By Laura Himmelmann
The Great Gatsby is a novel and movie adaption most of us are familiar with, hopefully. The majority of people are unaware that on paper, it could count as an Australian movie rather than American.
Looking at the cast, we are confronted with Leonardo Di Caprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan. All American actors that are well known for their movies. However, if we look further, we are met with a whole list of people that have Australian origin. It is a presence that is palpable.
Baz Luhrmann, the director of the movie, is Australian and he brought in his team which consisted of fellow Australians: so does the movie count as an Australian one?
What makes a movie Australian?
The plot of The Great Gatsby follows Jay Gatsby, a millionaire who carries a mysterious aura wherever he steps foot in. His long-lasting crush Daisy, someone he knows, is out of reach. We view the story from Nick Carraway’s POV, years after everything we are about to witness, happened. The message of the movie is to warn of the dangers of the American dream and the death grip materialism has on people. It also depicts the irresponsible lifestyle of the rich, especially with the focus on parties and alcohol.
While it takes place in the fictional town West Egg, imitating New York City, the director moved the filming process to Sydney. In other words, the movie was filmed in Australia but depicts the America of the 1920’s. Throughout the years there have been various novel and movie adaptions that are associated with different countries. Such as The Piano, set in New Zealand, written, and directed by a New Zealand team but produced by an Australian (DailyTelegraph). Therefore, it is accepted as an Australian movie by award associations. For The Great Gatsby, we have a hugely known American novella as source material, but an Australian team in the background. So, we must consider it as a possibility of representation.
What is meant with that?
The source material should not limit the creative adaption but rather encourage various people to take over and add their nuances. The Great Gatsby is a prime example of Australian influence and the success it may carry. It creates differences to the original, those that may change the setting, acting and developing of a plot, but it does not need to be connected to negativity. Furthermore, it opens the door for representation in Hollywood, for recognition and acceptance apart from the usual norm.
So, yes, The Great Gatsby needs to be seen as an Australian movie, for that it not only consists of mostly Australian cast and crew but it also offers a difference to usual Hollywood blockbusters. It opened the doors of possibilities and the space to think about productions that not only consist of Americans when telling a story even one set in America. This is thanks to people like Baz Luhrmann who pour their individuality and ideas in big projects, turning them into something different, something new.