The Great Gatsby

2 h 22 min2013X-RayPG-13
HD. Leonardo DiCaprio brings 'Gatsby' to new life in this stylish, colorful adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic.
Baz Luhrmann
Leonardo DiCaprioTobey MaguireCarey Mulligan
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Joel EdgertonIsla FisherJason Clarke
Baz LuhrmannCatherine MartinDouglas WickLucy FisherCatherine Knapman
Warner Bros.
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Violencealcohol usesmokingfoul languagesexual content
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4.7 out of 5 stars

25732 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

Michael BilowReviewed in the United States on May 23, 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
Wild exuberance preserves the tone of the novel even if it makes a lot of changes
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I finally got to see the new "The Great Gatsby" movie and was surprised at how good it was. I was expecting it to be awful given my opinion of director Baz Luhrmann's prior work, notably the insipid "[[ASIN:B000077VR3 Moulin Rouge!]]"

Although there were considerable liberties and abridgements taken with the story, the core of it was definitely preserved and, more importantly, the contradictory but simultaneously elegaic and exuberant tone of the novel was preserved.

Earlier adaptations, such as the [[ASIN:B00AEFY66U 1974 version with Robert Redford]], were so plodding as to be almost unwatchable. The 1974 movie makes the fatal mistake of being too realistic, reducing the whole affair to something like a Lifeiime television movie. That's exactly what you get from the novel if you distill the bare plot and characters but lose the tone, because the novel is ultimately structured as a nostalgic remembrance of lost hope. The deliberately unrealistic excitement of a period in time when anything seemed possible is the perfect environment for Baz Luhrmann.

In the new version, the cinematography and costumes mesh well to convey the excitement of the Jazz Age at its peak.

The music was surprisingly appropriate, the exact opposite of "Moulin Rouge," with George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" -- one of my all-time favorite pieces -- as a significant recurring motif. Even the new music, especially "Young and Beautiful," fits in well.

The movie is visually very impressive in a way that the novel cannot be, but it does conjure an imaginary and unrealistic world of grandiose excess that is worth seeing. The 3D gimmick is kind of pointless, but that is true for most movies.

Without spoiling anything, the opening credits begin in rough black and white with uneven lighting and flicker, very much like watching an old movie actually made in the 1920s, before the credits change to sharp and colorful gilded art deco designs. The effect is clever, making all of the flashy color that is the movie seem almost dreamlike, copying the elegaic tone of the novel. Eventually the closing credits reverse the effect back to fuzzy black and white.

Gatsby is an archetypal character whose purity and single-mindedness are his defining elements, creating a kind of naivety that distinguishes him from everyone around him -- and which eventually destroys him at the hands of those more cynical. One of the main reasons why the novel has become what it is today is that it presciently in 1925 understood that the Roaring 20s were an unsustainable party that must come to an end, which we know now from hindsight would happen with a horrific crash and decade-long hangover of the Great Depression. F. Scott Fitzgerald's almost puritanical discomfort with the Jazz Age, despite being its most enthusiastic contemporaneous chronicler, proved to strike just the right chord. A very good book about the 1920s Paris expatriate community (of which Scott and Zelda were prominent members) borrows a quote from a less well known writer as its title: "[[ASIN:0767903706 Everybody Was So Young]]."

The characters are all very dislikable, with the exception of Jay Gatsby himself. Nick Carraway is extremely self-critical, regarding himself as a failure. One of the most common criticisms of the novel is that Gatsby's interest in Daisy lacks credibility because she is something of a petulant child who needs to be taken care of, but of course she mirrors to some extent Scott's real-life wife Zelda and their co-dependent marriage. Regardless of the truth about Zelda, who was by all accounts a remarkably capable and intelligent woman, there can be no doubt that she was treated as someone who needed to be taken care of and eventually ended up confined to a mental hospital. I don't want to fall into the trap of misidentifying authors with their characters, but it seems clear that Scott intended Gatsby's interest is Daisy to be entirely credible, even if Gatsby's perception of her was idealized as a result of his naivety and boundless optimism.

The original novel is unstinting in its portrayal of the mistreatment of servants, which is intended to be offensive. What Scott Fitzgerald fully intended to condemn in 1925 looks even worse to us now, but it is an important part of the story and is an essential literary device used repeatedly to illuminate the defects of Tom Buchanan's character and worldview. The novel draws explicit parallels between Gatsby, as what would then be disparaged as a "self-made man," and the servants --- both of whom Tom believes are limited and inexorably predestined by their circumstances of birth. Indeed, one of the reasons Tom is so disgusted at being described as "the polo player" is because being known for what he does instead of how he was born degrades him, in his own view, to the level of competition with Gatsby and the servants.

I should explain somewhat my comment about "liberties and abridgements." There are a number of lines of narration and dialogue that, although quite widely known and remembered from the novel, are simply gone in the movie. The opening and closing text is preserved, as it had to be, but everything else was apparently up for challenge about inclusion.

Almost all of the subplots are removed, which reduces some of the characters to very minor status, especially Jordan Baker who in the novel is an iconic representation of the independent "new woman" that we might today call a "feminist," and is therefore a counterpart to narrator Nick Carraway who, although of respectable pedigree and a Yale alumnus, has to actually work for a living. The screenwriters were probably correct in thinking that this was of much less interest to the modern audience than it was when the novel was published. On the other hand, it makes some things incomprehensible, such as why Tom Buchanan gets so annoyed at being introduced as "the polo player."

