The Get Down is a feast for the eyes and ears as Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Aldy Guirgis have created a beautiful TV series that follows Baz’s work such as Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rogue!.
New York in the 1970’s faced a lot of problems as did a lot of major cities at that time. New York’s music scene during that time and even now, is a significant influence on music. From the blues to disco, the emergence of Hip-Hop and popular music of its time, such as Donna Summer, this time saw sounds come from the streets and influence another generation. Historically that has been the pattern and rhythm of music, Jazz and Blues became the forerunners of pop music and Elvis Presley which broke society away from classical. Contemporary music was birthed from this timeline and New York was the door to the world.
Stepping back a bit, the film Fame (1980) also shows an era been birthed out of chaos. Musicians and writers were bohemians and people did indeed bleed for their art. The film Fame is based upon the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
People paid their dues in this business, especially if they wanted to get into the music scene and get out the Bronx. Madonna didn’t come out of nowhere and either has Baz Lurhmann. He has grown up immersed in this culture and understanding the importance of presenting a beautiful performance with something that has cultural importance also.
Markers of the ’70s are big hair, big fashion and big attitudes. The effects of World War 2 were still rippling around the world as people looked for an identity away from the 1950’s housewife and the rights revolution of the ’60s. The Get Down delivers this as music was important to this generation, as they questioned their place in the world and wished to leave their mark.
This work has been well researched and documented as it was a struggle. New York was not alone in these struggles as London and Sydney were breaking out of old molds and looking forward to a new life. The Arts is always a challenge, it shapes and demands as it is created, The Get Down showcases this in a beautiful musical.
The music and energy carry the series, some of the scenes are breathtaking, they are as much the narrative as the struggles faced by the teenagers. That is the tension of the story presenting a different era, capturing beautiful scenes with breathtaking film quality lighting and songs that carry the body language and times, the costumes are superb.
Having lived through this time when I had arguments with my parents over trying to get into a musical high school and my father had strong religious beliefs, I know the challenge of facing those prejudices. At times I could see my own life in those conversations, arguments and music that it draws me into a time of my life that was a struggle. And yes I got into the musical high school but trust me life does not stop there.
I think this is the point of The Get Down it chronicles the lives of these teenagers, their struggles and dreams.