A self-made millionaire uses his ill-gotten fortune to win back his long lost love who has married into ‘old money’ and respectability.
That, it seems to me, is the nut of the story. The rest is wild parties and conspicuous consumption.
Despite the book’s reputation I’ve always been underwhelmed by the movie adaptations (1974, 2013) which seem to depend more upon spectacle than plot. The book concludes with one of the most famous sentences in American literature: So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Which is the quote on his gravestone in the cemetery where he is buried a few miles down the road from where I am typing this.
I like your brief and effective logline but most of all I like your expertise in the usage of hyphenated words. These 3 x examples reduce the word count to 25 or thereabouts and represent a story in themselves. It’s a good template to follow in articulation of brevity with impact.
Feels like you’ve clarified the main spine of the story in your logline, dpg.
I just finished watching the 2013 version and read portions of the script. The script was full of sound effects in all caps with multiple exclamation points–think that explains a lot of what I saw, and frankly disliked, in the movie.
Had a couple of questions.
Would like to know more about your decision to include “newly-minted” in the logline. What does it add that is not already covered by “self-made?”
Did you ever consider including Nick in the logline?
What audience did you have in mind for this logline? Since the time period would add additional cost to the movie, I was wondering if you considered including it in the logline.
Thanks for this post, dpg.
Good questions, almiiitey.
I slipped in “newly-minted” at the last second after I saw I could still come in under 30 words. Gatsby was a relatively newly-minted millionaire, of course, noveau riche, but the more important adjective to include was “self-made” in order to provide a contrast with the ‘old money’ Daisy had married into.
I never considered including Nick in the logline because he is a supporting character. His role in the plot is to facilitate the affair through his relationship to Daisy; otherwise he serves as a one man chorus, the narrator of the story.
Whether to include the time period was a tossup. It’s going to be obvious from page 1 of the script so it probably ought to be included. And, yes, it implies additional expenses for authentic sets and costumes, but on the other foot, it’s a legendary period with scandal, spectacle and glamor — the “sizzle” of the story, it seems to me, what explains why Hollywood cannot not resist making new versions of the story.
So, how about:
In the Roaring Twenties, a self-made millionaire uses his ill-gotten fortune to win back his long lost love who has married into ‘old money’ and respectability.
I think the revised logline can stand alone as a good pitch for the film even without the book behind it–well done.
I agree, Nick does not belong in the logline. A logline made up solely of the “rotten Eggs” in the story is the right choice but it bugs me that none of the characters in the logline have any character arc.
The time period is probably part of the sizzle that fueled both movies. I also wonder if it may be due to the fact that the central symbols–the green light, the city of Ashes and the Spectacle advertisement–are very visual and should translate well on the screen. I think you and I are in agreement on how successful that has been.
I’m going to post a logline version of Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil in Classics in a few days. Would welcome your comments.