The classic novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and the movie (2013) of the same title directed by Baz Luhrmann focuses on a man named Jay Gatsby, the perfect embodiment of the American dream, spending years of his life trying to reunite with and pursue his lost love, Daisy Buchanan. The two mediums both focus on the downfalls of characters as a result of an upper-class society love triangle but there are also many differences between the film and the novel. In the film, the author unapologetically makes Gatsby die in despair and tragedy, while Luhrmann alters the scene to focus on emotional responses from his audience and the romantic aspect of the novel. In the film, Jordan Baker becomes an unimportant character to keep the focus on the main characters while in the novel she is more prominent and easily contrasts Daisy. Lastly, Luhrmann also alters Nick to narrate the story as if he had already experienced it to have audience members asking more questions, rather than following him around and seeing his reaction as the events unfold in front of him as in the book.
To begin with, in the novel Gatsby waits for Daisy’s call for over an hour, his neighbor after being informed of the death says “I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it would come…he must have felt that he had…paid a high price for living too long…and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is” (Fitzgerald 169) The reader can see that Gatsby never expected a call, in fact, he accepted the idea of not receiving one. Rather he continued swimming, bathing in nothing but the regret he now had built up from pouring all his time and attention into pursuing Daisy. The oxymoron of a “grotesque rose” refers to Daisy and allows the reader to see how Gatsby’s vision of her had drastically changed within a short period of time. The girl who he once saw as beautiful and desirable in every way now is a thought he laughs at since realizing the unlikelihood of it. Fitzgerald unapologetically makes him die an absolute loser who wasted away his life surrounding himself with fake people and chasing one girl, only to end up with practically nothing.
In the film medium, Gatsby dies a dramatic death, just beginning to get out of his pool to answer a call whom he happily presumes is Daisy calling to agree to their plan of fleeing away. His parting words are “Daisy” as he’s shot and falls back into the pool never knowing the caller was actually his friend, Nick. Overall, Gatsby dies an absolute winner. He parts with life believing he got the love of his life and the only tragedy in the film is no one attending his funeral, but at the end of the day, he never knows that. By doing this, Luhrmann is able to make the film more romantic for mass audiences and acquire the goal of an emotional connection and sympathy from viewers. Consequently, the more bleak death scene of the novel better flows with the tragic ending and the events leading up to it, causing the overall storyline to have more of a powerful impact on its audience. Instead of creating a sympathetic ending for Gatsby which goes against Fitzgerald’s repeated criticism of the way of life of his characters and the overall American dream, as in the film.