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Baz Luhrman’s Great Gatsby: Chapter 2 Problems

What to watch & what to skip

If you’re like me, you cringe a little inside whenever Chapter 2 of Baz Luhrman’s 2013 The Great Gatsby begins. Thankfully, (or regretfully?) it happens only fourteen minutes in from 14:27-22:50, so you can get it over with and proceed with the movie that overwhelmingly every student looks forward to watching.

But here’s the deal: Chapter 2 is tricky.

Luhrman’s creative vision for Chapter 2 was over the top. To put it simply, you may want to avoid the awkwardness and potential controversy that the approximately eight minutes presents.

In fact, Luhrman’s Chapter 2 should probably be rated R since it pushes the PG-13 boundary so strongly.

After all, Chapter 2 contains:

It’s a Jazz Age Festival of Bacchanalia that is almost startling in its intensity; therefore, it might be crossing the line for your students and school environment.

Sure, if they’ve read the book, students know there’s a party in Tom and Myrtle’s apartment in Chapter 2, but Luhrman leaves nothing to the imagination with what is depicted in those scenes from 14:27 to 22:50. In fact, since students aren’t expecting Luhrman’s filmed version to heighten the action in the chapter to such an extreme degree, it can take them aback, so you may feel like skipping it altogether.

However, if you skip all of Chapter 2, you do miss these all-important moments from the first three minutes:

Yes, the opening three minutes of Chapter 2 are helpful, but the rest of the chapter contains some questionable moments that you may wish to avoid.

Use this post to decide what to skip and what to show your students.

Here is the Chapter 2 play-by-play:

Enter Gatsby in my search bar at the bottom of this post for a slew of posts all about teaching The Great Gatsby.

Here’s what Common Sense Media has to say about Luhrman’s version of The Great Gatsby:

Parents need to know that director Baz Luhrmann‘s (Moulin Rouge) take on The Great Gatsby is a decadent, dizzying version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel. The movie is true to the book, featuring scenes with lots of drinking — often to excess — and smoking. There’s not too much swearing (though some soundtrack song lyrics include infrequent use of “s–t” and “f–k”), but expect some violence (a man punches another, a car hits a woman head-on, and a character shoots another) and sexuality. Couples — including people married to others — are shown kissing and in bed (bare shoulders). Leonardo DiCaprioTobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan star; that, plus the movie’s hip soundtrack and lush style, are likely to make it very appealing to teens.

common sense media

Despite this warning, Chapter 2 contains a good portion of the explicit questionable content in the film. It’s the main chapter to be wary of.

I hope this post helps you plan for showing The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrman as part of your Gatsby unit. This movie is a student favorite and I wouldn’t want your students to miss out on this exciting film. Use this post to select what to show and what not to show. You know your students better than anyone.

Leave a comment below or on my Contact Page to throw in your two cents on this post. How do you approach Chapter 2 of Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby?

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