Fast cars, fast women, greed, and deception, Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby captures the vibrant energy and iconic imagery of the 1920s. Luhrmann conjured a very unique and colorful vision of the Jazz Age by referencing some of the most influential visual artists of the period. Each camera frame could stand alone as a work of art. He utilized fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene’s sense of perspective and dramatic composition for the film’s captivating cinematography. The Australian filmmaker also incorporated a few surrealist touches like the solarized photographic technique of Dadist Man Ray. In his signature style the uncompromising director selected contemporary music for the film’s soundtrack. Recording artists such as Will.I.Am and Fergie contributed high energy dance tracks to the film’s party scenes while ballads by Lana Del Rey and Florence + The Machine created more tender moments.
The exquisite costumes were a collaborative effort between fashion designer Miuccia Prada and costume designer Catherine Martin. The costumes of Daisy Buchanan played by Carey Mulligan ranged from dainty to chic, from a lilac lace day dress with cool grey tassels and matching bicorne hat to a sleek black and white floral print robe with Sonia Delaunay inspired head scarf. Other costume details consisted of jeweled appliqué, fur, feathers, and sequins. The men’s costumes were designed by Brooks Brothers and were elegantly styled in the likeness of a J.C. Leyendecker painting, the sought after artist from the Golden Age of American Illustration.
The meticulously choreographed party scenes were reminiscent of the work of Busby Berkeley the celebrated movie director best known for his elaborate musical productions involving complex geometric patterns. Angelic show girls poured bubbling champagne from giant bottles as festive flappers glided about flawlessly in their short bobs and ornate head pieces. The Great Gatsby is visually arresting and will introduce younger audiences to the bustling beauty of the 1920s.
Reviewer: Jesse Negrete, Reference & Student Services Specialist FIDM San Diego Campus