Jay-Z attends “The Great Gatsby” world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall on May 1, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
by AJ Williams
The roaring 20’s a time when alcohol and gambling was illegal, morality low and segregation high. Yet, in Baz Luhrmann’s film adaption of the Great Gatsby, love and recapturing the past is a focal point.
From a cinematic perspective, if you are a fan of Luhrmann’s other films, Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet—in which Leonard DiCaprio also starred—then this film will not disappoint. The lush, color-rich sets and off-beat, in your face transitions, pull you right into J. Gatsby’s world.
Known for mashing up period films and 21st century undertones, Luhrmann creates interesting rides of conflicting time references in his movies. In this film, he partners with artists Jay-Z and Kanye West to include tracks like ‘No Church in the Wild’ and ‘100$ Bill’, a remake of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ by Emeli Sande.
However, as I bobbed my head along with the soon-to-be hit soundtrack and took in the visual splendor of the movie, the grandness of the parties of the 1920’s, the random love affairs, and even the innocence of the love story of a man trying to recapture the past, I was left to deal with my feelings of lovely Black women being objectified and the sobering realization that despite the wonder of the movie, segregation was a real factor in the 1920’s.
And even though Jay-Z could have performed at these parties, unlike today’s time, he would have had to exit not stage left, but stage through the kitchen and out the back door.
It left me to wonder, if mixing in the sounds of African American artists was a true play of artistry on the part of Luhrmann’s or was it just a ploy to draw in an African American audience to celebrate a time when we were still fighting for civil rights and freedoms but drink the Kool-aid and look the other way because Jay-Z, Kanye, and Beyonce are on thetrack.
But hey, it’s just my perspective; I would love to hear yours.
Follow AJ Williams @IamAJWilliams