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The Great Gatsby– an English teacher’s critique

 

I saw The Great Gatsby with my Cohort a few days after it came out, and I’m having trouble deciding how I feel about the film adaptation.

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 9.24.52 PM
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros

 

I spent all of my student teaching educating tenth graders on The Great Gatsby. I fell in love with the Roaring Twenties and the lives of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda when I was also in tenth grade. The novel holds special meaning to me, and after spending so much time on it this past Fall, I was extremely excited to see the film.

 

I had a few things I was nervous about before seeing the film adaptation.

 

  1. I wasn’t sure if Leonardo Di Caprio was the best choice for Gatsby. I’m not sure what I pictured in my head as I imagined Jay, but it certainly wasn’t Leo.
  2. How could a score complied by Jay-Z capture the essence and history of the 1920s?!
  3. What sort of chemistry could Leonardo Di Caprio and Tobey Maguire possibly have on screen as Gatsby and Nick?
  4. What is going on with Joel Edgerton’s mustache??

 

We saw the film in an AMC Dine-In theater. We chose to see it in a “Cinema Suites” theater so we wouldn’t have to deal with teenagers.  Also, we thought we were classy drinking cocktails alongside of Jay Gatsby. 🙂

 

All in all, I thought the cinematography was beautifully done. Occasionally, the camera work was a bit shaky, which made me get a headache or feel nauseous, but only briefly.

 

Despite the fact that the music came from Jay-Z, the score was incredibly well done. The whole point of jazz music in the 1920’s was that it was controversial and ahead of the times. The Jay-Z score perfectly complimented the feeling of the film’s story, and I found myself enjoying it, a lot. I received the soundtrack to the film as a graduation gift, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop for the past week.

(You can also listen to some of it on the Youtube video embedded below.)

 

 

Finally, I really appreciated how, for the most part, the film stayed true to the book. There were some key moments and details that were changed or left out, which really agitated the English-teacher part of me and my friends, but people who hadn’t read the book really enjoyed the story of the film.

 

I really enjoyed this adaptation of The Great Gatsby. While it isn’t completely accurate to one of my favorite stories of all time, it has the potential to introduce new generations to Gatsby, Nick, Daisy, and the craziness of the novel. I would definitely use certain scenes from this film while teaching the book to my students, although I think the entire film may be a bit inaccurate or risqué to share with them.

 

I think I’ve decided that I have a love/hate relationship with this adaptation, but I definitely want to see it again.