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Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

I am so fired up about the new movie based on the novel The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Baz Luhrmann.

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I have to confess, I'm not so convinced. The book is one of my favourites of all time. I first saw the trailer without sound and though, "Well, it's Baz Luhrman, it's going to look very theatrical." Seeing Gatsby and Daisy in bed was just cheap, imo, the story doesn't need sexing up. And the soundtrack to the trailer... not my sort of thing.

I will watch it, but I'm not massively enthused by the trailer.

I'm truly mixed.  The set/costume/visuals have me excited, but god help me if this has a modern synthpop soundtrack as per the trailer I may have to get the torches and pitchforks ready.  Seriously, it's set in a time with some of the coolest music in human history and they have to MTV it up? Heresy!

I guess now I'll find out if he was really a magician. :D

Similar criticisms could be leveled against Wolfgang Parker who updated classic Diesel Era music, such as Minnie the Moocher, yet he's considered one of the great Dieselpunk musicians.

An updated soundtrack is pretty much expected with Baz Luhrmann who has a reputation for reimagining stories and eras (Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge). Don't expect a lot of historical accuracy.

If it does or doesn't have an updated soundtrack, it won't bother me. Hell, if anything the mix of Diesel Era style and aesthetics with the modern that he brings could help draw in a new generation. Or should I say, Punk the story, as in Dieselpunk?

i'm biased towards the older version of the Great Gatsby, as it's a classic film, and also because my mother's brother had a walk-on part...

my advice regarding this new version is: wait until you can buy it on dvd, put the subtitles on, turn down the sound and colour on your tv, and play some appropriate music of the time... it looks good, and i like the typography, but the score can go fly one.

Larry, I'm perfectly happy (even ecstatic) if they have music ala Wolfgang Parker, but the stuff on the trailer sounds much more like soulless MTV synth-pop rather that anything I'd consider Dieselpunk, and that's what frightens me.  Hell, if they'd sought out contemporary DP or retro musicians like Mr. Parker or Diablo Swing Orchestra I'd think it was the best soundtrack in recent history. 

I agree, completely Cap'n that there is better music that would still be modern that Luhrmann could have used for the trailer. You mentioned Parker, he himself even commented on FB how he would have liked to have done the music.

That being said, I still don't have a problem in principle with an updated soundtrack.

Me neither, Larry, as long as it's a GOOD and FITTING one.  Using the 20th century Carmina Burana oveture for Excalibur soundtrack was equally anachronistic, but eternally awesome in a way that defined the movie and redefined the music in exciting ways.  Using a dull generic rock soundtrack for A Knight's Tale was a jarring juxtoposition that distracted and detracted from the story.  I only hope the rest of Gatsby's soundtrack has the soul lacking in the trailer tune.

I've followed Buhrmann's career beyond Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge. He's actually quite creative in his use of music and I'm actually a big fan of his work. I really expect that he'll use period appropriate music during scenes such as night clubs and then a modern soundtrack during other times.

One thing maybe we can do is somehow flood emails or letters to his studio, better to him if possible, expressing our concerns. Give real alternatives that he might use like contemporary Jazz and Blues that fits the theme, updated versions of those songs like Wolfgang Parker's work, and of course electro-swing music.

Using modern music is Baz's signature. I have no doubts he will.

Larry and I talked about this last night and on Friday you'll be able to listen to the newest episode of The Diesel Powered Podcast where we talk about it. Regarding the Modern music - That was one complaint I had about Red Tails. Gorgeous period movie with urban smooth jazz score. Wasn't thrilled. But Baz does this fusion really well, and really isnt that the whole concept behind Dieselpunk?

Idlewild (starring Andre 3000 and Big Boi) is a good example of how this can be done (even though overall, the movie isn't that good).

I say, relax and wait to pass judgement when the film comes out. I know I'll be in theaters opening night!

It's too late for that. The music has already been scored, recorded, and is being edited into the film as we speak. A brand new soundtrack would delay the release past the Christmas season and likely cost them millions. At this point we can only hope it has the soul of the Jazz Era in it's heart.

Larry said:

One thing maybe we can do is somehow flood emails or letters to his studio, better to him if possible, expressing our concerns. Give real alternatives that he might use like contemporary Jazz and Blues that fits the theme, updated versions of those songs like Wolfgang Parker's work, and of course electro-swing music.

But keep in mind Cowboy, that seldom is scoring done when an advance trailer is realeased. Often, studios will also use music from other films in the trailer - the score to Far and Away is a favorite. The trailer to James & The Giant Peach used the score from Nightmare Before Christmas.

No, it is far from too late, but it is far too early to get riled up.


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