The Great Gatsby movie may not have received universal praise and critical acclaim since its silver screen release but that doesn't mean you should write off or disregard its soundtrack. What do critics know anyway? There seems to have been far too much analysis of the film's sub-text and possible parallels with the global economy rather than old fashioned cinematic enjoyment. Is the world more greedy now, more star struck, more in need of fame and fortune? Have we all become more self-absorbed, self-obsessed, materialistic and vacuous or is it just that, nowadays, it's more in plain sight, easier to identify and more readily hyped and publicised. (The film adaptation is, after all, taken from the F. Scott Fitzgerald book published nearly ninety years ago.)
Setting aside any need to put the film on the psychiatrist's chair (to see whether Fitzgerald's cautionary tale of excess rings true) and taking the film and its soundtrack merely on musical merit alone, I think it safe to say that without doubt it is a triumph. Any suggestion that it is 'style over substance' is missing the whole point. The Jazz Age was all about style, all about how opulent and how lavish you could possibly be. Yes, it may have been a little vulgar but it was all about extravagance and living the dream, even if the dream was ultimately a lie.
The soundtrack of The Great Gatsby captures the very essence of the post war age, an age of optimism and high spirits where the grim realities of the not too distant past could be suspended. You can lose yourself in the cocktails, flapper dresses, pearls and spats, cigarette holders and dinner jackets quite easily. The allure of the decadent lifestyle being flaunted by the charming and charismatic Jay Gatsby has an intoxicating appeal that is difficult to resist. Both Baz Luhrmann, the film's director, and executive music producer Jay Z have done a meticulous job in making that come to life, brilliantly mixing a twenties thread through a contemporary score.
Continue reading: Various Artists - The Great Gatsby OST Album Review