Director Baz Luhrmann takes us behind his stylish adaptation of the classic American novel.
By Fan Zhong
When F. Scott Fitzgerald published his novel of the Jazz Age in 1925, the contraband champagne, European fashions, and fizzy pop songs fueling the mythic rise and fall of Jay Gatsby were dismissed by the crusty old guard as the youthful sins of the demimonde. “Fitzgerald was a modernist,” says Baz Luhrmann, who sought to bring a similarly contemporary spirit to his adaptation. “I wanted to make a movie that expresses not what the ’20s were but how they felt.” The Australian director’s stylish reimagining features an exuberant Jay-Z-produced soundtrack, with songs by stars like Lana Del Rey, and summery suits and shimmery flapper dresses created by Catherine Martin (Luhrmann’s wife and longtime collaborator) and Miuccia Prada. While the era’s devil-may-care decadence would seem the stuff of great cinema, Fitzgerald’s story has remained elusive. Luhrmann’s version of the tale of the enigmatic Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), the frivolous debutante Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), and the narrator Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) comes in sumptuous 3-D, heightening the tragic unsustainable fashion in which its characters lived. “Fitzgerald could see that it would all fall down,” Luhrmann says, referring to the Gold Coast bubble that popped with the stock market crash of 1929. “For me, it’s an intense reflection of what just happened to us.”