If you’ve been hiding under a lichen-covered rock this week, it behoves me to inform you that Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby trailer has been released, and it has caused quite the stir!
In typical Luhrmann fashion, the trailer erupts in phantasmagorical brilliance, a mad clash of 1920s fashion and prohibition-era licentiousness, remixed to an ultra-modern soundtrack featuring Jack White and Kanye West.
It is no secret that I’m excited about this film. In my eyes, Luhrmann has the magic touch, dipping his ideas in sparkling lacquer mixed with absinthe before sending them off to be embraced or bewailed by the press.
The extreme diversity of reaction to this first look within the media, however, was unprecedented.
From expressions of delight, to sheer disappointment and scathing condemnation, a mere two and a half minutes of footage has divided the media.
Pop culture kings Pedestrian.tv described the trailer as “visually sumptuous, anachronistic crack.”
“Depending on your feelings towards Luhrmann’s oeuvre then it should either make your day too or dash your hopes for a faithful retelling of Fitzgerald’s classic,” Pedestrian noted.
Vanity Fair described it as “a hyper-stylized, extended-music-video treatment of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic.”
The divergent response is evidence that those in the sacred realms of film critic are not cinema-slaying robots (a popular misconception) but actual people with varying viewpoints.
It is interesting to note this strongly varied international media response especially in contrast to the rather less negative feedback which came out of Australian industry magazines or websites this week. Australian newspapers including The Age and The Australian gave the most ambivalent forecasts, neither committing to the film, nor ruthlessly tearing it to pieces.
The fact that the film was shot in Sydney and directed by Australian-born Luhrmann may have something to do with this anomaly.
The Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) identifies “the advancement of Australian and international film culture” as one of the aims of members within the film critic community.
Although not all Australian film journalists are necessarily a member of this body, the opportunity which this film presents for Australian culture is a possible factor in this seeming hesitancy to disparage the film.
Of course, perhaps us Aussies are just a broadminded bunch, either way, as the Queensland Times noted: “The proof will be in the full, 3D, pudding.”