34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2010
I read the book for my book club. Having done so I wanted to see the film interpretation. I found it a good reflection of the book (so many films are not!)The choice of actors was inspired. Robert Redford made a 'Great Gatsby' - just as I imagined him from the text. Bruce Dern, Lois Chiles and Sam Waterstone (as the narrator)were also well cast. I was disappointed with Mia Farrow - only in that she did'nt meet my expectations of Daisy but I think if I had'nt read the book I would have been satisfied. My husband - not having read the book - was pleasently surprised that the film had a lot more to offer than the 'romantic' story he had expected. The fabulous written text was not lost in the film and reflected the wealthy twenties in the USA beautifully. A 'must see' for readers of 'modern classics' and anyone who enjoys a story that does'nt quite end the way you expect.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
This stunning production with its splendid cinematography and its intelligent script by Francis Ford Coppola captures the essence of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of the man who pursues his preposterous dream. Robert Redford is utterly convincing as the enigmatic protagonist, Gatsby, whose personality "seemed to face . . . the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you, with an irresistible prejudice in your favor" [Fitzgerald, Chapter 3]. Young Sam Waterston portrays a believable Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald's narrator and empathetic observer; and Mia Farrow is pitch perfect as the shallow, spoiled young woman whose "artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes" [F. Ch. 8]. Farrow's performance makes us understand how Daisy's porcelain beauty and fecklessness could ignite the obsession of a man who has, after all, invented his own persona. Both of them are equally unreal.
The production values are superb. The settings, the music, and magnificent costumes--the pastel beaded silks and satin pumps, the feathered head-dresses--convincingly portray privileged wealth of the 1920s, which would soon plummet into the Depression--the great Valley of Ashes that infected the 1930s and indeed contaminated the entire twentieth century.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This 1974 classic brilliantly captures Fitzgerald's icy tragedy of careless people and their impact on those doomed souls, foolish enough to love them. Redford is dazzling in the lead role and is splendidly supported by Farrow, Waterston and Dern. Jack Clayton does not put a foot wrong in his evocation of a superficial world of superficial people into which wander very human beings who are subsequently destroyed by what they experience.
Jay Gatsby - the complex and enigmatic self-made title character - is a hero of epic proportions, whose tragic flaw is the depth of his love for Daisy Buchanan. Like so many other of Fitzgerald's "heroes" (eg Dick Diver in " "Tender is the Night" etc etc) he pays a harsh price in his attempt to "save" the woman he adores and enter a social milieu which is far less meaningful than his own world - where love actually does exist and whose virtues of loyalty and caring are undervalued. As such the film is true to the book's theme - and is about a perverse hubris which both motivates two of the films central characters to enter a world of superficial glamour - but where exists no enduring values - and is directly responsible for their deaths. As a character says to Gatsby at the film's penultimate moment " You are better than all of them" - and of course he is.
The new blu ray transfer is satisfactory and produces the look of the original film quite well but be aware that the source material was deliberately shot soft, by award winner Douglas Slocombe, so that fine detail is not very pronounced. Still we are given more clarity than was available on the earlier SD DVD and the fabulous sets and flamboyant costumes and design are displayed with much higher levels of sumptuous detail, and visual irony, than we have previously experienced outside of the pages of the novel - although its famous reference to Gatsby's enormous library of un-opened books, is regretfully omitted in the film itself!
The audio transfer doesn't wow but it's certainly an improvement on the SD version too and most definitely the early VHS copies where - because of copyright problems - the evocative original score ( in which the song "What Will I Do" is so resonantly employed) was actually replaced by a utilitarian and meaningless musical soundtrack on that first commercially available transfer!
Yes, ultimately the film has barriers for some viewers. It is is long - it's cool ironic stance will not appeal to those looking for a traditional romance - and the unsympathetic characters and the deliberate portrayal of their "casual racism" may alienate some too. But if you accept that this is a decidedly bitter look at obsession, class, and prejudice which doesn't want to pull it's punches - and is true in spirit and intent to Fitzgerald's novel - for those looking for fine filmmaking - I think it will provide considerable interest and a profound - if desperately sad - emotional journey.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2010
the film version of the book is brilliant,very accurate. you can read the book along with the film perfectly, even most of the lines are the same.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2010
I have been studying The Great Gatsby for my English literature class and I found watching the film helpful and I found it true to the book. Many of the images and characters were as I had imagined and it made it cleared in my mind when I came to write about it.I would reccoment it to anyone studying the book, or just want to enjoy a piece of "Jazz Age" nostalga.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2009
I read the Fitzgerald novel recently, and having realised it fitted perfectly with my desire to teach a topic at A2 based on "The Other"/"The Oustider", I realised that it would be a perfect novel to teach. So, it followed that I would see what the film is like and how it may help to imagine the world the novel is set in.
