Luhrmann Gets ‘The Get Down’

the-get-down-netflix-rampage-against-everyoneIf you want an authentic look at the birth of hip-hop in the Boogie Down Bronx your first choice would probably not be Baz Luhrmann, the fair haired Australian director of flamboyant musicals from “Moulin Rouge” to “The Great Gatsby.”

But he rounded up some historical figures for authenticity, such as Grandmaster Flash, and expresses a love for an era when the emerging rap scene was accompanied by two equally fresh art forms — graffiti and break dancing. He’s peopled his new series “The Get Down” (Netflix, streaming) with some appealing young people including Justice Smith, Shameik Moore and Yahya Abdul Mateen II, and consulted with hip hop figures from Grandmaster Flash to Nas.

His inspiration was a picture he saw a decade ago in Paris of all places.

“I remember thinking in that moment, “Gee, how did so much creativity come from New York in that moment at that time? How did something so completely new, so totally unexpected, and so creative come about?,” Luhrmann told writers at the TV Critics Association summer press tour.

“It was just a question really. It just stuck in my mind. And from that point on, I started trying to answer the question. I didn’t even think I’d make a show about it or and I just got more and more down that road.”

He found that in 1977, the world was otherwise enamored by disco. “But in this borough, where there was so little and the world had forgotten, and apparently the city had forgotten, these young people who were inventing with whatever they had,” Luhrmann says. ‘I just started getting completely absorbed with this story.”

He started to meet with people like the innovative DJ Grandmaster Flash.

“I looked him in his eye, and I says, “Baz, why?’” Flash says. “I wanted to see the sincerity in his eyes, and I did see that. And I seen the passion in his eyes. And then we took this 17 month journey.”

Because little of hip hop’s development was filmed, it was important to get it all down, Flash says. “That Baz wanted to do this, this was a blessing. It was just really, really important that he did this, that he was even interested, because nobody wanted to tell the story.”

 

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