. Read those books again when you’ve lived some life and felt some real pain, and it’s like you’re reading them for the first time.”

In a nut shell, I love the novel and I love the movie. The main difference is that in the movie, Nick Carraway tells the story (and ultimately writes it) of Gatsby to a psychiatrist during his stint in a mental asylum. In my opinion, this difference did not distract from the novel.

What I loved the most:

  1. Stunning Cinematography: Director Baz Luhrmann (Also directed “Romeo and Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge”) Over-the-top but brilliant. As the film progresses, the colors lose their brilliance, just as Gatsby’s hope of rekindling the past diminishes.
  1. Phenomenal Cast: Leonardo Di Caprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan (My favorite part of the movie is when Gatsby sees Daisy for the first time in five years; for this is where he sheds the great Jay Gatsby persona and reverts back to James Gatz- an awkward but genuine boy from the Midwest.
  1. Gorgeous Soundtrack: Some of these songs tug at your heartstrings. In fact, as the credits rolled, the audience sat in silence for several seconds; as if all of us needed a moment to process the beautiful heartbreak of the film. (I believe it was the song “XX” by Together)

Here’s a sample:

Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful:”

“Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful? Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?”


Beyonce feauturing Andre 3000: “Back to Black.” Remix of Amy Winehouse song. Super sexy, slowed down version.


Florence and the Machine “Over the Love”

“There’s a green light in my eyes and my lover on my mind”


The White Stripes “Love is Blindness” (cover of U 2 song)

“Love is blindness, I don’t wanna see.”


Sia “Kill and Run”

“My brain doesn’t want to silent call for you.”


For a track by track review, check out:


If you’re a fan of “The Great Gatsby,” I recommend the movie “Midnight in Paris”

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atLg2wQQxvU



23 thoughts on ““The Great Gatsby” Book & Movie Review

  1. Thanks for reviewing this. I’m really glad to see it was a positive review, as there have been so many negative ones (which is why I haven’t been able to drag my husband to see it yet). Also, I love your husband’s take on the interpretation…that’s true of so many great novels, and an excellent way to look at it!

  2. I always liked the book, so I’m hoping to see the movie at some point. Trying to convince my wife to go when she doesn’t like the modern soundtrack on a movie set in the 20’s is proving a problem. Do kids still read ‘Great Gatsby’ in high school?

  3. Like you, I had to read The Great Gatsby in high school, and like you, I loved it then too. somehow the book has gotten lost along the way, and i’d like to reread it. I’m happy the hear the movie didn’t disappoint, I’ve loved every movie Baz Lurhmann made. His over-the-topness doesn’t feel over the top the way he does it, it feels perfect.

    I love reading favorite books again every 5 years or so, it’s like I’m reading a completely different book. It’s the same book, but i’m different.

  4. Pingback: Week 6: What Caught My Senses This Week | Keep Calm and Write On

  5. Thank you for sharing the quotes from Roeper and your husband – they are spot on. What I most enjoyed about the film was that it made me reread the book in yet another new way, in Luhrmann’s theatrical and breathlessly romantic light.

  6. Great review – I’ve not seen the film yet, but I’m imagining that the superficial and ‘theatrical’ style of Gatsby’s life from the early novel will be visually really well done by Baz L. And, I’m imagining a Moulin Rouge style deadening to grey world as things change from the dream to reality.

    I’d love to link across and re-blog this on my own page if that would be OK?

    mel x

  7. I liked your husband’s take. I somehow never read the book… I am reading it now, after seeing the movie. I strongly disagree with the negative reviews I read. I loved the movie and plan to see it again, this time not in 3D. I wonder if that was a factor, as a few reviews indicated. I thought it a bit overwhelming at times, almost distracting.

  8. I saw Gatsby last night. I thought the acting was superb, the costuming and sets were exceptional and the tightness of the script took the audience on a wild ride. The party scenes reminded me of the colour and vibrancy of Moulin Rouge – so rich, loud and racy that the images assaulted the senses.

  9. Pingback: Week 6: What Caught My Senses This Week

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