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Strictly Ballroom Essay

1585 words - 7 pages

The glamorous dance floor, the glorious attire, the elegant music and the precise body manoeuvres are just some of the factors which inspired Australian director, Baz Luhrmann to create an absolute flamboyant masterpiece of his own, Strictly Ballroom (1992). The strength to fight for what one believes in becomes evident throughout this film and therefore the heart of the production lives by the line “A life lived in fear is a life half lived”. Strictly Ballroom is an ebulliently comic celebration of dance which invites its audience to take up particular positions and react in a prescribed manner as determined by Luhrmann, who incorporated meaningful film techniques which highlighted the ...view middle of the document...

Scott and Fran dance to the music of Love is in the Air and are joined on the ballroom floor by the whole crowd.

A meaningful non-verbal signifier used to position the audience in this production is the camera techniques. This is particularly evident in the dance sequences because the dynamic camera movement enriches and highlights the dance routines of the main characters. The first dance sequence shows the camera tracking and panning which emphasises the flawless and elegant flow of the waltz being performed. After the waltz, as the music beat increases, so does the camera as it is seen to pan much more rapidly and quickly cut to several different angles. This technique enhances the steps and makes the scene as lively as possible for the viewer. Scott’s new choreography style is similar to freestyle, where his heart just moves him to the beat. The camera also “dances” with him, in a freestyle manner, capturing long continuous shots of Scott spinning and it almost looks as if he will hit the camera. It moves around the room freely and spontaneously, which reinforces the sense that neither Scott nor the camera is following any specific ballroom routine.

Camera techniques are also used to represent the authority level of the characters. Being chairman of the Australian Dancing Federation, Barry Fife is seen to be a man who thrives on power. The camera angles mirrors this representation by shooting him with a low angle shot when first introduced. Another example was backstage at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix, where Shirley is lecturing Fran about Scott and how he isn’t meant to end up with her because, after all, she is just a janitor. The camera shoots Shirley at a low angle, showing she is important and mighty, whereas Fran is shot at a high camera angle. This signifies Shirley talking down at Fran who was losing confidence due to the scenario she was in.

Lastly, a very creative camera technique is used after Barry tells Scott the fabricated story about his father. Scott studies the photos of his dad from when he used to dance, and afterwards the camera went into a spinning shot; spinning around Scott’s head, signifying emotion such as confusion. The spinning shot then fades into the dance floor, so it is also a good trick as if Scott is “spinning though time”, similar to travelling in a time machine. Through the ingenious usage of camera techniques, the viewer is given a heightened awareness of motion, emotion and action in the dancing scenes, as well as the characters’ levels of authority.

Lighting is another non-verbal signifier which Luhrmann uses in order to get the audience to take up particular positions. Lighting is one of the most important tools a director can use to transform the implications of a scene. An important scene is the one in which Scott and Fran are dancing backstage. The background is a pink lit curtain. The music playing is Doris Day's “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” and the lyrics discuss how a lover is not...

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