Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Great Luhrmann

While I am not a big movie goer, I could not resist watching Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. The movie critics - especially the NY bunch- were a bit unkind to Luhrmann's latest movie accusing him of "(over)size, overstatement and noise" and of the film being "shallow but operatic".

Personally, I just could not have enough of it!

The cast was fantastic, not to mention the decore, the music and the truly interpreted dynamics of Fitzgerald's novel. But above all: the colours! The best of Bollywood meets the roaring 1920s. Quite frankly I would have loved it even more if it was even more grand, louder and theatrical.

In particular, the scene where Gatsby breaks the clock and then makes a clumsy attempt to fix it reminded me of an event from around 2007.

On the other end of the line was a polite voice of a young gentleman:
"Do you repair clocks? I have been asked by my boss to contact you. His clock needs some attention."

The clock arrived in the mail a few days later. It was a rather inexpensive plastic-cased alarm clock. Something you would find in Vinnies, on the bottom shelf, underneath the pile of "How to" books and prints of the Opera House.

I rang back the number and explained to the young man that the clock is simply not worth repairing.
I explained why, in detail. He listened to me patiently and said:
"I appreciate your assessment. Indeed the clock is not worth much, but it does have a huge sentimental value to my employer."
"It will take me 2 days to repair it, which translates to a $500 repair bill, with no guarantee on performance". I was trying very hard not to get the job.
"Please go ahead, and thank you in advance. Do your best, it will be appreciated".

I have to say that overly polite customers were hard to find back then as much as they are hard to find today. So I got into it. To its credit, after a complete re-build, the poor clock kept fairly decent time, and the alarm bell was spot on.

The check arrived in the mail, and the clock was returned the same way.

A few weeks later I got the last piece of correspondence which closed the case. This time, it came directly from the owner. "Thank you for repairing my clock. Yours, Baz Luhrmann".

Where the boy from a small rural town in New South Wales, raised by a farmer and petrol station owner father and dress shop owner mother got his vision, imagination and inspiration, will - at least for me - remain a mystery.

Of one, I am convinced: only great people with attention to the smallest detail can make the greatest movies.

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