‘Great Gatsby’ Trailer: Why Jay-Z, Kanye, Jack White Set The Tone
Baz Luhrmann’s musical choices for the period clip are surprising — but also spot-on.
By Brendan Dempsey
The new The new trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” hit the Web on Tuesday night. And while the first look has already generated plenty of excitement, there’s more than a bit of curiosity, too, since the clip opens to lavish 1920s New York scenes set to … Jay-Z?
As Jay and Kanye’s Watch the Throne track “No Church in the Wild” plays in the background, a Toby Maguire voiceover explains that “the restlessness approached … hysteria.”
Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Hov? OK, we’re in. In fact, this kind of thing is nothing new for Luhrmann, who’s penchant for setting period flicks to modern music has become one of his calling cards. In 1996’s “Romeo + Juliet,” Romeo (also DiCaprio) toted a pistol to the sound of Radiohead, while pop star Christina Aguilera provided some of the sounds for “Moulin Rouge,” which was set in the early 1900s. Luhrmann’s take on “Gatsby” will be true to the text but that doesn’t mean fans can’t expect real creativity as far as the soundtrack goes.
At first listen, the songs in the trailer appear to have been chosen because they both sound great and complement the tone. But on further examination, it seems safe to assume that Luhrmann chose each song methodically, each number there to serve a distinct purpose. Read on as we break down key tracks!
“No Church in the Wild,” Jay-Z and Kanye West:
Jay and Kanye touch on status symbols, criminality, partying, and money in the Frank Ocean-featuring track, all of which factor into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. The 21st century lyrics, about the declining American Dream, closely parallel the excesses of the Roaring ’20s.
“Rolling in the Rolls-Royce Corniche”: Gatsby’s yellow Rolls convertible is a key symbol in the story.
“Socrates asked,’ Whose bias do y’all seek?’ “: “The Great Gatsby” paints a picture of a man who did everything to gain respect and notice with the help of status symbols and wealth. Gatsby was constantly seeking approval — in all the wrong places.
“Let me buy you desire”: Gatsby, very literally, tried to purchase the desire of the upper class and his long lost love, to no avail.
“I’m hidin’ from police”: The film is set during the crime-filled Prohibition era and it’s inferred in the story that Gatsby amassed his fortune as a bootlegger.
“Love Is Blindness” (U2 Cover), Jack White:
Written by U2 for their 1991 album, Achtung Baby,the song got another life courtesy of White, who delivers it with his signature raw emotion.
“Love is blindness, I don’t want to see/ Won’t you wrap the night around me?/ Oh, my heart; love is blindness” : The one lesson that Gatsby never managed to learn in the Fitzgerald classic is that “love is blindness.”
But the trailer isn’t the only place where Luhrmann enlisted the help of contemporary stars like Jay and Kanye.
“On my first day, he had Jay-Z pumped up full and we did the entire scene with, you know, Jay-Z in our ear on full blast while acting and it was just so liberating,” “Gatsby” star Isla Fisher said in a recent interview. “[ Luhrmann] really understands actors and how self-conscious we feel at times, and how exposed we are and how we never know where anything lands. Just the complexity of being vulnerable every minute when you’re acting, and he just makes you feel so safe.”
If the first trailer is any indication, we are in for a treat when the soundtrack for Gatsby is released in December.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Great Gatsby.”
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