The Wondrous Sets of The Great Gatsby
To many people’s bafflement Baz Lurhmann opted to shoot his new film, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, in his native Australia. Many people wondered how will Lurhmann achieve the look, fashion, splendour and style of west egg, in Sydney?
But Lurhmann’s vision was achieved and the film was all shot in Australia and whatever you say about the film, you cannot say it’s not a look of 1920s America, or that it looks in anyway boring. The film has garishly bright colours, decadent sets, vehicles and is a real American looking film.
Admittedly I went into the film without knowing it was filmed in Australia and I was so immersed in Lurhmann’s jazz age film that I wouldn’t have even thought for a millisecond it was filmed outside of New York. Though the film relies heavily on computer generated imagery, this made me think the film was mostly studio based and not actually on location settings.
According to production designer Catherine Martin, when searching for the exterior of Gatsby’s mansion they were looking for a gothic structure and trying to achieve a Disney castle type of style to heighten the fantasy of the story.
So when they found the setting for the film, St. Patrick’s a closed down seminary in Sydney they had to add fake ivy and computer generated turrets to make it look the part. Doesn’t it look fantastic?
The filmmakers made a mass of 42 sets for the house and garden and in them are some of the most lavish rooms and foliage you’ve ever seen.
Take the ballroom, the incredible columns, the grand sweeping staircase and flowing curtains. The truly glorious parquet flooring with the monogrammed Gatsby initials ‘JG’ at the centre make the ballroom.
The contrast of dark and light woods works perfectly and the designs and patterns are stylish, grandiose and so very regal, the perfect look for a Gatsby party. To have one in your own home would be a dream, you’d be having parties every night too!
Gatsby’s bedroom is a functional one but still it doesn’t lack in immodesty. The bed, the walls and the solid wood floor are quite plain though massive, I imagine because Gatsby doesn’t sleep much with his parties and his determination to win over Daisy keeps him up all night.
A gorgeous spiral staircase leading to wardrobes so high you would need a ladder to reach the top both bring the real decadence to this room.
The set for the Tom’s illicit party pad is the epitome of garish. Everywhere you look there is a gorgeous bright tone of red on the walls and furniture. This is all very telling of what happens in this household! It is of course where Tom carries out his affairs.
The size of the room is so much more confined and really expresses the intimacy and the forced close proximity that all the characters have when in there, before they’ve even had sex they are on top of each other!
All images copyright Warner Brothers.