The Spirit & The Letter

My latest blog post over at Fare Forward’s blog at Patheos, a meditation on what The Great Gatsby can teach us about interpreting Scripture.

As director of The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann made a controversial choice in choosing to depict the parties of the Roaring Twenties with music featuring today’s top artists and styles. In one sense, this made the movie a less “true” depiction of what life during the Jazz Age was life. The minor allusions to that era, the droning trumpets and hints of blues, are authentic twenties, but the rap styling and rapid beats would have been foreign to those alive during that era. Yet in another sense, Luhrmann’s decision better conveyed to our modern ears the sense of excitement and vibrance that roaring parties offered at the time.

Jazz sounds quaint and old-fashioned to us, but at the time, it was provocative and dramatic. Conservative commentators at the time anxiously questioned the value of jazz. If one is trying to convey a scintillating, rambunctious party to a modern audience, jazz music won’t do it. To communicate the heart of the jazz age to a modern ear requires, in a way, abandoning literal authenticity. This permits Baz Luhrmannt to actually convey a deeper truth – to pass along the spirit of things.

Read the rest at:

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