Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Music, Old Sport

We watched Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby last night. There was a lot of comment when it came out about the mix of modern and period styles of music, but I thought that the soundtrack blended nicely and captured the feeling of the time better than period music alone could. Roaring Twenties jazz isn't going to sound as racy to our ears as it did to contemporaries (though Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox is doing a good job of capturing the excitement of ragtime). If you've heard any of the sentimental popular songs from the period, you can imagine how the syncopated rhythms of ragtime, jazz, and the influence of black spirituals were a jolt of toe-tapping, pulse-pushing adrenaline.

Overall, I liked the movie, though the pacing of the first half was rushed almost to the point of caricature. (It didn't induce headaches like Moulin Rouge, though, for which I was grateful.) Also, Darwin said that it's a pet peeve of his when movies based on novels use the conceit of making the writing of the novel part of the movie. If you're writing as therapy in a sanitarium, you're not going to be turning out polished novel-quality prose fresh off the typewriter. If a screenwriter wants to use the author's words as narration, why not just include them as narration?

This was my favorite musical moment, though this particular version isn't available on any of the four or five Gatsby soundtracks.

ADDENDUM: Well. Scott Bradlee and Co. have done a cover of this song. I don't like it quite as well as the movie version above, but it has a charm.

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