Here are 23 questions and one writing task for students viewing the 2013 movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby. The viewing guide assumes that students have read the novel and are prepared to make analytical comparisons. Print the PDF as shown or customize as necessary.
The Great Gatsby Viewing Guide
The Great Gatsby Movie Questions
1. (0:03:06) The filmmakers frame the telling of The Great Gatsby as a talk therapy session between Nick Carraway and his psychiatrist. What are your initial thoughts on this addition?
2. (0:11:20) What do you think of the characters as shown so far? Are they what you imagined while reading the novel?
3. (0:15:20) Which literary symbol has already made an appearance?
4. (0:22:30) How is the party at Myrtle and Tom’s apartment different in the film?
5. (0:29:58) What does the soundtrack add to the scene of Gatsby’s party? How does the film use music and sound effects for the revelation of the title character?
6. (0:39:40) Describe the camerawork and editing of Nick and Gatsby’s ride to the city.
7. (0:48:18) The film changes Nick. It diminishes his wealth and increases his innocence and naivety (lack of understanding). Do these changes make sense to you? Explain.
8. (0:55:00) The reunion between Daisy and Gatsby is critically important to the novel. Did the filmmakers succeed in capturing this moment? Explain.
9. (0:58:11) Poor Nick stands in the rain in the dark, yet his cottage glows in the sunshine. What is the meaning of this composition?
10. (1:04:14) What happens visually to the green light in this scene?
11. (1:18:32) Gatsby leaves Daisy in the middle of a party to deal with a business matter. What impact does this new detail have on the characterization?
12. (1:23:00) What are the film devices used in this flashback / montage?
13. (1:33:44) What do you think of the filmmakers’ vision for The Valley of the Ashes?
14. (1:49:29) Does the film increase or diminish the mystery surrounding George Wilson’s decision to murder Gatsby?
15. (1:54:40) Did you find Daisy more sympathetic in the book or in the film? Explain.
16. (2:02:00) How is Gatsby’s death different in the film? (Hint: The phone call is new.)
17. (2:05:15) What do you think of the decision to omit Gatsby’s father and the funeral?
18. Which actors delivered the best performances? Assign a grade to each.
Explain one or more of your judgments.
19. Audiences know Baz Luhrmann for his anachronistic mashing of period subjects and contemporary elements. Does this work for his adaptation of The Great Gatsby? Did the stylistic updates (visuals, music, dancing, etc.) work for you as a viewer? Explain.
20. Aside from the medium (film), what is the biggest change made in this adaptation?
21. Which theme from the novel receives the most attention in the film?
22. What is one strength of this film adaptation?
23. What is a major weakness of this film adaptation?
The assignment below builds on the The Great Gatsby viewing handout by asking students to write an analytical essay of comparison. To add engagement, this composition takes the form of a film review. This task aligns beautifully to the Common Core standard Reading Literature 7:
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text.
The Great Gatsby Film Review (2013 film)
RL7 Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Compare Interpretations
W1A Writing Argument: Organizing Information
Write a review of the 2013 film adaptation based on your expert knowledge of The Great Gatsby. What grade (A+ to F-) would you give this movie? What did the filmmakers get right? What are the film’s shortcomings?
Make sure to…
• Organize an effective argument. Defend your judgement (A+ to F-).
• Compare the original and the film adaptation.
• Support your conclusions with details from the film and details from the novel.
• Use appropriate key terms (theme, editing, effects, symbol, acting, camerawork, etc.)
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