The concept of belonging and acceptance is a major part of our modern society. Most stories and films represent belonging or alienation in one way or another. Strictly Ballroom, directed by Baz Luhrmann and the ‘Ugly Duckling’, a short story by Hans Christian Anderson, both represent the concept of acceptance and rejection through the use of many film and language techniques.
Strictly Ballroom represents belonging using a variety of techniques to distinguish between the world of artifice and the more realistic world. The image of the artificial world, shown as the ballroom world, is glitzy and colourful. Luhrmann has presented this world as having power, whereas the character of Fran, shown in plain clothes and reading glasses, is initially shown as powerless, because she does not belong to the ballroom world. When central characters Scott and Liz run into Fran, barely acknowledging her existence, the audience can understand how insignificant she is in their world.
Fran and her family are Spanish immigrants, and Luhrmann portrays them as coming from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, literally by showing a train pass by their house. They are initially seen in darkness and the stark contrast from the glitz and glow of the ballroom world creates an image of the family as being rough and unrefined. However, as Scott spends time with them, they are revealed to be passionate dancers, and after spending mere hours with the family, Scott is accepted into their world, whereas Fran is yet to be accepted into the ballroom world after 2 years of dancing in beginners.
Luhrmann’s use of juxtaposition emphasises that Fran doesn’t belong. A close-up image of Liz’s face, her bright, over-the-top makeup and styled hair, is followed immediately with an identical close-up of Fran’s simple, plain face. This shows the obvious dissimilarity between the two characters, and emphasises Fran’s alienation from the ballroom world. Juxtaposition is again used during the...