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Oscar®Oscar® Winner for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design

The Great Gatsby

MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance Drama Adaptation 3D
2 hr. 22 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 10, 2013
DVD: August 27, 2013
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The Great Gatsby is a novel by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that takes place in 1922, during the Roaring Twenties.

This is the sixth time this novel has been made into a film.

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wealth and excess

Prohibition era

sin and the Bible

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Featuring Leonardo DiCaprioJay Gatsby
Isla FisherMyrtle Wilson
Carey MulliganDaisy Buchanan
Joel EdgertonTom Buchanan
Jason Clarke … George Wilson
Tobey MaguireNick Carraway
Adelaide Clemens … Catherine
Callan McAuliffe … Young Jay Gatsby
Gemma Ward … Languid Girl
Elizabeth Debicki … Jordan Baker
Amitabh Bachchan … Meyer Wolfsheim
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Director Baz Luhrmann—“Moulin Rouge!”, “Australia,” “Strictly Ballroom”
Producer Bazmark Films
Red Wagon Productions
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Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures

The year is 1929. The story begins at a psychiatric ward with our storyteller, Nick Carraway, narrating his experiences and memories concerning his time spent in New York City during the “Roaring Twenties,” particularly his time spent with the mysterious Jay Gatsby…

Flashback to the year 1922—we hear Nick speak about his time before meeting Jay Gatsby. We learn about Nick’s move from the Midwest to New York City to work on Wall Street. He speaks of his new home and how he lived next door to Gatsby, a man who would throw the most extravagant parties, a man considered wealthy beyond comparison, yet who would always keep himself hidden from society, even from his own party guests. Nick’s curiosity about Jay is soon satisfied, as he receives an invitation from Gatsby himself to come to one of his extravagant parties, where he meets Gatsby for the very first time. The two become good friends, over time, but questions still lurk in Nick’s mind, “Who is Gatsby? What is he hiding?” And that, my friends, serves as the primary drive of this film, as we learn about the mystery of the Great Gatsby.

“The Great Gatsby” is based on the literary classic of the same name written by Scott Fitzgerald. The book, itself, is considered a timeless classic by avid readers. It is little surprise that several adaptations, film and even stage adaptations, of this classic have been made.

I say this so that the viewer understands this version of “The Great Gatsby” is one of many, and, as such, must be viewed as a film entirely on its own and should not be compared to other versions that have been made over the vast years.

I honestly have never read the book, but was still intrigued by the movie. As such, I “Googled” the book and found a synopsis of The Great Gatsby, so that I could understand the film a little better when I went in.

Critics have not spoken highly of this film, criticizing that, it was a poor adaptation of a beloved classic. I disagree, mainly because I had never read the book. However, there are things, coming from a reviewer with little knowledge of the actual book, that I enjoyed and also elements that I disliked. As such, I will break down my thoughts.

Things I didn’t like about “The Great Gatsby” (2013):

  1. The pace of the film—I considered it inconsistent from time to time. In the beginning, some of the scenes literally race across the screen so quickly (e.g. characters talking quickly, flashbacks not being given enough time, etc.) that by the time I looked up from note taking, I was afraid I had missed something. Later, however, to my relief, the story slowed itself down to a gradual pace, so that I could stay interested.

  2. The music—During Gatsby’s parties, I noticed music of today (e.g. Pop and the like) were thrown in while people in the scene are dancing (sometimes the people would be dancing to something else). As a musician, and a little bit of a United States history fan, myself, I had to ask why the director chose to do this. Was it to give this version of the film a more “modern flare?” For me, it didn’t fit the story or the time period in which the story took place.

There are the things I liked about this film:

  1. The performances—The right actors were chosen for the right parts. Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor who studies a character, digs deep, and presents his character well and did so with Jay Gatsby. The only problem with him that I had was his New York accent. Earlier, I thought his accent was annoying, but later I understood that his accent was necessary to understanding him. I also would like to commend Tobey Maguire. His character is relatively silent during the flashback, and yet, I was still able to learn things about him. Carey Mulligan and Tom Buchanan also put in pretty decent performances.

  2. The scenery—The sets are a spectacle to behold. From the fine décor inside and outside Gatsby’s mansion, to the beauty of the Hudson River, I couldn’t help but appreciate the time spent to make the places look authentic.

