At the Waratah Championships ballroom dancer Scott Hastings goes against Federation rules and impulsively dances his own steps, causing partner Liz Holt to dump him. Then Fran, ugly duckling of the beginners’ class, offers to be Scott’s new partner. Initially sceptical, he is persuaded by her ideas, and together they plan to dance their own steps at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Championships.
But Scott’s rebelliousness does not go unchallenged. His mother Shirley and coach Les Kendall try various ways to prevent Scott from dancing with Fran, while corrupt President Barry Fife plots Scott’s downfall by concocting a story about his parents’ dancing career that will convince him to compete at the Pan-Pacifics without Fran. All seems lost until Scott’s father Doug reveals the truth. With Barry Fife’s desperate attempts at sabotage having little effect, Scott and Fran complete their spectacular dance to rapturous applause from the crowd. Everyone takes to the dance floor in celebration.
Baz Luhrmann and
Images of Australia
Baz Luhrmann’s Vision
The World of the Film
Hero, Heroine, Villain
A – Baz Luhrmann interview
B – Tristram Miall interview
C – Sequences for study
D – Key moments
E – Film language
F – Filmography
Australian director Baz Luhrmann's flamboyant and colourful debut feature Strictly Ballroom (1992) opens with a theatrical swish of red velvet curtains and leads us into the larger-thanlife world of competitive ballroom dancing. It tells the story of Scott and Fran, who rebel against Dance Federation rules in order to dance their own steps. The film is the first in Baz Luhrmann's 'red curtain' film trilogy, and can also be described as a combination of the following: a fairy tale, a romantic comedy, a dance musical, even a satire. This study guide is aimed at teachers who are teaching the film as a comparative text in the Leaving Certificate English syllabus. As well as sections relevant to modes of comparison such as The World of the Film, (for Cultural Context/Social Setting) and Hero, Heroine, Villain, a central feature of the study guide is our exclusive interview with director Baz Luhrmann. He discusses his artistic vision and defines red curtain cinema, the concept central to his trilogy of films Strictly Ballroom (1992), Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge (2001).
We are also very pleased to include an interview with Strictly Ballroom producer Tristram Miall in which he discusses his involvement in the making of Strictly Ballroom, and also provides insights into his role as a film producer in the Australian film industry. Both interviews will provide invaluable background material for both teachers and students. Strictly Ballroom is an excellent choice for comparative study as it is accessible, fun and fast-paced, but it also has serious themes and ultimately celebrates Australia's multicultural society, a view that has strong resonance for contemporary Ireland. I hope you will find this guide an interesting, useful and enjoyable resource in your teaching of Strictly Ballroom.
Grateful thanks to my colleagues Alicia McGivern, Gráinne Humphreys and Liz Fehilly for their valuable suggestions and editorial contributions.
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