Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Man Behind the Movies

Ok, so Baz Luhrmann is not a fresh creative face, he is pretty established on the scene by now, especially following The Great Gatsby last year. However, he is one of my favorite directors and I recently came across a New York Times article looking at his "creative chaos", and found it incredibly relevant to what we've been discussing in class. 

Just a little bit of background, Luhrmann was born in 1962 and grew up in a small town north of Sydney, Australia. He pumped gas at his father's gas station, exposing him to a collection of characters whom he would observe with curiosity; his parents also had him trained in "painting, horse riding, skiing, shooting" and more (Wallace). When he was 11, his mother left for Sydney. Luhrmann followed not long afterwards, but lived independently and pursued acting. He claims that during this time, and actually, ever since then, "he was looking to create what he felt he had lost: a tight knit family" (Wallace). 

After his acting years, he turned to writing and, ultimately, creating films, plays, even a popular spoken word single, "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)". Luhrmann has worked in many domains, and with a wide range of opportunities in front of him, he asks himself daily, "what is my best use?" In this Times interview, Luhrmann shares that he perceives a huge difference between what he wants to do and what he feels must be done. This made me wonder quite a bit about whether his main motivation is intrinsic or extrinsic. It is unclear about what Luhrmann meant by what must be done; it could be interpreted as what must be done to keep his career going, or what must be done to fulfill his own expectations for himself. Personally, I would identify Luhrmann most with Carl Roger's opinion on motivation and its connection to self-evaluation over the evaluation of others. This is shown in the fact that Luhrmann's films are often highly criticized, but he expects and almost welcomes it saying, "you're not going to be making something that will endure or have an imprint on culture if it isn't drawing violent juxtaposing critical responses" (Wallace). Hmm, after re-reading that, it seems like he believes that what he must do, is somehow imprint on culture. And it is his, what he considers addiction, to this goal that fuels and motivates him, which I would consider very intrinsic.

I think another big motivation for Luhrmann is a desire for adventure. He and his wife try to live their work, so frequently at the beginning of a project they will travel to the piece's historical base, or in some other way try to immerse themselves into the art. But adventure is an important aspect of his life in another way too, it seems to be a slate-clearer, or something to reset him between projects or particularly stressful points in his life. We see this currently, he is planning to break to Paris to work on a "palate cleanser" piece after Gatsby. But it was also exemplified by his journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, taken as a break from a project that was put on hold, and problems with him and his wife conceiving. It was on this trip in 2003 that he came up with the idea to do a Gatsby re-creation. That being noted, Luhrmann would not consider the adventure as necessarily the best time for creativity. 

Luhrmann comments on what he needs to feel creative, and that's routine. He keeps everything in the same place no matter where he is, and "believes that external order creates internal possibility" (Wallace). I think he really exemplifies the idea that creativity comes through the unconscious. Of course, routine isn't the same as being asleep, but I would think that it allows for a similar process, of rest or consciously forgetting about the 'problem' for a while. As Luhrmann said, "As I'm going through the routine, I don't have to think…The mind is unlocking something" and leaves more room for creativity (Wallace). The semi-zombie like state that we have while getting ready most days allows for the unconscious to bring creative solutions to our mind, or at least work on them without us realizing. This leads me to picture Baz Luhrmann having many moments of insight while brushing his teeth or putting on his tie - bam! Moulin Rouge! Tying his shoes - wack! Romeo + Juliet! However it happens, the results are some insanely creative pieces of art.  

1 comment:

  1. I've seen a few of Bahz Luhrmann's movies and I both love and strongly dislike what I've seen. Moulin Rouge was one of his great works and I loved the score, the writing, the acting. However, his interpretation of the Great Gatsby, aside from the score, was very hard to watch. It would be naive to not appreciate Luhrmann's ability to create, whether digitally or on a set, beautiful and sweeping settings. The cinematography of his movies are impressive and as you mentioned his work seems to be intrinsically motivated in an effort to make an, "imprint on culture." Luhrmann's work is very polarizing and most people seem to love his work or dislike it a lot and I appreciate the fact that he welcomes criticism because I think that is an interesting juxtaposition against his very intrinsic motivations.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.