Is Baz Lurman's The Great Gatsby film a relevant story to tell today?

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Answered by: April, An Expert in the Movies and TV Category
Baz Luhrmann, the filmmaker who tackles the classic story of boy chases girl, loses girl to another and tries to win her back by having more to offer her then her current love — The Great Gatsby — got inspiration to tell this F. Scott Fitzgerald novel on celluloid by listening to the audio book on the train through Siberia. He saw in his mind's eye how the story could be told in relevance to today's modern world.

Contrary to the blank canvas of Siberia's outlying landscape, Luhrmann envisioned gold, diamonds, champagne, lush gardens, decadent parties, and the opportunity to find love. There is no doubt that his film embodies the opulent spirit of The Jazz Age in New York, but it also has that sense of jadedness that author F. Scott Fitzgerald speaks of almost as a symptom of the apathy of the era. This same jadedness is massive in today's youth culture, especially in America. The "gangsta" lifestyle that is admired and emulated in today's youth is comparative to Gatsby's lifestyle. Nick represents the white, suburban youth that spends their parents money on a new rap album dreaming of life as an urban soldier in a rags-to-riches story. Some would argue that the film's story is centered on definite class separation and that struggle is apparent between the relationship of both Gatsby as he creates himself as a phoenix who rises from the obscurity of the lower class to the glittering world of the upper crust, and the class theme is also constant in the friendship of Nick and Gatsby. But, contrary to what some would say, the film is more about the labels we human beings use with each other. Money comes and goes but can you make a "common" person "blue blooded" or are they just born that way?

Luhrmann can be counted on to layer his films or to use a term of his own creation, Luhrmann spackles many visual and auditory elements together with something he calls “poetic glue.” Using the modern sounds of Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kanye West, and many more, Luhrmann interweaves the feeling of relevance throughout the film. Luhrmann is well-known for utilizing modern music in his era films, for example almost the entire soundtrack from “Moulin Rouge” is tacked together from pop songs of the last 30 years.

But, in “The Great Gatsby” he also uses another avenue to move the narrative of the film: actual text on the screen. There is the little known fact that Fitzgerald wrote his novels long-hand before typing a manuscript. Lurman uses this prop to illustrate the different mental stages of our narrator in the film, Nick. So you could say as Nick does that this piece of art “exists within and with out.” This is crucial to today's audiences’ film experience. Finding a path of least resistance is easy in viewing, but this obvious simplicity is far from unintentional. This film is a visual treat with a classic story that has pop culture appeal and can enjoy multiple viewings seeing something new each time.

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