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Baz Luhrmann’s directorial styles from the MOULIN ROUGE! to The Great Gatsby have not evolved. This is evident in Luhrmann’s style of narration, symbolism, use of music and colour as well as themes. For example, there is a definite parallel in narration between The Great Gatsby and the MOULIN ROUGE!.
The narratives allow for viewers to know the ending from the beginning in both films. Nick Carraway and Christian, the narrators, are introduced to the audience as burdened characters who carry heavy baggage from their pasts. Writing becomes a cathartic experience which enables both narrators to relive the story they are telling. When Christian first arrives in France he is portrayed as naive, enthusiastic and filled with the hope for adventure just like Nick when he first arrives in New York City. The parallel between Christian and Nick Carraway’s narrative styles show that Luhrmann’s directorial styles of have not evolved from THE MOULIN ROUGE! to The Great Gatsby.Secondly, Luhrmann’s use of symbolism in the MOULIN ROUGE!is echoed in The Great Gatsby. The inevitable fact of time passing is symbolised by the turning of blades. The MOULIN ROUGE! achieves this by using the blades of a windmill and The Great Gatsby uses the blades of fans.
Luhrmann uses the sounds of instruments in both films to foreshadow and heighten violence. The use of the violin during ‘El tango de Roxanne” foreshadows and heightens the acts of violence which take place in the Duke’s castle during his dinner with Satine. The trumpet player’s jarring sounds heighten the feelings of violence when Tom Buchanan slaps Myrtle across the face at the end of the apartment party scene. The symbolism of jewellery as a form of financial stability at the cost of artificial love is present in both films. This symbolism is brought about by the Duke gifting a diamond neckpiece to Satine and Tom gifting expensive pearls to Daisy. Luhrmann’s style of pathetic fallacy in the MOULIN ROUGE! is echoed in The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann uses thunderstorms and rain to convey Christian’s pain and sorrow and uses it to symbolise Gatsby’s futile dreams and darkness his mobster life elicits on him. The manner in which Luhrmann uses symbolism in both films substantiates that his directorial styles have not evolved.
Moreover, Luhrmann’s use of music and colour in the MOULIN ROUGE! is similar to the use of colour and music in The Great Gatsby. In both films he uses anachronistic music to to engage the audience with the characters, emotion and storyline. Luhrmann’s use of colour in both films holds similar symbolism. Red is used to symbolise sexuality, passion and violence. Luhrmann uses this colour for Myrtle’s clothes, apartment and Tom’s handkerchief in The Great Gatsby but also uses it in the chamber Satine is to seduce the Duke as well as Christian’s lighting as his inner turmoil builds up after the sexually driven “El Tango de Roxane” scene. The colour white is used to symbolise the innocent intentions of love in both films. Satine and Christian glow in hues of white light as they sing the Elephant Love Medley. Gatsby fills Nick’s home with dozens of white pastel orchids in preparation for his meeting with Daisy. The similarities in music and use of colour in both films suggest that Luhrmann’s directorial styles have not evolved.
Finally, Luhrmann use the theme of thwarted love against established order in both the MOULIN ROUGE! and The Great Gatsby. Gatsby and Christian are two men from low class upbringings who fall in love with materialistic ladies who are of different worlds. Christian’s love for Satine is threatened by the Duke’s power over the Moulin Rouge and both Satine and Christian’s lives. Gatsby’s hopeless love for Daisy is inhibited by Daisy’s marriage and previous feelings for Tom. The thwarted love Christian and Gatsby have for their ladies opposes the love financially established men have for their love interests. The use of Gatsby’s and Christian’s love against Tom and the Duke is evidence that Luhrmann’s directorial style has not evolved.
Therefore, when taking into account Nick and Christian’s styles of narration, the symbolismbehind turning blades, jewellery and jarring instruments, the use of anachronistic music and choice of colour as well as Christian and Gatsby’s doomed love against the Duke and Tom as directorial elements used in both films; it can be concluded that Luhrmann’s directorial style has not evolved.
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