Filmed in hazy bright white 1920s style (with subtle 1970s styling) this film is delightful to watch purelt based on the aesthetic it presents.
Like any film adaptation it takes liberties with the original text, but this is one that is very true to the original and feels authentic.
For those who are like me and enjoy watching films for their beauty in cinematography, costume and setting, this is a great film. The acting is good and transmits the awkward, strange, dream-like feeling of the novel.
A film well worth watching.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2013
The Great Gatsby is my favourite of all the F Scott Fitzgerald novels and it is clearly based on the author and his wife Zelda.
True there are flaws with this adaption BUT there is a certain something that so clearly captures the 'spirit' of the age that Fitzgerald is trying to portray.
The cinematography is quite simply genius, the soft muted focus and the heat ~ you can quite literally feel it oozing from the screen.
Despite popular opinion, I actually loved Mia Farrow in the role as Daisy. She conveyed the perfect mix of spoilt but innocent, careless with life and other's feelings but all done without malice.
I have just purchased this DVD as I am desperate for my 16 year old daughter to see it before the new Baz Luhrmann version which I can't imagine is so true to the novel.
I would definitely recommend you watch this version.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2011
For some reason I had never seen this version of "The Great Gatsby"; having recently read the novel, I thought I might finally watch it.
My main impressions were that (1) the screenplay follows Fitzgerald's novel more closely than most screen adaptations of books and (2) on the other hand, the effect of the story gets blurred behind a fog, that is: the production of this movie as a sort of "roaring twenties epic" rather than the more intimate, people-focused feel of the novel. The film has outstanding production values: cinematography, sets, wardrobe - but rather than just serve as a tool to recreate the 1920s, they became a goal in itself, as if the director was thinking something like, "it would be a shame not to use our budget to its fullest" or "let's give the folks who might find the story too boring something gorgeous to look at".
As for the cast: I thought the main actors were very good, and that the cast gave good portrayals of the characters, with one exception, Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan. It is not that his acting was bad, on the contrary: I think he was miscast as Tom, and his interpretation of what Tom was like was all wrong. In the novel, Tom Buchanan is a more natural, straightforward kind of brute, as summarized by Nick, the narrator, as he concludes that he could not remain angry at Tom since he was like a child. Bruce Dern plays Tom as a more self-aware kind of con man. In the novel, at the end (no spoilers), I could believe Tom's sincerety as he expresses his feelings; in the film, he sounds like a hypocrite.
Many people have criticized the casting of Mia Farrow as Daisy. I thought she was an excellent choice. Granted, she may not correspond precisely to how Daisy is described in the novel. But she conveys the character's shallowness, with feelings that are fickle but nevertheless genuine, and which can plausibly charm those, like Gatsby, who mistake her present-moment, circumstancial feelings for something more durable and profound. The contrast between Daisy's personality with the more intelligent and perceptive Jordan, well played by Lois Chiles, is immediate and very true to the book.
As for Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby: my expectations sunk when I saw how the film changed the scene where Nick is introduced to Gatsby: from a casual encounter in the middle of the party, as in the book, to a mysterious, "James Bond villain" meeting in the film. Maybe the director felt it necessary to do that because the book scene would not work on screen, since viewers would immediately recognize Redford. But in any case, I thought that after that scene, Redford's portrayal of Gatsby was very good and mostly true to the book.
Overall, I recommend this film; but, maybe ironically, I think it might have been a truer portrayal of Fitzgerald's novel if it had been made with a smaller budget.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2013
To really understand this film, or the novel behind, you have to keep in mind the alternative story that D.H. Lawrence tells us in Women in Love. In the same way we are dealing with love in the upper class of the very rich before the First World War and then after before the big crisis of 1929. I will not compare the two here but the two films also came out in the same period, the early 1970s after the 1968 political and generational crisis. They both carry the denunciation of the upper class.
We are telling the story from an outside point of view but yet close to the protagonists. The story teller, Mr. Nick Carraway, is a neighbor of Mr. Jay Gatsby and a bond seller in Wall Street, New York. Nothing to do with present time golden boys, the traders in Brokerage firms. Well-off but definitely not rich and anyway with no rich parents. Yet he is the cousin of another woman who is from an extremely rich family, married to an extremely rich man. Gatsby is the black sheep in the neighborhood.
