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THE GREAT GATSBY

Making It Pop
While Luhrmann wanted his big screen version of The Great Gatsby to be faithful to Fitzgerald's vision and the era, he made the unexpected decision to direct the feature in 3D, in order to bring Gatsby's world to life in a way that has never been done before.

"Baz mentioned to me that he didn't want this film to look like a period film -- what we think the '20s looked like," recalls cinematographer Simon Duggan. "He wanted it to feel like we were right there and then, in a sophisticated world where almost everything is brand new. As such, we were absolutely trying not to create any sort of period feel."

To that end, Luhrmann used 3D technology to enhance both the performance and the presence of his actors. "I had a moment of epiphany one day when I saw a version of Hitchcock's 'Dial M for Murder' in 3D. It wasn't things coming at me that was interesting to me -- what was interesting was to see Grace Kelly just moving around in a room in 3D. I mean, I just wanted to reach out and touch her. And the camera's not moving, she's just moving and acting. So, it struck me how much 3D is like the theatre, how powerful it is in 3D when an actor moves towards the camera as opposed to moving the camera towards an actor."

"We're probably one of the first to do a drama in 3D," says Knapman. "Of course, you would normally associate 3D with special-effects movies and movies that are set in a fantasy world. Ours is a real world and I think that's quite unusual. I think the way 3D is used in the movie is very successful."

"I think it is a fantastic medium for Baz's style of filmmaking, this film in particular," agrees Duggan. "It really heightens the dramatic and visual sense of what we were trying to achieve. We were going for a very real look -- 3D helps simulate this -- so we tended to use quite wide-angle lenses, which are similar to a human's field of view."

"The fact that Baz wanted to use 3D in a dramatic context is very interesting to me," comments DiCaprio. "You actually feel the intensity the characters have with one another."

"I think 3D is a very natural progression for Baz," says Martin. "He's always trying to break down the barrier between the story and the audience. And this is just another way of allowing the audience into the world, of taking down that wall and getting them to feel as if they're actually in the room with the characters."

"Baz is really armed and dangerous in 3D," says Wick. "From early shots we saw his understanding of, just in dramatic terms, the relationship between actors, but then, in terms of energy and emotion, the creation of a dynamic and an exciting world. I think it's a great tool, and I think this will inspire a lot of other people to use it in new ways."

Luhrmann has reason to believe the author would have embraced his approach. "One of the things I think about Fitzgerald is that in all of his work he was really interested in modern technique. He was interested in cinema, in writing screenplays, in new music, in popular culture -- he really gave things a go. He went about making novels in a very different way."

Luhrmann, as he did with "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!," has once again taken a classic story and incorporated popular contemporary music with period score, making the audience's experience of the film as rich and full, and as timeless, as possible.

"Fitzgerald forged new ground, gaining both fame and notoriety for referencing this new and explosive sound called jazz in his work, actively telling story via the immediacy of pop culture," Luhrmann relates. "As I've done in the past, I wanted to bring this tale into the present day, while respecting the time in which it takes place, because no matter how hard one tries we'll never quite understand what it felt like -- what jazz was in 1925."

Fitzgerald coined the term "the Jazz Age," and the phrase encapsulated so much more than just the music of the era -- it was about being modern, it was about youth culture, and it represented the energy of the time: the Roaring Twenties. As such, Luhrmann wanted the music to be a reflection of our time, while still helping to tell this classic story.

Anton Monsted, executive music supervisor and co-producer on the film, says, "The soundtrack to 'The Great Gatsby' had to meet everybody's expectations, because on the one hand it's a heartrending love story about a broken dream, but it's also a story known so much for its parties and its excessive, decadent world. We knew it needed to include bombastic, loud, exciting party music -- hip-hop, music of the streets -- as well as music that expresses the tragic romance and a love that can never be fully realized.

"I think Baz certainly identified very early on that to listen to jazz music and to enjoy jazz music in the early 1920s was somewhat to flirt with danger," Monsted continues. "So, finding a translation to the times that we're living in and to the times that our audience is living in...that was probably our big musical discussion and our big music challenge."

