Baz Luhrmann defends hip-hop Great Gatsby

2013-05-17 14:52
Jill Lawless
Cannes - Not everyone is a fan of the hip-hop flavoured soundtrack of The Great Gatsby, but director Baz Luhrmann says using modern music was essential to capturing the spirit of F Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel.

"We wanted the film to feel like how it would have felt to read the novel in 1925," the director told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival, where the movie provided opening-night screen fireworks and red carpet glamour.

"Fitzgerald put music front and centre in his novel. He took African-American street music called jazz and he put it right as a star in the book.

"People said, 'Why are you doing that? It's a fad, it'll be gone next week.' And he said, because I want this book to feel right here, right now."

Luckily for Luhrmann, Gatsby star Leonardo DiCaprio introduced him to Jay-Z, and the superstar agreed to help score the film.

Two of Jay-Z's own tracks — $100 Bill and the Grammy-winning jam No Church in the Wild — feature on the soundtrack, and he elicited contributions from the wife Beyonce, Emeli Sande and Lana Del Rey.

Luhrmann also used the soundtrack to counter criticism of the absence of African-American speaking characters in the movie — as in Fitzgerald's book.

"Jay said that music is a star in the film so I think there is a great African-American presence in this film and I am very, very grateful for it," he said.