Violence: Moderate to heavy. In the beginning we see Tom slap one of the characters, Myrtle, across the face (so hard, in fact, we see her body fly into the air and onto the table). After one of Jay’s parties, a guest is taken out to the front of the house and beaten. There’s one scene in which Jay loses his temper and nearly attacks Tom (stopping himself, however), breaking glass as he turns around to attack. ***SPOILER*** Toward the end of the film, Myrtle is seen being verbally and physically attacked by her husband (who’s in a jealous rage), runs into the road, where she is hit by Jay’s oncoming car and killed on impact. We later see her corpse, once the police have arrived. A main character is shot, and we see blood in the pool as well as the body; the killer also commits suicide afterward. ***END SPOILER***

Profanity: Moderate: I counted four instances where God’s name is taken in vain (twice in the form of “G*d-d**n”) (4 d*mns total), “for Chr*st’s sakes,” “My G*d,” OMG, “h*ll” (2), S.O.B. Song lyrics include an f-word, and some other vulgarities. Other questionable language includes Myrtle making a comment to Tom, after he slaps her buttocks, saying, “I’m not one of those models.” A comment is also made that Jay thinks of himself as the “Son of God.” Tom also mentions that Nick, after entering a room with women, should learn to “play ball with the girls and not sit on the sidelines.”

Sex/Nudity—between Moderate and heavy. While there are no prolonged sexual scenes, there is passionate kissing exchanged between Daisy and Jay, and there is a scene where they are seen in bed later (assumedly after having sexual intercourse). There’s a scene where Nick can hear moans and thudding coming from the floor above him. Nick kisses Catherine in one scene. Several women are seen in inappropriate outfits, some showing moderate amounts of cleavage and one woman wears a revealing outfit showing a lot of skin underneath.

Other Content for Concern: For those who are familiar with the book, there are multiple party scenes. In many of these scenes the characters are either drinking or have become drunk. There are also a few characters who are seen smoking cigars and cigarettes. Tom is mentioned to be cheating on Daisy. Gatsby is a man who is mentioned to be working in a dangerous organization called the Wolfsheim.

There is a central theme that surrounds “The Great Gatsby.” Money and possessions cannot buy everything, especially the true love of someone. Jay Gatsby had all this wealth, power, popularity and threw these parties to draw Daisy back to him so that they could be together. He believed he could buy Daisy’s love, after such a long absence, and refused to give up until they were together. Money and Earthly pleasures are not the essential focus of the Christian life. We cannot buy God’s love for us. There is no price. He loves us unconditionally and warns us to not fall in love with the world. There is no greater love than God’s love, and the best part is that His love is free. It can never be bought.

During the closing credits, some people clapped in appreciation and enjoyment of “The Great Gatsby.” While I was walking out though, I couldn’t help but hear two members talking about the film and one mentioning that the film was awful. As for me? When the film finished, I sat there for about two minutes, trying to make up my mind. It wasn’t as simple as whether or not I liked it, because, at the moment, I honestly didn’t know. Looking back at it now though? I thought it was pretty well done. Parts of the film worked and other parts didn’t.

I don’t really recommend “The Great Gatsby,” unless you have read and enjoyed the book. This is not a movie for children by any means, due to the offensive content mentioned. My final thought—save your money and wait for it to come out at your local rental box.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I enjoyed the movie overall. It followed the plot of the book faithfully. The director made the visuals look so appropriate for the period, the modern music on the soundtrack didn’t make any sense and took you out of the movie. As far as morals, it’s not a family friendly film due to the above mentioned sexual content. Although I appreciate Fitzgerald’s message about the emptiness of the partying lifestyle and the life of materialism, which he was a part of. If you are a fan of The Great Gatsby novel like I am, I would recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Keith, age 34 (USA)
Positive—I recently saw the 1974 version starring Robert Redford, and, though I really liked it, I found this new version even better. There is no nudity in the movie, and there is not a lot of cursing either. Subject material is mature and sexual, at times, but not explicit. The costumes and scenery are breathtaking. The acting was wonderful and I think that Leo should get the Oscar for best actor and that the movie should be nominated for a Best Picture award.

The movie uses a lot of modern music instead of 20’s music, not sure why on that, but it’s still a great movie. Very entertaining. Morally I give it better than average, because nothing is explicit, and, like in real life, there are bad consequences to bad choices; I find that biblical.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Debbie, age 51 (USA)
Positive—This movie blew me away, I had to watch it twice today, I didn’t know anything about the book, but I will read it now. Decaprio was incredible, the music was perfect, I was laughing and crying at the same time several times during the movie. Jay and Daisy were both beautiful in this movie; it is one of the greatest movie of all time for me, and I’m 51. WOW, it will take a few days to get over this movie, I hope DiCaprio gets a best actor nomination; he deserves to win the Oscar.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
David Quinn, age 51 (USA)
Neutral—I’ve read the book and I thought it was solid adaptation. The story is about the tragic dream and end of jay Gatsby and the movie did justice to that aspect. Great acting, set designs and costumes. There are some objectionable content so I wouldn’t recommend this to a christian. Gatsby wanted to be with daisy but she was married and that’s the tragedy of it. He was never going to be with her so his dream ultimately led to nowhere but holding on to their memories together and false hope for a future together. The modern music may be weird in the set context but I liked it because it means this story isn’t just set in the 20’s but it will hold on to people’s hearts for eternity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Michael, age 18 (USA)
Neutral—This was a very intense movie, definitely made for 3-D, if you are going to see it. It’s a hard one to rate, because of the issues in it. There was definitely way too much sexual stuff in it, more then I had expected. The filming was very good, and it was suspenseful. Issues not surprising for people of the world and not serving Christ. The emptiness of alcohol and parties… don’t miss that lifestyle.

