Monday, 1 October 2012

The Great Gatsby: Trailer Analysis

This an analysis of  Baz Luhrman's movie trailer for his on screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby'. It was completed by Newbridge College sixth year pupil Akvile Kovanate. The movie was due for release at Christmas of this year but has now been put back to early 2013.

Research the names of the two songs Luhrman uses in the trailer. Discuss why you think he used these songs and how accurate is the trailer?

The trailer begins with the song “No Church in the Wild” by Kanye West & Jay-Z. From the first notes we hear, the reasons for Luhrman’s choice of soundtrack becomes apparent. The first beats of the song instill a sense of anticipation, with its blend of dark undertones creating a sense of building tension and ‘the restlessness” that “approached hysteria” as pointed out by the voice of Nick Carraway.  The song’s agitated rhythm compliments the extraneous party taking place, and the lyrics are an accurate reflection of the main concepts of the novel. The song portrays the lack of depth within the Roaring Twenties, questioning the significance of the superficial wealth for those “Who don't believe in anything?” The song’s references to the church and its religious connotations consolidate with the novel’s portrayal of the reverence that wealth held in that time, and the veneration that it seemed to procure. Luhrman’s ingenious choice of a contemporary song relates these concepts to a modern audience and applies the criticisms by F Scott Fitzgerald of the society that he lived in, to the world we live in today.

Subsequent to a few well timed moments of anticipatory silence, the trailer launches into the song "Love Is Blindness”, the u2 cover by Jack White. Its gradual start is a perfect introduction to another aspect of the novel – the tragic love story between Daisy and Gatsby. The opening chords of the song are sudden and uncertain, much like the meeting between Daisy and Gatsby that it illustrates – the awkward reunion of two lovers that have nothing and yet five years of unexpressed words to say to each other. The song is permeated with emotion that heightens along with the events in the trailer, augmenting the impact the sequence of scenes has on the audience. Luhrman’s choice of this song serves to not only amplify the atmosphere throughout the trailer, but like the preceding “No Church in the Wild”, hints at the themes of the novel within its lyrics. The lyrics “Love is blindness, I don’t want to see” are a synopsis of Gatsby’s and Daisy’s relationship towards each other. Both are transfixed by the supercilious façade of glamorous luxury of each other, and are blind, or unable to see the true person beneath the appearance. Gatsby fails to see Daisy as a person beneath the unattainable but so desirable aura of prestige that she projects, and Daisy falls in love with the idea Gatsby being a man that she could truly love, someone unaffected by the lavish extravagance around him, but still part of it. To both of them, unable to see the respective truths, as in the lyrics of the song “love is drowning”

Films are more often, more than inaccurate representations of the novel they are trying to depict. Luhrman’s attempts to portray the atmosphere of “The Great Gatsby” are particularly valid in the scene where Gatsby is throwing his collection of shirts towards Daisy. Not only is this a precise representation of the same scene in the book, it is a scene that summarizes the idea behind the novel – the overwhelming emphasis on extravagance with no regards for consequences or repercussions. The scene in the novel represents everything that was wrong with the American Dream, the idolization of wealth in the “shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high”. It portrays the decaying void that is thinly veiled by the supercilious attempts to counterfeit class – the complete belittlement, yet glorification of aristocracy. Daisy’s reaction to this overt show of wealth is an insight into her true character, her extreme materialism. Her tears show her attitude towards love, or perhaps her inability to love - because Gatsby can now afford an assortment of lavish shirts, he is more worthy to be loved than what he was five years ago, a man with nothing.