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Strictly Ballroom Essay

Belonging is a complex experience that explores relationship, place and identity. Belonging is clearly shown, in each of the above mentioned themes, in the film “Strictly Ballroom” by Baz Lurhman and the non-fiction extract “Home: The Heart Of The Matter” by Peter Read. Belonging is demonstrated through various techniques, which shows various perceptions of belonging depending on context, which are seen in both the film and the non-fiction extract. Relationships can be identified through the power and comfort of belonging as this can be seen in the film “Strictly Ballroom. In the case of Scott and Fran, a middle shot is taken of the two in the last scene – the pair is dancing at the Pan Pacific’s. A connection is made known by the intimate way in, which you see them dance closely with each other. To further highlight this bond, the fierce use of eye contact and the deliberate closeness of the scene specifically portray the couple’s strong connection, and their sudden realisation and perception of belonging. Unlike Scott and Fran’s intimate relationship in “Strictly Ballroom”, Doug and Shirley Hastings barely share a connection.

The most primary example of this is during the kitchen scene where Shirley is portrayed to be the most dominant person in their relationship. This is made clear by the way in which she holds her body and her tone of voice. Also, through the technique of lighting when Shirley stands in the light while Doug is sitting down in the darkness as it is of perception and awareness that Doug does not belong. The long shot in this scene establishes the power dynamic of Shirley standing and Doug sitting. This further highlights the dominant role in which Shirley plays.

Furthermore, the negative connotations through the technique of dialogue, such as “Bored”, emphasizes her leading role and the power imbalance between the married couple, clearly showing that they do not share a sense of belonging. Baz Lurhman tied up the dramatic comparison with belonging functions between Scott and Fran to Shirley and Doug and how once you become aware of the situation depending on the circumstances, the responder can manage how to belong and can support or undermine belonging as perception of belonging depend on context. Belonging is also demonstrated positively in the non-fiction extract “Home: the heart of the matter. This is seen in the last paragraph. “It kept the family in contact throughout the day. ”

This gives the family a sense of always knowing where to find someone, knowing that someone is always there for you. There is a sense of belonging occurring during the extract. The use of colloquial language demonstrates a connection of family and coupling. The examples of colloquial language are: “mum and dad”, “Helen and I”, “family” and “Dad”. Perceptions in the non-fiction extract are primarily expressed through family, an example being “mum and dad”.

This however is not a central concern. The connection isn’t focused on the situation or context but more on the home and the place where you feel the sense of belonging. The belonging of or to a place can be discovered in Strictly Ballroom when Scott is at the Toledo Bar mirroring Ricco (Fran’s father). The natural lighting allows reality, truth and authenticity to be revealed. The long shot taken of Scott and Ricco mirroring one another allows Scott to learn the traditional Paso Doable rather than the ballroom version which it took Scott out of his comfort zone.

A close up shot on Scott’s feet is used to gain the audience’s attention and to view Scott discovering his new rhythm as the perceptions of belonging depend on the context. A completely opposite example of the music and authenticity of the Paso Doable is seen in the ballroom world, where artificial costumes and bright makeup are worn in order to belong as that what the ballroom world rules are, to dress the same and dance the same steps which Scott could not handle.

This shows how artificially fake this world is and how people will live their life around it in order to be a part of it; they also follow the rules and live by the guidelines just to belong to it. These two scenes are completely incomparable to one another. The Toledo Bar shows a positive, realistic aspect to belonging to a place. The ballroom scene shows a negative, artificial view on belonging to the ballroom world. Lurhman is very clever on how he exaggerated the ballroom world through the technique of comparison to the real world.

This gives the audience a very clear perception on both worlds depending on the situation. Through the technique of setting belonging to a place is also seen in the extract Home: the Heart of the matter. A place varies according to each individual. The different voices spoken show their own idea and their awareness of belonging to a different place. The use of the metaphor in the phrase, “Footscray is me” allows the place to define the individual. The high modality metaphor “home is everything,” emphasizes the connection between belonging and place.

In this text the paragraphs start with the large concept of the inner city and then consistently narrow down to smaller locations, to the suburbs, then a house and eventually to a room in a house. This shifting perception of belonging depending on context structure shows how broad place and belonging really is. Finding ones identity can be seen in the film Strictly Ballroom. Scott is a prime example when he discovers he wants to create his own steps. When Scott dances by himself, natural lighting is used and the music is very different to the traditional ballroom music.

Scott decides to dance his own moves in front of the mirror finding his own identity, self-reflection. The mirror is a symbol of the power and masculinity of his dancing, coming out of the fake world and returning to his nature, as in this context/situation, Fran notices that he is different from other dancers and later on becomes aware of how they belong to each other. Scott rejects the idea of winning, in doing so Scott is being true to himself and doing as his pleases as this is shown through the technique of dialogue, “I don’t care about winning I just want to dance our steps. Scott does not belong to the ballroom world and by not belonging he finds his own identity in doing so. Another example is captured in the opening scene in the studio where Doug is isolated and has a marginalized focus, background this is known as a mise en scene. This placement of Doug in the background shows exactly how Doug’s character is and in this case his identity is lost. Identity is also discovered in the text Home: the Heart of the matter where the identity of different voices is spoken. This shows how they all individually define their thoughts on belonging.

The repetition and use of singular pronouns are used to help understand and define him/her identity. An example of this is the use of the words “me”, “I’m” and “I”. Also the metaphor “Centre of gravity is the inner city. ” This is where the individual belongs and this has helped them understand their identity and become more aware of the situation. By living here this has helped the individual to learn how to be still and accept changes. This extract is all about the discovering of one’s identity. The extract is a sense of belonging and finding yourself.

All of the views from the different individuals are all positive. The extract Home: The Heart of The Matter by Peter Read and the film Strictly Ballroom by Baz Lurhman. Belonging can clearly be seen to be reliant on the theme of perception and becoming aware of belonging depending on the situation. In the two texts both positive and negative aspects of belonging have been demonstrated through the use of various techniques and examples. Belonging is a central part of life, as one need to fulfil the experience of perception as perceptions of belonging depend on context.


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