One flew over the cuckoos nest

Topics: Baz Luhrmann, Nutrition, New World Pages: 7 (1769 words) Published: February 8, 2014
70

Cambridge Checkpoints HSC Advanced English

Sample response: Film
Prescribed text: Strictly Ballroom, Baz Luhrmann, 1997
Related text: A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, 1947 (drama) Introduction names
the texts and links
them directly to the
question
Develops a thesis
which applies to both
texts

The topic sentence
on not belonging
connects the next
two paragraphs
which are about the
same idea but discuss
the different texts
separately

Using supporting
evidence

Closing sentence that
sums up the ideas in
both texts and links
these directly with
the words in the
question

Topic: settings and
belonging in both
texts

Strictly Ballroom, directed by Baz Luhrmann in 1997, and A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947, explore the concept of belonging in very different ways and arrive at different conclusions about the statement, “Understanding nourishes belonging … a lack of understanding prevents it”. The film shows that understanding and acceptance can lead to a stronger sense of inclusion for those who are outsiders and that everyone benefits and grows from understanding others. In the play, however, understanding and acceptance are actively discouraged and prevented by those who favour self-interest over connection and inclusion. Williams shows us that some people fear belonging because it undermines their individuality and dominance. They therefore do all they can to prevent their power being diminished by the group.

At the outset, the two texts establish a sense of not belonging. In the film, we see a group of people who are all alike in appearance and behaviour, but they do not connect with each other emotionally. There are raised voices, disagreements and physical anger. There is great unhappiness within the Hastings family over Scott’s attempts to assert his individuality by dancing non-regulation steps. We know immediately that Fran is an outsider because of her plain, unadorned appearance and the indifference shown to her by the other dancers. She will not be readily welcomed into the inner sanctum of the Hastings family or the dancing federation elite. This is also a world to which the viewer does not want to belong. The garish costumes and make-up, the obsession about competition and winning and the absolute control wielded by the officials, especially Barry Fife, are repellent, rather than attractive.

In the opening scene of A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche is alarmed and then confused when she realises she has found where Stella lives. It is obvious even at this early stage that Blanche does not belong emotionally or temperamentally in her sister’s new life. The vitality, vigour and colour of the street life contrast with Blanche’s pale fragility of appearance and demeanour. We learn early in the play that she is quite alone now both parents have died. She says to Stella: “You’re all I’ve got in the world and you’re not glad to see me!”, establishing her outsider status at the start. Sadly, she is never really invited by Stella to connect, nor could she, given that she is so different from Stanley. Both texts therefore set up a situation where some individuals are displaced. The texts treat displacement very differently, however, and arrive at very different conclusions about the effects on belonging of understanding and nourishment.

Both texts convey narrow, confined, constricting worlds through the use of crowded interior scenes. In Strictly Ballroom, most of the action occurs inside the competition hall or the practice rooms. These are artificially lit and bounded by walls that keep out the real, exterior, everyday world. There is a strict uniform in this dancing world and a narrowly prescribed set of movements that dancers are strictly forbidden to go beyond. Dancers’ ambitions are also narrowly defined for them – they are expected

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