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Interview: Great Gatsby costume designer


It was one of last summer's most anticipated films but pulling off Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby was no mean feat. Not only was it a huge project logistically, it was also ambitious in its aim to bring a fresh, kaleidoscopic slant to F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic text.

We take a look at some of the Gatsby sketches made by Oscar-winning designer Catherine Martin - who has just won an Oscar nomination for her work - as she explains how she went about fulfilling her creative vision for the costumes and sets, along with her husband and the film's director, Luhrmann:

Hollywood power couple Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann

"We began work on The Great Gatsby around four years ago. Baz (Luhrmann) read the book out loud, paragraph by paragraph, to a small group of us. That's the way we always approach an adapted work; it's all about analysing the text.

F. Scott Fitzgerald creates a lot of vivid descriptions in the book and we worked for a long time to get a collective vision among the crew and cast as to how we would translate that. We started a social investigation of how people lived in the 20s - what they wore and the parties they went to.

Of course, I felt under pressure to do justice to the book. But I also wanted to do justice to the film and the director's vision. And that's part of design; creating a process of cohesive story telling that speaks to modern audiences.

Baz had no overt desire to modernise The Great Gatsby. Rather, he wanted modern audiences to understand how modern the Gatsby world felt to its protagonists at the time. He didn't want it to be seen through a nostalgic lens. Instead we tried to capture that frenzy of movement and drive to the future.

Whenever you're interpreting an original text, it's really important to remember you're dealing with a perspective. It's your take on that work and if you try to please everyone, you end up with a Blancmange. The only way to do it is to have a united and solid vision that you stick to throughout."

The Great Gatsby is available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download now

Photos: Rex Features



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