Grant Mitchell

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel has been brought to the silver screen on two notable occasions. Once was in 1974 with Hollywood relic Robert Redford playing the mysterious lead character Gatsby, while the one I will be talking about is 2013’s “The Great Gatsby,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

I don’t want to go out and necessarily say that Redford’s Gatsby character and the film in which he inhabited were wildly dull and drab, but that is exactly what I have to say in order to be fully transparent with both you and myself.

The 1974 film adaptation of Fitzgerald’s work was just such a dry film, that it’s premise and lead character were forgotten beneath a sea of uninteresting dialogue and soulless iterations of characters from a classic literary work.

Not to mention, one very personal gripe I have about the film is that the 1974 version had an abundance of pastel pink used in clothing and décor shown in the film.

I’m not sure if that color proliferated the screen as much as it seemed, but the use of the color felt like the ‘70s avant-garde and often ugly fashion clawed its way into the movie.

This is the first major contrast in which the 2013 edition of “The Great Gatsby” felt like a roller coaster of 1920’s ambition and energy splashed on the screen with its vibrant colors and epic parties, whilst its 1974 predecessor felt like a dud.

Additionally, all of the characters and their mannerisms feel a lot truer to the time. The bombastic atmosphere of the 2013 version brought to life the imagery and vibrancy that is so palpable in Fitzgerald’s work.

While the 2013 film also showed some artistic license in presentation of the story of Jay Gatsby, it didn’t clash with the era or the characters like the 1974 Gatsby film did so often and blatantly.

Where many criticism fell upon the inclusion of more modern music in the 2013’s “The Great Gatsby,” I rather liked how the inclusion of rap music amplified the atmosphere in some of the speakeasies visited and roadways traversed.

While again not all the music was accurate to the era, all of it was a perfect fit of the atmosphere and energy presented in both the novel and 2013 film iteration of “The Great Gatsby.”

Of course, let me also pat Leonardo DiCaprio on the back for his gripping and, at times, heartbreaking performance as Jay Gatsby in the film. DiCaprio’s take on Gatsby is certainly the most authentic we have seen in any adaptation regarding Gatsby’s bottled up rage, as well as his tender heart for Daisy.

My problems with the film, however, also begin to arise around this time.

Now I don’t have a problem with Carey Mulligan’s Daisy in the slightest, what I have a problem with is how weak the female characters are in “The Great Gatsby.”

While the original novel doesn’t really have much complex characterization for the female characters, one would have hoped that the 2013 adaptation would have also taken creative license in giving the female characters of “The Great Gatsby,” some actual importance.

Unfortunately, their significance to the plot outside of being fawned over or tragically killed by the male protagonists is just as lacking in the 2013 version as it is in the original 1925 novel.

While that certainly presents some levels of hollowness and a soapy and unrealistic exchange of dialogue in some instances, my opinion of the 2013 movie remains intact, mostly.

Come to think of it, very few films have captured the Roaring ‘20s and its equally active underbelly as interestingly or vividly as 2013’s “The Great Gatsby” did.

It is because of that, along with DiCaprio being as captivating as he is in any role, that I recommend this stylized film to anyone looking for a thrill and kick as unrelenting and turbulent as the real 1920s were.

Grant Mitchell is a senior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

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