The 1974 adaptation of the critically acclaimed novel the Great Gatsby is directed by Jack Clayton and screenwriten by Francis Ford Coppola, with Robert and Mia Farrow as leads. The two actors give excellent performances, and certainly portray the beautiful people they are made out to be in the book. One scene in particular that reflected that Redford was was chosen for this part was when the Nick and Gatsby are in suits and Nick is perspiring in is utterly unsuitable manner of dress for the weather, while Gatsby remains cool as usual, not shedding a drop of sweat.
In addition Mia Farrow develops Daisy’s flighty character nicely, and she makes you love her but hate her at the same time very well. Another aspect of the film I found impeccable was the scenery, which centres on the lives of Americas decadent and spoiled. The scenery presents the idea that they have money than they need and they can do whatever they want whenever they want. Their scenery is a recreation of European historical grandeur, a fact that the film is keen to demonstrate. Symbolism in the movie was also awesome, I really appreciated how the director added a few twists of his own which I will come to shortly.
Particularly memorable is the scene where Daisy weeps over Gatsby’s shirts. Is she really weeping for their beauty ? This was really well done and hampered enough to make the viewers believe that someone could actually be so superficial. Also kudos to the director on the scene when the film visits the miserable gas-station home of Tom Buchanan’s lover, Myrtle. Here the colour drains from the film, serving as a sharp contrast to the rainbow spectrum of the richs world, where money reflects carelessness and happiness.
Also recall that owning a dog seems to be the ultimate fashion accessory of the time. The film has dogs running everywhere, a reflection I’m sure on their owners. But see if you can glimpse the scruffy mongrel that steals food from a table at one of Gatsby’s parties. Is this a reflection of how Gatsby got his fortune as suggested that he came upon it just like how the dog came across the food on the table. This was one metaphor I didnt catch in the book and I credit to Francis Ford Coppola the screenwriter.
Also the Clayton/ Coppola team portray the spectacles of T. J. Eckelberg nicely, making it obvious this is a symbol of obscured vision and poor judgement. I only have one real complaint about the film, the conflicts in the narrative voice. In the first half of the movie Nick was the narrator and then as the movie progressed it seemed that the camera slowly became the narrator. During Gatsbys and Daisys affair, they camera was the one who narrated all of that, whereas in the novel Nick had to rely on Jordan or even Gatsby himself to find out about the events that went on when he wasnt around, and these accounts were sometimes biased.
Deception and the ability of people to manipulate the way they are perceived by others are important themes in the novel. This was something that was totally missed by the director. I dont know how one would go about directing something like that, but it was very important and I was somewhat solemn that Jack Clayton couldnt somehow integrate it into the film. I guess in all I thought the film was pretty good, the acting and the set especially but I found the film lacked alot of substance that Fitzgerald created in the book.
But that happens in most movies that have psychological twists, where the complexes of characters are hard to display with real people trying to act them out. Also minor complaints are that I thought the start was very slow. It is true that all the other people are mere shadows of Gatsby and so only come to life after his arrival in the film. Another thing that I found a little irritating was that in the film they dont make Gatsbys suspicious past evident until halfway through the movie.