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Postmodernism Journal

In The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are various uses of

elements of Modernism. Filmmakers put a 21st-century spin on a Modernist
classic. Various techniques of Postmodernism are seen in the film, The Great
Gatsby. One of these elements is Temporal Distortion, where writers and
filmmakers use non-linear timelines and narrative techniques to convey a
brilliant story. The movie opens with Nick reflecting on his time with Gatsby
to doctor in a sanitarium. For example, he says, back then we all drank too
much (Lurhmann, Pearce 1). This is alluding to his time with
Gatsby. Periodically throughout the movie, viewers see Nick in the sanitarium
years later and him in the time he is remembering and reflecting on. This
perfectly exemplifies the traits of Temporal Distortion, as the filmmaker uses
the non-linear timeline of Gatsby in the sanitarium, then reflecting back on
his time in West Egg. These unique narrative techniques put a different
perspective on the movie, making it obviously post-Modernism.
Another element of Postmodernism is seen in the film The Great Gatsby.
This element is called authorial self-reference, which is the narrators time
they are involved in and people they interact with during that time. This is
perfectly shown in the Postmodern movie, The Great Gatsby because Nick
himself is the narrator of the story. Not only is he character that is constantly
involved in the story, but also an outside voice as the narrator. When he
is reflecting back on his life with Gatsby and in the West Egg,
he repeatedly references himself, making him somewhat bias. Nick gets to
give viewers and readers the first impression on other characters, playing a
big role in the movie as a whole. This is different in the book, as Nick is seen
more on the outside of things, as he says Thirty the promise of decade of
loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of
enthusiasm, thinning hair (Fitzgerald 135). This quote clearly shows the
isolated life that Nick believes he lives, and how he knows he will always be
the outsider. This is different in the movie, as we see that Nick lives a life
where he feels connected and his self-reference is much different than that
of the book. Overall, the movie is unique because of its Post-modernistic
Lastly, Magical Realism is a technique seen in the Post-modernistic movie
of The Great Gatsby. This element portrays the impossible or unrealistic
events into a narrative that is otherwise realistic. An event in the book that is
unrealistic is the West Egg and the East Egg. These are not real places,
yet they contribute to an important theme of money in The Great Gatsby. For
example, as Nick explains the history of the eggs: I lived at West Egg, the
less fashionable of the two then there was East Egg that glittered along the
water (Fitzgerald 5), he is explaining a magically, yet realistic, part of the
Postmodern movie. This is an important trait of Post-modernism, as it
engages a contemporary audience. This contemporary audience, different to
that of the Modern audience in the book, is engaged because of its use of
imagery and common filming techniques to portray the story to the best

possible detail. Post-modern people live in a world where escaping reality is

all they want, so showing this in the film, The Great Gatsby, is really
important to many viewers. Overall, Post-modernism reigned the late 20th
and early 21st century as a movement that is marked, both stylistically and
ideologically, and is perfectly exemplified in The Great Gatsby through
temporal distortion, authorial self-reference, and magical realism.