He is from an extremely poor family. He managed to get an Oxford education after 1918 because he became an officer and was heavily decorated during the war and he then took advantage of veterans' privileges. He had also the chance to fall in the hands of a certain Meyer Wolfsheim who introduced him to business, though we are never told what that business really is. We can imagine, due to the speed with which he became rich (less than eight years) that it had to be in some financial speculation in the 1920s. That period is clearly identified with the paraphernalia of the time and with the music, including the dancing, including the famous song Charleston. Note that Jay might not be a real first name, but an initial and that the name Gatsby is not the real name of the man who was the son of a certain Mr. Gatz we see at the end. Note too that the name Wolfsheim is of course meaningful and the main principle of this man is "we can be a friend of a man when he is alive, but not when he is dead."
At the end of WWI, Jay Gatsby, alias Major Gatz, fell in love with Daisy, a rich girl. But he was a poor man. She fell in love with him on a short-lived whim and he fell in love with her forever. But a rich girl does not marry a poor boy, as she says so well. So he disappears to build a fortune and she got married to a rich boy and became Mrs. Daisy Buchanan. She had promised to wait but rich girls never wait.
When he is finally rich he manages to get close to her and then to be introduced to her by her cousin, Nick Carraway, and before he had tried to attract her attention by having enormous garden parties every week end in that summer of 1926 or 1927. She eventually falls in the trap.
The rest is to be discovered in the film, or the book.
The morality, bad word, the immorality of this film is that in spite of the American Dream, rich people attract and mix with rich people and poor people can only eventually be accepted when they are rich. The second lesson is that rich people with a rich pedigree can always manage to get through any crime or accident or whatever particularly by pointing at another of their class but that does not have the rich pedigree they have. This immorality can even be worse: rich men can have as many poor mistresses they will furnish with some luxury as much, and as many, as they want or can afford. But a rich woman is not supposed to have any affair with a rich man of any sort, and she will not condescend to have an affair with a poor man. It would not be in anyway anything but a short and exciting sexual episode that would be doomed even before it starts, and like the praying mantis she would destroy the poor lover after using it.
In other words a woman is the property of her husband but in no way the husband is the property of his wife, and social inequality is absolute in the USA, just like in Great Britain, in the 1920s just the way Henry James described it in his novels more than thirty years before. Nothing has changed.
The narrator is able to express this immorality and that is the only moral element in this film, and novel. Morality is on the side here of the upper middle class, and a lower stratum in that upper middle class. That means there may be some hope for such a society that is doomed because the rich do not care for their neighbors in all the meanings of this word. They only care for their money and the gossips that can be aired around them about them.
This older film shows these elements with great care but at the same time it is obvious Jay Gatsby is not natural as a rich man. He is not able to play the game properly: he is awkward, he is shy, he is inconsiderate in his presents and in his lavish help he may give to someone who is trying to make him realize one of his intentions or desires. One hundred white roses are not even enough in such a situation and he very well may send one thousand. The dialogue is good too in the fact that Jay Gatsby is the only one who has a linguistic idiosyncratic tick and he calls every man "old sport" and such an Oxfordian tic shows in him a rather recent integration in the class of the super rich: he cuts a role, a character, a behavior and sticks to it: he believes in a way the tuxedo makes the money aristocrat. And he is wrong: the money aristocrat is in the careless and nonchalant way he wears the tuxedo and that cannot be imitated.
All together a beautiful but cruel film on the egocentric selfishness of the super rich born super rich.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2010
It's obviously a treat to sit and watch a Scott Fitzgerald adaptation but there are mixed blessings here. The film certainly carries the atmosphere of the book and there is some wonderful acting, but the impact of the film is far weaker than that of the book. Robert Redford seems uncomfortable playing the role of Gatsby; Mia Farrow, on the other hand, throws herself into her role as Daisy Buchanan but is not really the Daisy of the novel. She's a flapper, certainly, but lacks the money orientated charisma of Fitzgerald's Daisy. The best acting goes to the supporting cast.
Some fantastic Fitzgerald lines are preserved but lack delivery. Daisy's dark question about what there is to do in the afternoon, the next day, and the next thirty years, is completely squandered. Gatsby's hysterical diffidence about meeting Daisy after a several year gap is almost completely omitted other than the line `This is a big mistake'. The only way that the film adds to the book is that Sam Waterston's Nick Caraway works so very well. Also, with perfect delivery, Tom accuses Gatsby of being Mr Nobody from Nowhere (and this line is important as it will devastate Gatsby). The oppressive heat and wild parties too are exactly right.
The film ends with the popular interpretation of who kills Gatsby, whereas the book leaves it open to other interpretations. But overall, well worth watching, but it was always going to equal the book.