Their discussions turned to hip-hop, which has its roots in jazz. "You know, jazz is African-American music, and it's storytelling music," says Luhrmann. "Both of those musical forms were about pure, absolute self-expression."

There could be no one better to collaborate with Luhrmann on his concept of the music than rapper and producer extraordinaire Shawn "JAY Z" Carter, who ultimately served as executive producer on "The Great Gatsby" as well as a contributor to the soundtrack.

"He was recording 'No Church in the Wild' in the Mercer Hotel," says Luhrmann, recalling how they came to work together. "Leonardo said to me, 'Hey, Jay's up here, would you like to meet him?' So, I came up and there's Jay doing his thing and I'm sitting there watching, thinking, 'This is fun!' And then we talked and I showed my little reel about 'Gatsby,' and Jay said, 'What are we talking about? Of course we've gotta do this together!'"

"He's a performer on several tracks, but also helped to define and guide the musical arc of the film so that there's a consistency of expression and point of view," states Monsted. "No Church in the Wild" is included on the film's soundtrack, along with JAY Z's original track "100$ Bill."

In addition to featuring his own music, and referencing jazz and hip hop, JAY Z embraced Luhrmann's desire to include a mash-up of musical genres. "We seamlessly shifted different eras of music together," JAY Z explains, "and that was the real challenge."

This meant recruiting a variety of influential artists, including Bryan Ferry; Florence + The Machine; Lana Del Rey; London band The xx; Fergie with Q Tip and GoonRock; Coco O. of Quadron; Gotye; Nero; Sia and Beyonce and Andre 3000.

Artists such as The xx and Florence Welch even came to the scoring sessions in London and recorded while watching the "Gatsby" footage, "to help tailor the song to the emotion of the scene," as Monsted explains. "I think when people see that in the film they're going to be surprised that it's not just Florence singing a pre-recorded song; it's very much Florence playing to picture and playing to the emotion of the images."

In addition to original tracks, moviegoers will also recognize covers of major chart hits, such as Jack White's cover of U2's "Love Is Blindness," and Beyonce and Andre 3000 collaborating on Amy Winehouse's heartbreaking ballad "Back To Black."

"Andre 3000 and Beyonce do a song together; it's insane," explains JAY Z. "This album is amazing. It's not going to be for the club, you know? It's for driving with the windows down. I suggest you buy a car for the soundtrack, or a bike -- something that moves."

For the orchestral score for the film, Craig Armstrong adapted the melodies from some of the main songs and wove them back into the narrative soundtrack, guiding the audience's emotional response.

"A good example is Lana Del Rey's song 'Young and Beautiful,' which represents Gatsby and Daisy's more naïve, younger love -- the love that they had five years before the story is set, when things were less complicated for them," relays Monsted. "It's really an expression of the place that Gatsby is trying to get back to with her. Craig has taken the tune and woven it throughout the score, so even though we may not hear Lana singing the song, we're reminded of what it means."

Another important collaborator on the soundtrack was Bryan Ferry, who re-recorded some of the more traditional jazz tracks with his Bryan Ferry Orchestra. "I wanted the soundtrack to also be a blend of jazz -- traditional jazz," says Luhrmann. "Bryan Ferry, whose obsession is traditional jazz, has actually created some tracks of well-known pieces."

Ferry took on a couple of the classics: his own "Love Is The Drug," and, with Emeli Sande, Beyonce's "Crazy in Love"; and even more traditional jazz tunes have been spiced up a little. "Within the scene you might have a piece of very traditional jazz performed by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, but then it will seamlessly become a performance track by JAY Z," says Monsted.

Says Luhrmann, "We did that to help the audience get that same feeling as when the reader read the book in 1925, what it meant that there was jazz in the story. It was dangerous and intoxicating and thrilling and sexy, and it was jazz!

"'The Great Gatsby' is such an entertaining, modern story," Luhrmann concludes. "It has this fantastic romance, the world of the bootlegger, it has flash, it has cash, but it also has violence and death and tragedy. Most importantly, underneath all of this it has complex, rich characters and deep emotion, passion and love."

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