If you haven't read the book or seen any previous adaptations I will not spoil it for you except that it's a, boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy finds girl again and then...
For this movie, for me anyway, the story is secondary. The imagery is the star. Every single frame seems to be filled with eye candy. The decor, the props, the clothes, hair and the makeup.
The Great Gatsby is set in Long Island in 1922, it's the Roaring Twenties. Think about Jazz music, flapper culture, bootlegging, excesses and Art Deco! Just out of WWI, for the very rich it would seem everything was permitted. It's what the French called, les années folles, the crazy years. Modernity was breaking with tradition. New technologies like radio, moving pictures, automobiles made it appear that anything was possible. Out with the old heavy ornate style and in with the new, lighter industrial style.
No it's not a young bird trying to take it's first flight nor is it a young girl with it's pony tail flapping when she walks although the term may have originated from either as well as other descriptions. They where women who embodied a carefree way of life. Inspired in part by women like Coco Chanel, Clara Bow and Louise Brooks. Their dresses where shorter with waistlines dropped at the hips with elements borrowed from men's fashion. Their stocking, held by garter belts which could often be seen when they danced to the wild rhythm of jazz music during parties they loved to go to. They drank alcohol. They where more promiscuous and many inhibitions if not all, had gone out the window along with the long hair and corsets. For the rich it was a wild time and ordinary women started to worked to pay their own way. Many started to enjoy sports like men and like them, started to have a tan which hinted at a life of leisure. This had also been made popular by Chanel.
As dresses and hair got shorter, makeup got heavier. What would have been unacceptable outside of theatres a few years before was now fashionable. The newly invented metal lipstick case and the compact enabled reapplication. Kohl rimmed eyes was also quite popular and women started to "redesign" their eyebrows.
At the centre of F. Scott Fitzgerald's story, Daisy Buchanan. Attractive and self absorbed, she is identified by the author as a flapper. Three other versions of The Great Gatsby where brought to the big screen before Luhrmann's. I thought it would be fun to show you who played the part of Daisy.
The many faces of Daisy...
Lois Wilson stared as Daisy in the 1926 version, a silent film now considered lost.
Betty Field as Daisy in the 1949 version.
Mia Farrow as Daisy in the stunning 1974 version.
Carey Mulligan, the latest incarnation of Daisy
If you like the movie I can only encourage you to read more on the subject. The 20s is such an interesting and fascinating period. It started with a bang and ended in despair with the 1929 Wall Street Crash.
1925, first edition of The Great Gatsby
As mentioned, no more natural looks, heavy makeup was in. Lipstick application was revolutionised with the invention of the retractable tube in 1915. Women used metal lip tracers to ensure perfect application which was done often and red was the color of choice. Eyebrows where plucked to form a thin line, in some cases they where removed entirely to make the line easier to draw. Maybelline marketed a popular cake mascara and William Beldue invented a lash curler in 1923 called the Kurlash. Michelle Ménard, a French makeup artist, partnered with Charles Revson to develop an nail lacquer (women would paint only the middle part of the nail) inspired by the paints used on cars. This was the first Revlon product.
Clara Bow, the original It girl.
From 1929, it would appear that Guerlain wasn't the first after all to create a fake tan powder.
Here we can see a liquid and a powder. I wonder what it looked like on skin.
Back to the movie The Great Gatsby, if you plan on going, I hope you enjoy it and if ever it's not living up to your expectations with the story, keep your eyes open. Enjoy the imagery and all the references. I know I will when it comes out in DVD. Unfortunately it's not a movie I can take my daughter to so I will have to wait.
The Great Gatsby is now in theatres and will be the opening film of the 66th annual Canne Film Festival on May 15th.