It was a well made movie, and Leonardo has turned into quite an actor back from his “Titanic” days. The movie is mostly a romance, which I didn’t know that. It does have to do with adultery, on both sides, so not keen on that idea. Not much, actually, I don’t remember any cursing. Did expose real issues with people of the world, though. Overall, it was a well made movie, just be prepared for the above things. Good one for video, so you can fast forward the sexual stuff. So NOT needed in movies!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Samantha, age 39 (USA)
Neutral—I’ve never liked The Great Gatsby. It’s a story full of damaged people living out purposeless lives. It’s part tragic love story and part exploration of the meaninglessness of an existence without God. But this is the only adaptation I’ve ever seen that made me like the characters and emotionally invest in them.

It’s a gorgeous film, beautifully staged and photographed, every moment of it a lush visual masterpiece. I didn’t mind the modern music, and thought the cast was perfect. It’ll shock those who haven’t read the book with its darkness in the second half, and it’s unfortunate that there is some sexuality, because it’s really very thought-provoking, if only to remind us that you can’t buy love.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Charity, age 30 (USA)
Negative—I was very disappointed with the message of this movie. The only arguably redeeming thing about it is that it does demonstrate how sin has consequences. There are four people who commit adultery in the movie; I won’t spoil the consequences, but there are consequences as a result! But just because that’s in the plot doesn’t mean that the film wants to teach that Biblical principle. The audience is made to be sorry for the people who cheat on their spouses. It’s kinda scary how well the movie makes you root for them, even though what they’re doing is abominable!

I was pleased to see consequences of sin happen, and I thought that maybe this movie would be a good watch. But then, at the end, Gatsby is praised for being hopeful. For persevering, even if that meant sinning. The film doesn’t specifically say that cheating on your spouse is okay, but it does nothing to present it as morally evil. It’s more of a Romeo-&-Juliet-style tragedy than a lesson about the consequences of adultery. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Gabriel Mohler, age 25 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I watched this movie, and I really enjoyed it and would like to see it again. I thought the acting in this was superb. This movie was very well filmed and the scenery throughout the film was vivid and excellent. The objectionable content is all that the reviewer said, and the film would have been much better without it all. However, it does all go to show that riches and loose living doesn’t always make you happy. I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it for people over 14-15.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Connie, age 16 (United Kingdom)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I haven’t seen the film, only the previews. It looks entertaining to watch, but I already know that there are many offensive things about this film. Hollywood will do anything to draw people in to a dark theater and entertain them. What I can’t understand is that films that have every evil, worldly attachment is given some light and credit on this Christian movie review sight. If the Lord’s name is taken in vain, automatically that is a red flag, and should be avoided at all costs. Why the reviewer considered the language moderate is beyond my understanding. As Christians, we need to take a serious stand and stop supporting Hollywood’s deceptive tricks. We have purpose in life, and that is to live not of the world.
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality:
Andre Wallace, age 37 (USA)
Positive—I have not seen this film, though I probably will when it is released on DVD. In fact, this comment is not so much about the movie, but the merit of literary works, and I hope that you, the reader, will lend me your ear long enough to consider what I say. I am a frequent visitor of the site. I enjoy the reviews, for the most part, as they help me decide whether or not to go see a movie. Now, I said “for the most part,” because inevitably there are viewers who write about the darkness and the maw that is Hollywood and how this cursed beast seeks to envelop all of humankind in a blanket of impenetrable evil. To this point I would like to say a few things. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality:
Hayden, age 17 (USA)
Negative—I watched the original Great Gatsby and read the book in 11th grade. Nick was the only decent character, as far as I remember. It’s nothing but a story of adultery and hedonism, all played out as an adventure. Nearly every character is ungodly, one way or another (except maybe Nick and Tom’s mistress’ husband, if my memory is right). Most of all, it’s just boring. The scenery in the original movie was beautiful, and maybe it is in this one. I’ll just Google New England images, if I want to see the scenery, rather than watch this movie.
Peter, age 23 (USA)

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