The Great Gatsby

Adaptation and Transformation in Clayton's "Gatsby" 11th Grade

In his film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, director Jack Clayton develops F. Scott Fitzgerald’s comments on the society presented in the novel. Clayton’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby successfully articulates to a large extent the novel’s theme that the class structure of 1920s America is unjustly prejudiced toward immoral individuals and against honorable figures to criticize the corruption of wealth in upper-class society. To convey just this theme, Clayton departs from the Fitzgerald text in a few significant ways, but perhaps is more notable for his emphasis on the properties of the film medium in re-envisioning a literary work.

Through color, Clayton develops the upper-class obsession with wealth and power. The film opens with a shot of gold items on Gatsby’s dresser, items which correspond to the “toilet set” of “pure dull gold” (Fitzgerald 91) in the novel. The color gold, a traditional symbol of wealth, indicates Gatsby’s upper-class status and desire to display his wealth. While the gold objects appear toward the middle of the novel, the film immediately introduces them, effectively establishing Gatsby’s wealth from the beginning. The color gold in the shot is significant because it appears on Gatsby’s hair brushes...

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