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The Jazz Age was a period in America after World War One up until the Depression in 1929, also known as the Roaring 20ies. It was a period of stark contrasts in America life. On the one hand there were the sober-minded conservatives who succeeded in having the 18th Amendment passed in 1919 – that is prohibition, and on the other hand it was a time of reckless opulence and vulgar extravagance.

 

 

In the novel Fitzgerald focuses on the materialism 1920’s society – he portrays American life in this period as been both vulgar & dazzlingly promising. The film also concentrates on the idea of the Jazz age, showing long, elaborate party scenes of dancing and drunkenness as well as extended shots of girls' legs when dancing. However, the society represented in the film reflects that of 1970s America, when the film was made.
The novel makes a strong distinction between new and old money -> new money could never be in the same class as old money. This is where the vulgarity of Gatsby’s parties and the society that attends them is important.

The film doesn’t seem to make this distinction as clearly, it focuses more on appearance and the importance of always looking good.

 

Another example of this is at one of Gatsby’s parties where Tom comments that many of the right people were present – one of the most important of these was a movie producer. This seems to be synonymous with 1970’s (and present day) America, where celebrities are the new upper class.