Critical Essay: Strictly Ballroom
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Baron Acton (1834 – 1902). Baz Luhrmann’s bizarre romantic comedy, “Strictly Ballroom”, is based on the idea suggested above, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Barry Fife, played by Bill Hunter, could be seen and described as a dictator who rules the world, the world of ballroom dancing. He is the villain in the plot, the main antagonist. Baz Luhrmann conveys this idea of absolute corruption through images and camera techniques, such as low angled and close up shots. Baz Luhrmann also portrays the idea of power being a dangerous possession through Scott Hastings, played by Paul Mercurio as the main protagonist, or, the hero. Scott is portrayed as a hero also through images and actions in the ballroom, such as his rebellious steps in the ballroom.
Barry Fife is the Federation president, the head judge, the dominant figure. His power and dominance of the ballroom is highlighted through extremely close-up and low angled camera shots. Extreme close up shots to his mouth also suggests his influence in the world of ballroom dancing. At one scene, Barry Fife denies the idea of new steps with an absolute statement, “There are no new steps”. The camera zooms into his mouth and a newspaper spins out of it. This imagery suggests that Barry Fife is so influential that his words were immediately published into the media as soon as they were said. Influence is also portrayed by his product, his video, titled “Dance to Win”. The title of this video implies that the only way to win is to dance as Barry Fife says. His influence and control is also portrayed in the surroundings of his office in the beginning of the film, where he states, “Well of course, you can dance any steps you like! But that doesn’t mean you’ll... ...win.” This statement shows Barry Fife’s influence over the world of ballroom dancing, showing that he has the power to...
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