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Strictly Ballroom Essay Film Techniques

Cinematic Techniques In Strictly Ballroom Essay

Extended Film Response

How the film techniques used by Baz Luhrman to influence the portrayal and development of characters in the film Strictly Ballroom?

In the film Strictly Ballroom, the director Baz Luhrman uses many different film techniques to influence the portrayal and development of characters. Costume and makeup is used as a vital technique to show the audience the characters’ personalities and also the development of some characters. Camera angles and lighting is another technique that is used to exaggerate the characters’ personalities and the scenes they are in. Luhrman also uses character behaviors as an effective technique in portraying each characters’ personality.

In the film Luhrman uses costume and makeup to portray characters’ personalities. Such as Shirley Hastings. Shirley’s costume and makeup shows the audience a great deal about her personality. Shirley always wears pink, puts ‘over the top’ makeup on and wears a lot of jewellery. This tells the audience that she is ‘over the top’ and maybe insecure about herself or her past. Liz Holt is another character whose personality could not have been portrayed if it wasn’t for the costume and makeup used. Liz is a drama queen and exaggerates everything including her costume and makeup. She nearly always wears yellow and also exaggerates her makeup with bright colours even when she’s not dancing. Luhrman also used costume and makeup to show the development of one of the main characters, Fran. At the start of the film, Fran is introduced with acne, glasses and baggy clothes, which shows the audience that she is not comfortable with herself and not confident. But when Fran starts dancing she slowly becomes more confident and her costume and makeup changes. Fran’s acne clears up, she starts wearing nice fitting clothes, she takes her glasses off and she starts wearing her hair in different styles. Even though Fran became more confident, her costume and makeup still suited her personality. For example at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix, all of the other female dancers wore bright coloured, revealing outfits, Fran wore a traditional red Spanish dress. At the end of the film Fran’s physical appearance changed dramatically and so did her confidence. These characters are good examples of how Luhrman uses costume and makeup to effectively influence the portrayal and development of characters in the film.

In Strictly Ballroom, Luhrman uses many different camera angles and lighting techniques to exaggerate scenes, settings and even characters’ personalities. An example of this is at the start of the film, when Scott Hastings is dancing by himself in a room, there is a bright, white spotlight on him as he dances, drawing the audience to watch him. This happens whenever Scott dances and it shows the audience that Scott has a sense of purity and that he is the protagonist of the film. Luhrman uses low angle shots when Scott and Fran are dancing at the end of the film, this is a good...

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Strictly Ballroom is about Scott Hastings desire to break free of ballroom style dance rules and perform his own freestyle dance steps. This creates a strong ambition in Scott, putting himself above others and sometimes being nasty to Fran with the vision to get what he wants. Scott's ambition drives his behavior and event outcomes within the film/text, but unlike other ambitious characters his ambition is not about power and ruling others, but about teaching people to be promote self-expression, individuality, freedom and above all go against conformity and authority.  

The following short clip from the film highlights the major theme, with Scott Hastings breaking free of the rules and dancing his own way.  This scene shows the audience just how much Scott's support group and authorities disapprove of his ambitions of self-expression, individuality and freedom whilst breaking away from conformity and institutional control.

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