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The Scene caught up with Baz Luhrmann in Sydney to talk sun, sea and his latest movie, "Australia"...
The Scene: How would you describe the essence of Sydney?
Baz Luhrmann: Sydney in general is eclectic. You can be on that brilliant blue ocean walk in the morning and then within 20 minutes you can be in a completely vast suburban sprawl or an Italian or Asian suburb, and it's that mix of people, it's that melting pot of people that give it its vital personality.
TS: Tell us about your relationship with Sydney.
BL: Like any relationship that is worth it, you have to work at it, and my relationship with Sydney has gone through many different phases. It's something that recently I've decided to work at, in the sense that I wanted to rediscover that this is my home and what that means to me now that I have a family.
TS: Can you tell us what you're working on at the moment?
BL: Right now I'm working on a new film called "Australia." It's a sweeping romantic epic, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, that uses the landscape of Australia to express the emotions of the character. It will reinvestigate the idea of the mythical Australia; of the metaphor of Australia to the rest of the world. I'm embarking on this huge Australian piece because it puts me back in the land which is my birth land and my home. I've traveled around the world to so many cities and fallen in love with all kinds of places but it's great to reconnect with your own heart.
TS: What is the relationship between Australians and their environment?
BL: You need to understand that it's bigger than you, it'll always be bigger than you and you should never try and subjugate it. You have to learn to live with it. Part of that is the danger of it. No matter what your point of view is you have to accept it and become part of it. And I think that that's one of the bigger themes of "Australia."
Children at school wear caps with little curtains at the back to protect the backs of their necks and their ears. That give you an idea of how seriously they take the sun out here in this glorious country. And as for the sea, Australia is a totally coastal life. It's a world by the ocean and the largest part of the population live by the sea. The water is strong, the water has enormous emotion and personality and like a character it can turn on you when you least expect it. Like everything in this country, particularly on the beaches of Sydney, you have to respect it. It's not something that you can take for granted.
TS: What's your favorite part of your work?
BL: I've come to realize that the part I love most is working with people. It's a circus life. I will, after making something for years, have a period when I'm completely on my own and that's my own anonymous time, but outside of that most of my creative life in Sydney is spent working with creative people, all kinds of people. Life is never really me walking along on my own contemplating creative things on the beach. It's always with someone.
TS: What are the best and worst things about Sydney?
BL: When I return from other places around the world, the thing that I'm always reminded about Sydney is that it's such an easy place to live. I guess that's also a negative too, 'cause it can probably be sometimes a little bit too easy to live in the city. Some would say it's glamorous and seductive -- shamefully, shamefully seductive.
TS: How do daytime and night time Sydney differ?
BL: In the daytime, Sydney's lively and fun and brash and colorful. Then at night you start to learn there's another side to it. That's the deeper Sydney -- a little bit more mysterious, a bit more surprising, and a little bit more exotic, actually.
Sydney at night has an entirely different tone. It's surely the great party town. The party is a true art form in Sydney and people practise it a great deal. You can really get quite lost in it. If Paris is a city of lights, Sydney is the city of fireworks.
TS: If Sydney were a person, what would it be like?
BL: Sydney is rather like an arrogant lover. When it rains it can deny you its love and you can find it hard to relate to. It's not a place that's built to be rainy or cold. But when the sun comes out, it bats its eyelids, it's glamorous, beautiful, attractive, smart, and it's very hard to get away from its magnetic pull. And like a fascinating creature, it also has this underbelly, which you find the more time you spend with it.