Global Film – The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann was released in 2013 and was an instant success. The movie was based on the best selling novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and won many film awards such as an Academy award for best production design. The film sheds a light on universally recognised themes such as materialism, and the difficult nature of obtaining spiritual love in a world ravaged by superficiality.

In order to fully grasp the concepts within the film, audiences must have prior cultural knowledge of the setting which is the 1920’s. During the 1920’s there was an uprise in materialism, bootlegging, corruption and reckless party behaviour. After experiencing the pressures and conflict through World War 1, individuals were now given the economic liberty to live a more decadent and reckless lifestyle; this was particularly prevalent within upperclass America which is the branch of society portrayed throughout the film. Singh (2014, p.243-256) examines the importance of representation of themes such as poverty and culture in developing worlds through audiovisuals. By creating an accurate representation of developing cultures in the American 1920’s, content functions as an educational tool in which other cultures around the world can learn from.

The Great Gatsby not only portrays the upper class antics which were apparent during the time, but also explores how lower class citizens were making a living, and the different ideals which were prevalent. An example of this is Myrtle Wilson played by Isla Fisher, a woman who favours materialism and ‘party’ culture over loyalty towards her husband and their small business. This relates to the Global North and South divide as the wealthy are portrayed as the more ‘successful’ and are majorly caucasian and the working class are primarily of other races which is largely analogous with our global divides today.

Perdikaki (2018, p.169) explores the role of translation in the cycle of cultural dissemination, as well as the importance which adaptations of The Great Gatsby hold within the “cultural polysystem”. Prior to Gatsby’s release in Greece, an adapted, translated version was published. Perdikaki suggests that the novel was relevant enough to be “retranslated in a period when Greece was going through socioeconomic turmoil” and that the release of the adaptation may have been encouraged by “the flow of narratives in the adaptation system” (Perdikaki 2018, p. 169). This information emphasises the interconnectedness between global film and the importance of adaptation in global diversity and culture.

This film represents the changing global cultures and ideals which has led to education and emphasis on the importance of knowledge surrounding culture and its affects. The film was also adapted in a fashion that enabled other countries and cultures to experience life in the American 1920’s. I believe that it is essential for film’s and other forms of media to express culture’s within certain circumstances, and educate on the apparent North and South divides in order for societies to further understand historical contexts and experiences.

Sources used:

Perdikaki, K n.d., ‘Film adaptation as the interface between creative translation and cultural transformation: The case of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby’, JOURNAL OF SPECIALISED TRANSLATION, no. 29, pp. 169–187, viewed 15 August 2019, <;

Singh, JP 2014, ‘Development Remix: Representing Poverty, Culture, and Agency in the Developing World’, International Studies Perspectives, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 243–256, viewed 20 August 2019, <;.

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