The handling of the Meyer Wolfsheim character is outright bizarre, probably because there were fears of the portrayal being regarded as anti-Semitic despite the character unquestionably being based on the real-life Arnold Rothstein. For one thing, he is played by an actor whose ancestry is from India, a pretty extreme case of "funny, he doesn't look Jewish," and who is the only actor who seems to have any identifiable ethnicity with a speaking role that is not a black waiter. Odd things are changed, such as his cufflinks made from human teeth turning into a tie-pin, possibly because the screenwriters were worried that the modern audience would be too confused as to what cufflinks are, but the cufflinks are significant because they are something that would not be noticed immediately but when noticed would pierce the veneer of civility -- a major theme in the novel.

It's a vibrant, colorful movie that successfully evokes, if not the real Jazz Age, then our collective historical memory of it.
5 people found this helpful
Victoria HernandezReviewed in the United States on November 4, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
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This movie is so well written. It really catches the book and the detail. The soundtrack is the best part. I love this movie and it will forever be my favorite movie of all time. ALL TIME!!!!!!!!! I'm in love with this movie!!!!!
One person found this helpful
AM LinasReviewed in the United States on October 25, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Good way for students to understand setting
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It’s not exactly like the book, but it’s enough alike that if you have to read it for school you can get an idea of the story and a picture of the settings and characters. But still read the book bc it’s an amazing book, And a lil learnin’ never killed nobody.
One person found this helpful
andreaReviewed in the United States on November 12, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Hallie RentsmanReviewed in the United States on November 16, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great movie
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Love this movie
Amy M. LongReviewed in the United States on November 14, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Such a great read!
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Shewauna HenryReviewed in the United States on October 22, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Tragic but amazing
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The fact that a man will do whatever it takes for the love of his life and end up dying it’s tragic but the movie is very interesting I love it.
DarknoirReviewed in the United States on March 23, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Greatness Of Gatsby?
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***some spoilers herein***

For people unfamiliar with F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel and other film adaptations of it, this movie may have been a disappointment in terms of how it ended, perhaps because they were expecting an epic love story. In fact, in the book, the "romance" between Gatsby and Daisy is deliberately underplayed, it's more of an expose of the decadence and carelessness of the 1920s decade, and how the past simply cannot be recaptured, despite the actions that are taken in hopes of doing so. Baz Luhrmann's film does place a large amount of emphasis on the "love story" aspect, which may have led audiences to expect more than was ultimately delivered.

Not to say that this movie is not entertaining or good. It is, in many ways. Like other reviewers, I found the usage of hip-hop songs out of place, but luckily, the film does incorporate music that does seem to suit the era. Despite not being a period song, Lana Del Rey's "Young And Beautiful" works perfectly. The CGI does get a bit much at times, to the point where it looks unreal and a bit too much like animation, but it's still glorious to look at. I suppose that in a way, it was fitting as Fitzgerald was constantly describing light, natural and artificial, throughout "The Great Gatsby".

I can't think of another actor of the past few years who could have played Jay Gatsby other than Leonardo DiCaprio. While not a huge fan of the actor since my teenage years, there's no denying that he is a compelling presence on film. You believe that this self-made millionaire or whatever he was, achieved all that he did through blind ambition to win back his first love, Daisy (Carey Mulligan). I have to give Mulligan credit because Daisy is not an easy role to play, largely because the character was deliberately underwritten in the novel. There is a reason for this, because Daisy is idealized in Gatsby's eyes, as well as in the eyes of her cousin Nick Carraway (played here by Tobey Maguire, adequate but really nothing more), although to a lesser extent. Basically, Daisy is someone that others project their fantasies on to. Hence why I've never really believed that it was intended to be a love story, because it was not about real love, but trying to recapture the past, to achieve a dream and attempting to obtain the unobtainable. Gatsby does not truly love Daisy, but the image he had of her in his mind. Daisy, no matter what her feelings were for him could not simply walk away from her life; she was married to Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) and had a child with him. The differences between old money and new money aside, there was no way that her husband would ever have let her go, and at some point, Daisy does realize this. Gatsby never does.

Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke and Amitabh Bachchan all do reasonably well in their under-developed roles. Luhrmann clearly was busy focusing on Gatsby and Daisy's relationship, but it's curious that despite the love scenes, which are well-acted and beautifully photographed, they exhibit little on-screen chemistry. The actors tried, but it never quite comes off. Ironically, there are far more sparks between Mulligan and Edgerton, in spite of the fact that Daisy is unhappy in her marriage and Tom is a brutish philanderer. The way Daisy and Tom look at each other, respond and react to one another says far more than any speeches, declarations of love or "romantic moments" with Gatsby. While some may feel that Edgerton over did it in portraying Tom's brash ways, he does show vulnerability, particularly when Gatsby starts pressuring Daisy to claim that she never loved her husband. I've never found Tom to be particularly sympathetic, but Edgerton manages to pull it off, as does Mulligan. Daisy as a character is much maligned but when push comes to shove, she was trapped in the high-society mindset into which she was born, and never pretended to be anything she was not. It was Gatsby who refused to accept reality, and this what ultimately led to his downfall. In fact, even when Gatsby tells Nick about his past, we can't even be entirely sure he is telling the truth, as he is so prone to fantasy. We are also not sure as viewers what was inside Daisy's heart and mind, perhaps she loved both men, but had to make the choice that was best for her, but not without consequences.

The costumes and sets will literally take your breath away, but the exclusion of a few crucial scenes (one of which does show up in the deleted scenes section of the special features of the DVD) may have helped to clear some things up.

It's not my favorite film adaptation of the novel but it's not as terrible as some are making it out to be.
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