Why Baz Luhrmann’s 1970s New York show for Netflix could make perfect sense
the get down

The first extremely short but tantalising trailer has arrived for The Get Down, Baz Luhrmann’s original drama for Netflix.

In another example of the streaming giant flexing its industry muscles, they’ve recruited the director of Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby for a 13-part musical drama based on the origins of hip hop in New York in the 1970s.

We won’t be able to watch The Get Down until 2016, but expect to read a whole lot more about the show’s development over the next 12 months, if the hype surrounding the soon-to-stream Better Call Saul is anything to go by.

All we know so far is that the series will follow a group of South Bronx teenagers for whom friendship and music is a means of escaping the harsh reality of their lives.

Staying true to the music of the time, the teaser is scored by the endlessly sampled ‘Apache’ instrumental and simply features archive footage of rumbling subway trains, half-demolished buildings, graffiti, police clashing with youths, and, of course, break-dancing.

The sordid, crime-ridden New York of the 1970s has provided the backdrop to countless gritty screen classics, from Taxi Driver and Serpico to The French Connection and Saturday Night Fever.

On first sight, the downtrodden setting of The Get Down may look like a complete U-turn for Luhrmann, fresh from the ridiculously opulent excess of the Roaring Twenties in Gatsby.

But, as the trailer implies as it bursts from urban decay to the explosive energy of street culture, The Get Down looks set to celebrate the triumph-against-all-odds musical explosion of those kinetic few years – the fact that often the most vibrant, colourful and influential art comes from the darkest of sources.

Luhrmann has apparently been developing The Get Down for more than a decade along with The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, and the show’s visual style will be the responsibility of his wife Catherine Martin, who also created the look of Gatsby and Moulin Rouge.

It’s a marquee project for both the Australian filmmaker and Netflix. They just need to hurry up and make the show now.

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