When most children these days think of a film from around the 1970’s they imagine a black and white film, which is sped up to twice the pace of normal life. However this is just an assumption that is not true. To see the real glory and power of film production from the 70’s a film such as The Great Gatsby directed by Jack Clayton proves just how wrong the idea of films of that era are. In this essay I am going to discuss whether or not the vast budget available to the director took out the idea of the film.
I am going to concentrate on the angles that the film was shot from, the lavishness of the whole film, the way the acting may have been affected by this lavishness and if the storyline is still believable under all the effects. The film was never intended for small screen showings such as art-cinemas and was always aimed for the box-office audiences. Even people who had not read Fitzgerald’s book could be drawn in because of the big names of the time period. Mia Farrow and Robert Redford were cast for the parts of Daisy and Gatsby.
The actors were very important as each character needed to be shown in a certain way. I believe that Robert Redford transformed himself into Jay Gatsby and made me believe for the length of the film that Gatsby really existed. Though, unknown to me as I have not read the book, I found that Mia Farrow almost over acted the part of Daisy as I felt she was too hysterical and too eccentric but that could have been the way Fitzgerald intended her to be played. The big budget was shown throughout the film at almost every stage.
For example take the less notable point of the drive to town. There were many cars from the period of the 1920’s on the road. Though this may not show lavishness it expresses the extent of the directors idea of making the film authentic and showing period detail. Also a point that can be made about that is all of the cars were black whereas Tom Buchannon’s and Jay Gatsby’s were different. This shows the difference in class within the 20’s as only very rich people could afford such cars.
Before the actual journey I felt like there was a bit of competition between Tom and Gatsby. Gatsby tells Tom to take his car and Tom replies, “I only drive cars with a certain transmission. ” I think this shows an example of “boys with toys” attitude and the power money has over men such as Tom. I also think it shows Tom trying to over power Gatsby and maybe even impress Daisy. Another example of the big budget is the parties Gatsby throws. Even by today’s standards a party like that of Gatsby’s would be considered very lavish and expensive to plan and take place.
This shows the budget size to an extreme almost. In the scene where Nick Carraway goes to a party for the first time the acting produced by him was very good. He showed us the party well by exploring every part of the house, grounds and the facilities such as the tent and fountain. Also within the party an idea of authenticity was introduced by the choreography that was shown through the dancing. The camera angles also played an important job of getting the glory of the party across and in some way it welcomed us to join in.
For example the long shot of the house lit up showed us just the extent of the wealth and power Gatsby possessed. The extravagant party shows us how much Gatsby wanted to find Daisy and shows that with the right amount of money available to you, what love can do to you. Although all of the lavishness and attention to detail may bring the idea of authenticity to the film I feel that it detracts from the story and the acting. The film could have got away with less experienced actors and maybe been as popular. The film seemed to revolve around the love between Gatsby and Daisy.
The director and producers concentrated on Daisy and Gatsby spending time together and being intimate, whereas I believe the film would have benefited from concentrating on the storyline rather than making it very extravagant and appealing to people who enjoy love stories. Though this idea of glory gave us an insight to the effect of the boom for the rich and wealthy in the 20’s the opposite of that was shown in the garage that Myrtle lives in. The acting in the film was very convincing. Although I have never met actors such as Robert Redford and Bruce Dern I assume that they are different to the way the characters were in the film.
Bruce Dern for example was very convincing in the part of Tom Buchannon. I believed he was a money consumed individual with no feelings for anyone else other than his own. Robert Redford convinced me that Gatsby was a very nice person and he did everything for Daisy’s love. The scene from the whole film that stuck in my head the most was the murder of Gatsby. When the husband of Myrtle was walking towards Gatsby with the gun I felt almost sadness as Gatsby seemed like a really nice person and I could imagine him as a friend.
The murder was very graphic and I believe it took the film away from the lavishness and brought the viewers back down to the brutality of the storyline that lay beneath the big budget. Overall I believe that the film was very successful though it had a few faults such as the lavishness detracting from the storyline and the acting, though the actors themselves shone in the film by adding there own interpretation of the characters to the screen. The camera angles and the sound effects would have added to the experience in the cinema and allowed the audience to feel part of the film.
This idea of being part of the film was created by the narrator Nick Carraway. He was the neutral character who just leads us through the film and gives us his own view on everything that happened. The director aimed the film at people who had read the book but also at people who may not appreciate the works of Fitzgerald, by producing a visual film. I believe the film is a very good interpretation of the life of the 20’s with symbols of the period such as the Model T Ford cars used throughout but also the symbol of the wealth that some people possessed during the 20’s such as different cars and lovely houses.
This all added to the authenticity of the film. I believe the flow of the film was slowed down by the intimacy between Gatsby and Daisy and also maybe the idea of making it fit with the 20’s so closely. The film was well produced at a high standard but due to the fact I have not read the book, only been told that it looses the storyline a bit, I cannot say whether or not the film could be improved by sticking to the story or not.